Apple iOS 7.1 thoughts and tips

iOS 7.1

Apple released iOS 7.1 this week (3/10/2014) for the iPhone 4 or later, iPad 2 or later, iPad mini or later and iPod touch (5th generation). This free update can be downloaded by going to Settings –> General –> Software Update. This is a big update which required 1.9GB of free space on my iPhone and iPad before it would download and install.

Here are the major changes:

CarPlay
-iOS experience designed for the car
-Simply connect your iPhone to a CarPlay enabled vehicle
-Supports Phone, Music, Maps, Messages, and 3rd-party audio apps
-Control with Siri and the car’s touchscreen, knobs, and buttons
Siri
-Manually control when Siri listens by holding down the home button while you speak and releasing it when you’re done as an alternative to letting Siri automatically notice when you stop talking
-New, more natural sounding male and female voices for Mandarin Chinese, UK English, Australian English, and Japanese
iTunes Radio
-Search field above Featured Stations to easily create stations based on your favorite artist or song
-Buy albums with the tap of a button from Now Playing
-Subscribe to iTunes Match on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to enjoy iTunes Radio ad-free
Calendar
-Option to display events in month view
-Country specific holidays automatically added for many countries
Accessibility
-Bold font option now includes the keyboard, calculator, and many icon glyphs
-Reduce Motion option now includes Weather, Messages, and multitasking UI animations
-New options to display button shapes, darken app colors, and reduce white point
-New Camera setting to automatically enable HDR for iPhone 5s
-iCloud Keychain support in additional countries
-FaceTime call notifications are automatically cleared when you answer a call on another device
-Fixes a bug that could occasionally cause a home screen crash
-Improves Touch ID fingerprint recognition
-Improved performance for iPhone 4
-Fixes display of Mail unread badge for numbers greater than 10,000
-Continued user interface refinements

Thoughts:
-When you have the messages app open and get a text, it gives you a quick buzz to let you know you have a new message.
-The wallpaper dims slightly to make the apps and text on the home screen easier to read.
-If you have images stored for your contacts, they no longer appear full screen when someone calls you. They are now located in a small circle at the top of the screen.
-Speaking of small circles… The Call, Accept and Decline rectangular phone buttons have turned into circles.
-For those who share their phone with little ones, there is a new warning screen when buying in-app purchases that lets you know that you have 15 minutes where you won’t need to enter a password to buy an in-app item.
-The keyboard displays in all caps whether or not you have the shift key enable.

Tips
-I am not a big fan of the animations on iOS 7 / 7.1 as I prefer things to be faster. Luckily there is an option to reduce some of these annoyances. (Settings –> General –> Accessibility –> Reduce Motion)
-There is an option to bold the text in various screens which I find makes a big difference. (Settings –> General –> Accessibility –> Bold Text) Note: This will automatically reboot your phone to make the changes.

Have you downloaded iOS 7.1 on your devices? If so, what do you like or dislike about the update? Post your responses in the comment section below.

Windows XP support ending April 8, 2014

windowsxpWindows XP originally came out in 2001 and it has been one of my favorite operating systems. While there have been newer versions of Windows since then (Vista, 7 and 8), many folks have been content to stick with XP. The time has come though to let XP go and move on to a newer operating system. After April 8, 2014, Microsoft will no longer be offering security updates or support for Windows XP. This means if any vulnerabilities are found after that time, they will not be fixed and your system will be at risk.

So what should you do? Continue running XP and see what happens? That’s probably not a good idea. First, you need to determine if your system is capable of running one of the newer operating systems. The minimum requirements for Windows 7 and 8 are about the same: 1ghz processor, 1gb RAM and 16GB free hard drive space. Ideally you will want a little more than those basic specs if you want things to run smoothly. Microsoft has free utilities you can run to see if your system is ready for a newer operating system.

Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor
Windows 8 Upgrade Advisor

If you do want to upgrade, I would recommend going with Windows 7 rather than Windows 8. The user interface for Windows 8 is drastically different than previous versions of Windows including Windows XP. Windows 7 is almost impossible to find in stores so you’ll have to order it online. Here are some links to order if you are interested.

Windows 7 Home Premium
Windows 7 Professional

Please note that you will need to backup your data before you upgrade as it will wipe your hard drive when installing Windows 7. This is my preferred method as you get to start fresh and choose the programs you want to put back on there. Microsoft recommends using the Windows Easy Transfer to copy your various files and settings to an external drive. You can download it for free from Microsoft.

Windows Easy Transfer

If your system isn’t capable of supporting a newer version of Windows or you just don’t want to spend the money, there are other alternatives. You’d probably be fairly safe unplugging the computer from the internet and just using it as a word processor or light gaming computer for the kids.

You could also explore non-Windows operating systems like Linux. There are numerous Linux flavors out there, but the most popular one seems to be Ubuntu. I actually prefer one of its sibling called Lubuntu which works better/faster on older hardware. You can burn that to a CD or USB flash drive and try it out before you install it to the hard drive.

Do you have a computer running Windows XP? What are your plans for it? Post your answers in the comment section below.