A first look at the iOS 4.1 Gold Master edition

At Apple’s keynote yesterday, they announced they would be shipping the final build of iOS 4.1 to customers next week. The Gold Master, which is the final build for developers to test their applications, was released yesterday and we were able to install it on an iPod touch 2nd generation.

One major complaint from iPhone 3G/iPod touch 2nd generation users was performance and battery life on iOS 4.0. From our first look at iOS 4.1, performance is significantly improved. There is no more crashing in the web browser, and things are just as speedy (if not faster), than iOS 3 was. As far as battery life goes, push notifications was a major drainer while the device was in standby mode in iOS 4.0. In iOS 4.1, push notifications still did drain a significant amount of battery life compared to having them turned off, but it isб═significantlyб═less than the previous iOSб═version.

Game Center, Apple’s attempt at an Xbox LIVE alternative on iOS devices, is also being released after months of extensive testing in iOS 4.1. An interesting note with Game Center is that it IS included in the iOS 4.1 Gold Master edition on the iPod touch 2nd generation, despite Apple dropping support for it on this device in beta 3 of iOS 4.1. We’re trying to figure out what’s up with that and once we know, we’ll be sure to let you know.

It’s clear that Game Center is still not exactly ready for release next week, as something are completely broken, are still in “SANDBOX” mode (developer testing mode), or still feature the old design of Game Center that was found in iOS 4.0 beta’s.

The ability to use iTunes Ping is indeed included in iOS 4.1′s iTunes Store, except some of the images still appear to be broken for some of the people you follow. The interface of Ping on the iTunes Store in iOS 4.1 is, to put it simply, awesome! The interface is simple and clean, yet looks really nice. Ping itself is still a bit slow performance wise, but that’s probably because Apple hasn’t enabled all of its servers devoted for Ping on iOS 4.1 yet (since the official release is next week). You have all the functionalities of Ping on your iOS device that you would have if you use it in iTunes on your computer.

Some small notes about iOS 4.1:

  • The ability to enable Caps Lock on the keyboard is now enabled by default in the Settings app
  • We can’t test the iPhone 4 proximity sensor issue (which has been claimed to be fixed in iOS 4.1), but several users are reporting it is indeed fixed
  • We also cannot test the Bluetooth issues that have reportedly been fixed in iOS 4.1 as well
  • The “iPod” / “Music” application loads up much quicker than it did in iOS 4.0, a major complaint from iOS 4.0 users
  • Spotlight search on iOS 4.1 still seems a bit slow performance wise when it is first populating the results, but after that, it’s very speedy.

iOS 4.1 will be released to the general public sometime next week as a free update for all iPhone and iPod touch users via iTunes.

Game Center is still in sandbox mode at some areas