Apple iOS 7.1, With CarPlay, Now Available for Download

CarPhone, software that puts an iPhone's controls into select cars' in-dash displays, is the major perk in Apple's latest iPhone software update.

Apple has released an iOS 7.1 update for iPhones.

The software, said Apple, is "packed with interface refinements, bug fixes, improvements" and other new features. But the primary reason for the update is the CarPlay, software that was introduced at the Geneva International Motor Show March 3 and is compatible with in-car software now in the newest vehicles available from Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo.

With CarPlay, a user connects her iPhone to her car and the phone's capabilities—or, safer, more driving-friendly versions of them—become available through the car's in-dash display.

Users can interact with CarPhone via voice instructions, the car's touch-screen, or knobs and dials, depending on the car's design. Users can tell an improved version of Siri to place a call, return a call, read aloud messages and respond to them.

Users also have hands-free access to maps and directions ("All you have to do is ask," says Apple), as well as iTunes radio and all the audio content on their iPhones.

Eventually, CarPlay will also arrive in vehicles from BMW, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia Motors, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan, PSA Peugeot Citroen, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota.

Other iOS 7.1 improvements include the following:

• A smarter Siri: She now knows, said Apple, when to stop listening.

• Camera improvements: Users can automatically enable HDR on the iPhone 5S.

• An updated look and feel: Apple has made subtle refinements to user interfaces, such as the incoming call screen.

• An improved calendar: It's now easier to see upcoming events.

• Touch ID improvements: Fingerprint recognition has been improved.

• Bugs have been crushed: Apple has figured out and fixed a glitch that made the home screen crash.

iPhone 4 owners will reportedly also enjoy "improved responsiveness and performance."

That certainly was not the case with iOS 7.

Apple support forums filled with complaints from users of older (slower, more limited memory) iPhones experiencing everything from crashes to sluggishness to delays that made the phone near-unusable, they said.

One forum poster, using the handle erin294, said she called Apple Support and the customer service representative, who said he also had an iPhone 4, agreed that iOS 7 was not compatible with the iPhone 4.

"I do not have enough money to buy a new phone and fact is I shouldn't have to. I shouldn't have to fix what Apple broke," she wrote, not alone in feeling that Apple was bullying her to upgrade her device.

"I think the same… They want us to buy a new iPhone 5," wrote a user with the handle alonsover."

A California man, Mark Menacher, irked by his iPhone's suggestion to upgrade to iOS 7 each time he turned on his device, went so far as to file a small-claims complaint against Apple CEO Tim Cook.

"Apple's disregard for customer preferences in relation to iOS7 is corporate thuggery," Menacher said in a statement.

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