Major iPhone Update iOS 4.1 Brings New Features

Apple released the first major update to its iOS 4 operating system today. The iOS 4.1 firmware is available free using iTunes and features several highly anticipated additions to the iPhone and iPod touch. Several important bug fixes are also included in the release (build 8B117).

apple iphone ios 4.1 firmware install

iPhone 4 owners will be happy that proximity sensor issues experienced under iOS 4 should be improved. Speed and performance issues should also see improvement for those with older iPhone 3G hardware. Bluetooth connectivity problems have also been addressed by iOS 4.1.

One of the most touted features of iOS 4.1 is Apple's Game Center, which adds social networking capabilities to gaming on the iPhone. Game Center capable games have already started to show up in the App Store. These products allow users to communicate, play multiplayer games, share score leaderboards, and perform other various gaming-related activities online with their mobile iOS device. Unfortunately, Apple has left out iPhone 3G owners from Game Center as the hardware is an older generation.

Apple is happy to offer iTunes commercial free television rentals via iOS 4.1. These can be watched anywhere on your iPhone for $0.99 a pop. The company is still negotiating with studios to bring more shows to the platform.

iPhones running iOS 4.1 will also support Ping, Apple's new social networking feature focused on music and entertainment. iTunes users can sign up with iTunes 10 and connect with like minded music fans using the network. One million users signed up in the first two days after Ping was released, even though Facebook and Apple had a spat. The two companies are working things out now.

One great feature that wasn't mentioned by anyone until last week's Apple media event in San Francisco is HDR photography. High Dynamic Range photos automatically take three pictures and combine bright, mid-range and dark exposure levels into one photo. No more white sky or dark skylines! The feature can be switched on or off and iPhone photographers can tell iOS 4.1 whether or not to save the original version of the photo with an HDR version.

Finally, iOS 4.1 allows HD video uploads to YouTube and MobileMe from the iPhone 4. What's the point in recording HD video if you can't share in HD?

iOS 4.1 is available now, with iOS 4.2 coming to iPads in November. For step-by-step instructions on how to update your iPhone see our FAQ.