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iOS Updates Adjust iPhone Bars, Apply iPad Fixes

Apple released updates to the two branches of its mobile operating system, addressing the way signal bars are displayed on the iPhone and fixing bugs on the iPad. iOS 4.0.1 for iPhone, and iOS 3.2.1 for iPad are both available now.

iOS 4.0.1 for iPhone -- iOS 4.0.1 primarily modifies the formula used to determine cellular signal strength. Apple promised this update at the beginning of the month in response to reception problems caused by bridging the iPhone 4's external antennas when holding the phone (see "iPhone Signal Strength Sets Bars Too High," 2 July 2010). The change doesn't address the signal issue; instead, it allegedly reports the signal strength more accurately. Apple did, however, increase the size of the first three bars to make them more prominent (and, no doubt, to make people feel better about the reduced reception).


The update also quietly addresses sync issues with Exchange ActiveSync Mail, Contacts, or Calendars that may cause syncing to fail or go slowly. Some Exchange Server administrators may also notice their systems running more slowly due to this problem. The update resolves these issues by installing a new configuration file that increases the amount of time an iOS 4 device will wait for a sync request response from the Exchange Server.

Apple has released a beta of iOS 4.1 to developers, and held a special iPhone 4 press conference to address the signal concerns that have gained significant media attention (see "Apple Responds to iPhone 4 Antenna Issue," 16 July 2010). Even a United States Senator, Charles Schumer (D-NY), weighed in.

The update works with the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, and iPhone 3G. The original iPhone is not capable of running iOS 4, and the iPod touch remains at version 4.0.

iOS 3.2.1 Software Update for iPad -- Both models of the iPad (Wi-Fi and 3G) gain a handful of fixes in iOS 3.2.1, which Apple calls out as follows:

  • Improved Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Fixed an issue that could prevent copy and paste of single-page PDF attachments in Mail
  • Addressed an issue that could cause video playback to freeze
  • Improved reliability of video-out when using iPad Dock Connector to VGA Adapter
  • Added Bing as an option for Safari's search field

Both updates are available from within iTunes: connect your device, select it in the sidebar, and click the Check for Update button. iOS 4.0.1 is a 579.3 MB download; iOS 3.2.1 is a 456.9 MB download. (The updates are full images of the iOS, not just patches needed to update the operating system, which explains their large sizes. This approach enables easy restoration of the software within iTunes in case something goes wrong with the device.)


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Comments about iOS Updates Adjust iPhone Bars, Apply iPad Fixes
(Comments are closed.)

I don't see why the signal issue is big news. The news to me, IMHO, is the performance on iOS4 on the iPhone 3G (not Gs).

iOS4 has converted my 3G from a delightful and useful gadget into a paperweight. It frustrates me continuously with hangs, slow response, and disappearing apps (watchdog times out and kills the "hung" app).

Did Apple actually try this on a 3G.

Can Apple provide an official method for reverting back to version 3?
Norbert E Fuchs  An apple icon for a TidBITS Benefactor 2010-07-16 03:05
I agree. Since I installed iOS4 on my iPhone 3G response is very slow, and there are more crashes than before.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2010-07-18 12:54
As far as I know, there's no official method for reverting (though several unofficial ones). I have heard, though haven't yet been able to verify, that simply restoring the iPhone 3G several times from scratch would improve performance. We have a slow one, so I'll get a chance to test this when I can find the time.
Yep, the signal bars in iOS4 is the least of my worries.

I no longer get a reliable internet connection no matter how often I restart, and the whole phone (3GS) seems much slower and clunkier. If this is multitasking, Apple, then you have yet to learn how to walk and chew gum.

Also, am I the only one who thinks it's ridiculous that a minor signal strength algorithm and an Exchange settings file adds up to 400+MB? Insanity.
Jeff Carlson  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2010-07-19 20:58
As I mentioned at the end of the article, updates are a complete image of the iOS, so that if you need to do a restore, you just have to do it once and not go apply patches.
I've been having issues with my iPad wifi since I got it last month. I've tried going back to the Apple store, where they did a restore on it. That helped some, but when I move away from my router it drops to one spot and it drops the Internet. I've updated to the latest sw, but the connection is really slow. Anyone else having these issues? If I have to sit next to the router, I have an $800 brick. It's an iPad wifi + 3G.
Jeff Carlson  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2010-07-19 21:03
Does the problem happen when you're using another network, such as at a Starbucks or McDonald's? The problem could be your router. Do other devices in the same range have that problem? Have you checked for interference-causing items like baby monitors, cordless phones, etc? There are a lot of possibilities.