Apple iPhone OS 3.1 Brings New Glitches Along with Slick Features

Apple Support discussion boards are filling up with complaints of iPhones turning off, batteries quickly draining and other glitches. Apple is consequently enlisting users to answer a survey, which hints they may know what's causing the problems.

The iPhone OS 3.1, introduced during Apple's recent San Francisco event, delivered new features aimed at pleasing both business users as well as consumers. But the new smartphone operating system brought along a few new glitches along with it.

The new version was supposed to provide a better iTunes experience, a smoother synchronization between Voice Control and Bluetooth headsets and calendar syncing with the Microsoft Exchange Server, among other features.

But now discussion boards are filling up with complaints about issues such as the iPhone suddenly freezing or shutting down, poor battery life, weird error messages, sluggish performance and podcasts being listed in random order.

"Ok, I updated last night without a hitch. But now I get random complete shut downs of the phone," wrote Headers22 on an Apple discussion board. "Same issue for me. After updating to 3.1 iPhone randomly shuts down," followed rrahimi. Randy Fast adds: "Same thing has happened to me 5 times, restore has not helped." The discussion thread regarding "random total shut downs following 3.1 update" is more than 1,000 posts long.

A separate thread details the battery issues that have followed updates to 3.1 "Since updating my 3G to 3.1 I am getting massive battery charge reduction. I can't get through a whole day now without the 20 percent warning kicking in around the late afternoon/evening. If I didn't charge by then it'd be dead by the end of the day. Prior to 3.1 that was never a problem," writes Recto Bold.

"Same problem for me and I can't connect to WiFi," follows a poster called aloron, along with several others. The lone dissenter is Etek, who chimes in, "I'm beginning to think I have a different iPhone 3G after reading all these issues here. No battery life reduced, no shutdowns. Yes, I have the 3.1 installed."

For a frozen or stuck iPhone, Apple suggests resetting the device by pressing and holding the Sleep/Wake button and the Home button at the same time for at least 10 seconds, or until the Apple logo appears.

Another, more involved option is to restore the iPhone. Before doing this, however, make sure to backup the device. "Although iTunes backs up most of your iPhone and iPod touch settings, downloaded applications, your audio, video and photo content are not included in the backup," Apple warns. Once you've done that, click the Restore button under the Summary tab in iTunes.

According to reports, Apple is aware of the battery issues and the Apple Care help desk has been contacting some posters to its discussion boards and presenting them with a list of 11 questions, regarding e-mail, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and apps. The note also includes an attachment that logs the user's iPhone battery life.

Ezra Gottheil, an Apple-focused analyst with Technology Business Research, calls the issues with OS 3.1 "surprising but by no means catastrophic or dangerous." He feels sure Apple will eventually figure out a fix.

"By it's very nature, the iPhone demands more [battery juice] than most phones, just because it's on more than most phones," he told eWEEK, emphasizing that people use and charge their iPhones more intensely than other phones.

"Secondly, each new version of the OS is doing more stuff ... and there are a lot of factors that go into doing an upgrade. It's likely that some optimization for battery life was not done sufficiently," Gottheil offers. "But the fact they're looking for information means they likely know of some concrete problem, or suspect one." Which is better, he clarifies, than randomly searching for answers.