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Summary:

Chances are the next time you tether your iPhone to your PC or Mac, you’re handset will be hungry for the latest firmware. Version 2.1 became available this morning although it didn’t automatically appear for me when I connected my phone. A quick button click addressed […]

Iphone21firmwareChances are the next time you tether your iPhone to your PC or Mac, you’re handset will be hungry for the latest firmware. Version 2.1 became available this morning although it didn’t automatically appear for me when I connected my phone. A quick button click addressed that issue and the large firmware file was on the way. Some of the higher impact updates include:
  • Decrease in call set-up failures and dropped calls.
  • Significantly better battery life for most users.
  • Dramatically reduced time to backup to iTunes.
  • Improved email reliability, notably fetching email from POP and Exchange accounts.
  • Faster installation of 3rd party apps.
  • Fixed bugs causing hangs and crashes for most users with lots of third party apps.
  • Improved accuracy of the 3G signal strength display.
  • Genius playlist creation.
My iTunes inner Genius is still adding zero value, so I won’t likely see benefit from the last bit. Funny that Apple has no issue recommending purchases with the Genius, but can’t build a playlist for me. All that music purchased from Amazon wouldn’t have anything to do with it, right? ;)
Regardless of your mobile handset of choice, there’s one effort I see from Apple that clearly eclipses most of the market right now: a higher frequency of firmware updates to address issues. You could argue that some of these issues shouldn’t be there to begin with, and I’d agree. However, no platform is perfect and I’d rather see updates every month or two as opposed to updates once every year.
  1. Most phones actually work as phones when they’re released. If they’re going to release a phone with firmware is cruddy as the 3G iPhone’s release firmware, they better get an update out quick.

    I’d wager that the people sitting around with non-working iPhones would take issue with this release being considered quick.

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  2. Because most phone providers don’t have that many bugs to fix!

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  3. Yeah right guys. Other smart phones have no bugs? Sure just keep on telling yourselves that. I’ve owned many and all have had bugs.

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  4. Because most phones sit in testing for a year until the phone carriers tell them which features to remove so they can ship it. By the time they actually ship they’re obsolete and everyone is waiting for the next phone so there’s no gosh darned point to releasing updates for it.

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  5. I can tell you that I’ve seen more software updates on the iPhone than I’ve ever seen on an HTC, HP, and Compaq Windows Mobile device. And, to me, that’s a good thing. All devices are buggy, but at least companies like Apple have the decency to fix it, unlike these other greedy bastards that would rather sell you a new device than even provide a PAID (remember this guys?) update from 2002 to 2003 to 5.0 to 6.0.

    Don’t be so quick to knock Apple when we had it worse with Microsoft devices. Much worse.

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  6. @Robt

    Bugs are one thing. You’re right, nearly all phones have bugs.

    I ever recall a phone being release, aside from the iPhone 3g, that can’t make and receive calls, though. That’s a pretty huge bug for a phone to have.

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  7. Man, talk about typos. I wrote that and I’m having a hard time understanding it.

    Lets try this again:

    @Robt

    You’re right, nearly all phones have bugs.

    Bugs are one thing. I don’t recall a phone being released, aside from the iPhone 3g, that can’t make and receive calls, though. That’s a pretty huge bug for a phone to have.

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  8. It does seem to be all or nothing when looking at the iPhone and HTC phones. The iPhone is laughably buggy. It’s obvious that it was pushed out the door far too early and is in DIRE need of bug fixes NOW. Not next month, next week or tomorrow, NOW. I have no idea what 2.0.1 and 2.0.2 did but it at least gave the impression that Apple was on the ball and 2.1 does seem to have addressed at least the worst of the phone’s problems. At the other end of the spectrum are HTC phones which, these days, are released with relatively few bugs. Windows Mobile is an infinitely more mature system with several times the feature set of the iPhone. But when those few bugs affect something you’d like to do, such as watch video, you can almost count on those bugs NEVER being addressed. You will, most likely, see a single update to the system on an HTC phone and, for the most part, it simply piles more crap on top of what’s already there.

    It would be NICE if there was a happy medium. On one side, an iPhone that was relatively bug free when taken out of the box and received occasional bug fix and feature addition updates. Last time I looked, I still couldn’t copy/paste a URL from the browser to an email. On the other side, it would be equally nice if HTC gave a crap at all about it’s user base and addressed well known bugs sooner than six months from now, if ever. The last time I looked, my old Sprint Touch STILL didn’t play video correctly but it had a whole new set of crap I’d never use loaded on top of the system.

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  9. “Why don’t other phones get upgrades this fast?” — The objective answer is other OS makers have too many variables to consider. Different devices, different carriers, too many directions for a firmware update to go, too many ways for it to go wrong, not to mention the responsibility disputes over who should provide the update: OS maker, hardware maker, or carrier. It’s amazing firmware updates get released at all.

    Apple doesn’t have those problems. They have only two phone models to focus on (and they’re almost the same). They established that they, not the carrier, distribute firmware updates. They even have a bug collection system that enables quicker problem analysis. Right now, they’re focusing their efforts are fixing the bugs in their nascent product, but once their growing pains are over (and we’ll see how much progress the 2.1 firmware represents), they will be able to focus on advancement and expansion.

    Aside from Nokia with their purchase of Symbian, the other guys are in poor position to counter an iPhone that outgrown its baby shoes. Android has potential to unify the market, but it could also wind up getting splintered by carriers and hardware makers. Very interesting times ahead.

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  10. Q. Why don’t other phones get upgrades this fast?

    A. Because the security of a lot of other phones cannot be bypassed as simply as pressing Emergency Call followed by Home twice. For a business phone this is an utter deal-breaker and Apple must fix it, fast.

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