iPhone 2.1 Update Released

Apple rolled out version 2.1 of its iPhone software last Friday, and widespread reports suggest that it successfully fixes numerous problems, including 3G data reception.

Here's is the lowdown on the iPhone 2.1's enhancements.

Fewer dropped calls. In a survey conducted by Wired.com, 40 percent of readers report that they're getting fewer dropped calls than they did before the update. Another 43 percent currently state that the update has made no change one way or the other, while 15 percent state that they're getting more dropped calls than ever. Upshot: The new software probably won't hurt your calls, and might lead to fewer dropped ones.

Increased 3G download speeds. "We're seeing an overall more consistent kbps score and the number of 3G tests where the user scored a real low 100kbps -- 300kbps is down," said Donovan Lewis, the administrator of Test My iPhone, in an article on Cult of Mac. In other words: Fewer people are seeing very slow 3G speeds, and (presumably) more people are seeing faster speeds.

Faster application installation. Ars Technica reports that applications are quicker to install under iPhone 2.1. Also, they report that there's less lag when opening, browsing and searching an address book of about 600 contacts. (On my own iPhone, with nearly 2,000 contacts, the contacts lag is only slightly minimized.)

Better song info and recommendations. As Gadget Lab reported last week, the iPhone's list of songs now displays an extra line of information about each track. There's also the much-vaunted "Genius" recommendation feature, which suggests additional songs you might want to buy based on what you're listening to now.

More bars. Many reviewers are reporting that phone reception in general is better. In many cases reviewers say that the signal-strength indicator in the corner immediately added bars after the update finished installing. Just a trick? Probably not, since most reports agree that reception is indeed better.

Reduced backup time. One complaint about previous versions was that the "backup" phase of iPhone syncing took way too long -- 20 minutes or more. That problem appears to be fixed now, according to Gizmodo.

Bottom line? Get it now -- this is a must-have upgrade and it delivers on most, if not all, of its promises.

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