Today, Apple released the 'major' firmware update for the iPhone Steve Jobs announced earlier this week and which had already been available for the iPod touch since Tuesday. According to Apple, this update will fix the connectivity and battery life issues a lot of users had with their phones. Apple also released a fix for iTunes 8 after users reported repeated system crashes on their Windows machines after upgrading to the latest version.

iPhone 2.1

For us, the install for the new firmware went very smooth and was actually completed a bit faster than our previous updates. The update weighs in at about 250 MB.

Here are some of our first impressions (we have not been able to test Apple's claims about better battery life yet, but we will update this post once we have some more information):

  • application updates are now a lot faster
  • backups to iTunes are now completed within a minute
  • contact information now appears almost instantaneously
  • the keyboard is noticeably more responsive (in the SMS application and elsewhere)
  • checking for mail still takes a long time
  • Genius playlists did not appear functional at first - we had sync the phone without interruption before they were finally working
  • 3G reception is improved - at our desk, we now get three or four bars where before, we would at best get one

Overall, we feel this is a very good update that takes care of a large number of annoyances with the original 2.0 firmware.

Some of the updates to the iPod application are also nice, including the new status indication for podcasts, display of album and artist in the 'songs' view, and the addition of the 'Genius' feature to the iPhone.

Notification Server Still Missing

Still missing from this update is the long awaited push notification system that Apple promised during iPhone 3G launch. Given how many users had problems with their battery life when using push email, it makes sense for Apple to try to fix the battery life issues first, though.

Also still missing is copy-and-paste. Hopefully, now that Apple has fixed the major problems in the original 2.0 release, one of the next updates will also add this feature.

iTunes 8 BSOD Fix

Reviews of iTunes 8 and the 'Genius' feature have been mixed (our review was relatively positive). However, the major problem plaguing iTunes 8 has been a steady stream of Vista blue-screens for a large group of users. Apple has acknowledged and fixed this problem.

However, if your system had these issues, you will not see an automatic update in iTunes - instead, you have to either re-download and install the application, or uninstall the faulty driver by hand. The instructions for doing this can be found in Apple's knowledge-base.