Overview: iPhone - Firmware Update 2.1

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iTunes wasn't the only dramatic change recently as the iPhone also got a nice, shiny update with 2.1. Aside from a portable version of Genius, discussed in my last column, the improvements are incremental, but important.

First, there are fewer dropped calls, as well as, according to Apple, fewer crashes from application overload. 2.0, which was released in July, brought the amazing App Store. It also brought to life lots of frozen iPhones due to faulty apps (mine included). 2.1 promises to reduce this problem, presumably from the back end since Apple, as far as we know, hasn't changed its application process for actual app creation.

SMS/text now can give additional text alerts - when the little bubbles appear with the message - and the keyboard is slightly more accurate.

The whole iPhone backup experience has been streamlined. The proof is pretty fast: After downloading the 231 MB 2.1 upgrade, getting the new software takes about fifteen minutes - and that's assuming you back up your iPhone beforehand. Compare this to the eons it took to do previous iPhone upgrades, or even to get iTunes 8 going, as we discussed in the most recent column.

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And you don't have to approve anything - just walk away for a few minutes and let it download to the iPhone. It will prep it for upgrade, download the firmware and reset it.

Finally, the iPhone 2.1 software extends the battery life of both models. Probably by using more efficient software, 2.1 decreases the amount of juice spent while idle, talking, or using multimedia or third-party apps.

In the next column we'll look at the Genius on the go and other music functions.

About the Author
A regular writer for Playboy and New York Post, Damon Brown wrote the "Pocket Idiot's Guide to the iPhone" (Alpha/Penguin Books), the first book on the iPhone. His next book, "Porn & Pong: How Grand Theft Auto, Tomb Raider and Other Sexy Games Changed Modern Pop Culture," is out now.

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