iOS 7 review

The iOS 7.1 update addresses many of our original concerns

iOS 7 review
Look at it. So flat. So different... wait....

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Apple's much-derided Maps haven't been catastrophic for us: all mapping systems have errors, and when it comes to driving directions Maps has performed perfectly well for us.

It's in points of interest that iOS 6 Maps fell down, and it's in points of interest that iOS 7 maps falls down too. The addition of turn-by-turn directions for pedestrians is great, but when those directions are to a business that shut down years ago it defeats the purpose somewhat.

iOS 7 maps

Search remains dumb as rocks too: when we searched for Future Publishing, for example, which is us in England, Maps took us to South Africa.

Get over that, though, and the interface is very nice. There's a new night mode to reduce glare (can we have that for iOS generally, please?), the satellite images have been improved, there's live traffic information in Standard and Hybrid views and the nightmarish 3D modelling errors appear to have been fixed.

iOS 7 review

iOS 7.1 also introduced CarPlay, which enables you to access your iOS maps, music and messages from compatible cars' dashboards.

That's good news if you're buying a new Ferrari or Mercedes, but not so good if you drive an old banger: CarPlay is something you'll only find in brand new vehicles, although some third-party firms are hopeful that they'll bring CarPlay to aftermarket car stereos.

iOS 7 review

CarPlay-compatible cars aren't on sale yet, so we haven't been able to test it to see whether it's as good as Apple promises.

Maps still lacks public transport information - recent acquisitions by Apple suggest it's coming, but not imminently - but as a driving tool it's a perfectly nice app. Is it as good as Google? No, but it's not as bad as it's been painted either.


Good news! Siri has new voices and a new way to listen! Bad news! It's still Siri!

I find Siri endlessly frustrating. When it works, it's fantastic: it tells me how long to cook a leg of lamb for, what time the gig's at, what US cups are in real measurements.

I use it to send texts and to schedule appointments, to schedule alarms and to find music. But it's a huffy beast, and it's as likely to ignore me or to spit out gibberish as it is to understand what I'm asking.

iOS 7

When it's in a good mood the iOS 7 Siri can do more than its predecessor. It can toggle Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, enable Airplane Mode, return calls and post to Facebook.

There's a new way of invoking Siri too: hold the home button to talk and let go when you're finished.

Control Center has rendered some things unnecessary - it's quicker to swipe up and enter Airplane Mode than ask Siri to do it - but we found ourselves using Siri more and more for everyday features such as setting alarms and making notes.

It's worth pointing out that Siri isn't always entirely aware of where s/he is: when we asked when the next Rangers game is, something that in Scotland means Glasgow's Rangers, Siri told us about the Texas Rangers baseball team in America.

The lack of customisable voices for the UK is a shame too. We have some of the world's loveliest and/or most interesting accents, but we're stuck with the bloke from The Weakest Link. A soft Scots burr, Irish lilt or a thick Brummie accent is probably a bit much to expect, but Siri is a little too Daytime Game Show for our taste. At the very least we'd like the UK to get a female voice too.

The iOS 7.1 version sounds better. The male voice no longer makes you think you're a game show contestant, and there's a new female voice too - although sadly not the excellent Fiona that you'll find on OS X. That's one for our iOS 8 wish list.

Battery life and performance

iOS 7.1 feels more sprightly on my iPhone 5 and 4S, iPad mini and Air, but the main difference is that it's much less crashy than before: the Safari crashes and Siri delays we noticed in our original iOS 7.0 review are gone.

As with previous iOSes, all-day battery life is an impossible dream if you actually want to use your device, and for some people iOS 7.1 sucks batteries dry like Dracula in a blood bank.

That one appears to be a bug, which can be skirted by resetting the device. I've found battery life to be identical in iOS 7.1 and iOS 7.0.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now and her next book, about pop music, is out in 2025. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind.