Apple iOS 14.1 Release: Should You Upgrade?

By Gordon Kelly

Apple iOS 14.1 is here and it brings new features and a lot of fixes, following the (surprisingly problematic) iOS 14.0.1 release. Unfortunately, it also reintroduces a familiar flaw. Here’s everything you need to know.

Who Is It For?

Apple iOS 14.1 has been released for every iOS 13-compatible device. That means the iPhone 6S and newer and 7th generation iPod touch. An update notification should arrive automatically but, if not, you can trigger it manually by navigating to Settings > General > Software Update. Beta testers, if you are running iOS 14.2 (see ‘The Road Ahead’ section at the end), you must unenroll your iPhone for iOS 14.1 to show up.

iPad owners, Apple has moved you to iPadOS. This is not an iPadOS-focused guide, but I will touch upon pertinent issues in these guides.

The Deal Breakers

Jailbreakers, stay away. Unc0ver is still stuck on iOS 13.5 at the time of publication and while checkra1n has an iOS 14 jailbreak (not iOS 14.1), which is currently restricted to Apple devices running A9(X) chipsets and older. Perhaps the biggest deal breaker in iOS 14.1, however, is it reintroduces a variant of the bug in iOS 14 where your choice of default mail and browser apps is reset. First spotted on Twitter and confirmed by The Verge, after installing iOS 14.1, whenever your chosen third party email and browser apps update, your selections will be removed and revert to Apple Mail and Safari. There’s no easy fix for this, and Apple will need to issue another iOS update to address it.

Aside from this, some iOS 14.0.1 bugs supposedly fixed in iOS 14.1 are still impacting users, including sending emails from the wrong alias, WiFi performance issues, broken widgets and Apple Music bugs. There are also a higher number of reports than usual about battery drain. It’s important to remember iOS/iPadOS updates cause higher battery consumption for a few days after updating while they reindex the device, but I’ll keep an eye on this.

So What Do You Get?

Apple lists the following iOS 14.1 upgrades and fixes:

    • Adds support for 10-bit HDR video playback and edit in ‌Photos‌ for ‌iPhone‌ 8 and later
    • Addresses an issue where some ‌widgets‌, folders, and icons were showing up in reduced size on the Home Screen
    • Addresses an issue where dragging ‌widgets‌ on the ‌Home Screen‌ could remove apps from folders
    • Fixes an issue where some emails in Mail were sent from an incorrect alias
    • Fixes an issue that could prevent incoming calls from displaying region information
    • Fixes an issue on some devices where selecting zoomed display mode and an alphanumeric passcode could result in the Lock Screen emergency call button overlapping with the text input box
    • Addresses an issue where some users were occasionally unable to download or add songs to their library while viewing an album or playlist
    • Fixes an issue that could prevent zeroes from appearing in Calculator
    • Resolves an issue where streaming video resolution could temporarily be reduced at the start of playback
    • Fixes an issue that prevented setting up a family member’s Apple Watch for some users
    • Resolves an issue where the Apple Watch case material was displayed incorrectly in the Apple Watch app
    • Addresses an issue in the Files app that could cause some MDM-managed cloud service providers to incorrectly display content as unavailable
    • Improves compatibility with Ubiquiti wireless access points

This is a curiously feature-light update for a ‘major point’ release and several of the fixes (as noted above) are not working for everyone. Surprisingly, iOS 14.1 is also not listed on Apple’s official security page so it is unclear whether there are no security patches in the release or the company has been tardy updating the page. I’ll update this article if it appears.

Apple iOS 14.1 Verdict: Stay Away

iOS 14.1 fixes several bugs, but it also (re)introduces a widespread one in resetting users’ third party browser and email default apps. Those sticking to Apple Mail and Safari, may still want to take the plunge but if you already enjoy a largely bug free experience, there’s no real gain in upgrading to iOS 14.1. I will upgrade this guide in a week with my final verdict.

The Road Ahead

Apple iOS 14.2 is currently on its fourth beta and it introduces new emojis, Music Recognition for the Control Center (think: integrated Shazam), a redesigned Now Playing Widget, an upgraded interface for AirPlay (optimized for multiple-device streaming), enhanced Apple Card features and support for HomePod’s upcoming Intercom functionality. That said, unless iOS 14.2 is coming out in the next few weeks, I’d expect iOS 14.1.1 to be fast tracked to fix the third party email and browser problems. Watch this space.

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