Apple has updated Mac OS X Lion to version 10.7.1, fixing only a small number of important bugs and revealing that the recently released MacBook Air and Mac mini models were on a slightly different development track, since they get their own updates.
Should you update? Apple’s recent woes with minor Mac OS X updates lead me to suggest that it might be worth waiting a few days, but this update is so focused that the chance that it would introduce significant new problems seems low. As always, we recommend you have a solid backup in place before proceeding with a system update until such time as Apple allows us to roll-back from a problematic update.
Mac OS X 10.7.1 -- With OS X Lion Update 10.7.1 (Client), Apple calls out only five specific fixes, and while there are undoubtedly a few others, the update is small — only 17.4 MB via Software Update for me, and 79.29 MB from Apple’s site — implying that it really is a focused update. The fixes:
“Address an issue that may cause the system to become unresponsive when playing a video in Safari.” Although Apple’s description makes no reference to the significant video freezes that users of recent iMacs have encountered under Lion, both Kirk McElhearn and Michael Cohen tell me that they haven’t experienced any freezes since upgrading to 10.7.1 (see “Video Viewing in Lion Freezes New iMacs,” 4 August 2011). So perhaps this bug has been eliminated!
“Resolve an issue that may cause system audio to stop working when using HDMI or optical audio out.” This sounds remarkably like the fix in the Mac OS X 10.6.8 Supplemental Update that was necessary to resolve the audio problems introduced in the move from 10.6.7 to 10.6.8. Apple described that bug as “System audio that stops working when using HDMI or optical audio out.”
“Improve the reliability of Wi-Fi connections.” This has been a major problem for Lion users, to the point where there are several lengthy complaint threads in the Apple Support Communities, one with over 500 comments and another with nearly 400 comments. Hopefully 10.7.1 does indeed resolve the problem — some of the discussions suggest that the combination of updating to 10.7.1 and resetting the PRAM and SMC may be efficacious.
“Resolve an issue that prevents transfer of your data, settings, and compatible applications to a new Mac running OS X Lion.” Wait, we’ve heard this before too, with the Migration Assistant updates that Apple has released for both 10.6 Snow Leopard and 10.5 Leopard.
“Resolve an issue in which an admin user account could be missing after upgrading to OS X Lion.” Oddly, this fix is listed only on the About page for 10.7.1, not on the download page for the update or in Software Update. Definitely a good bug to address, though.
If you have one of the just-released MacBook Air or Mac mini models, there’s a different update for you, the OS X Lion 10.7.1 Update for MacBook Air and Mac mini 2011 (Client) (68.86 MB). Along with the previously mentioned fixes, it includes fixes that:
“Resolve an issue where MacBook Air may boot up when MagSafe Adapter is attached.”
“Resolve an issue causing intermittent display flickering on MacBook Air.”
“Resolve an issue that causes the SD card slot in Mac mini to run at reduced speed with SD and SDHC media.”
Hopefully, with 10.7.2, the new MacBook Air and Mac mini will be brought back into the fold so we won’t have separate updates to track.
Mac OS X Server 10.7.1 -- The OS X Lion Update 10.7.1 (Server), which is an 88.26 MB download, addresses exactly the same five bugs, with only one additional change called out on its About page — improvements in the reliability of the Apple File Service.
And, since Apple sells a Mac OS X Server configuration of the new Mac mini and you can install Mac OS X Server on a new MacBook Air (though that seems like an unusual action to take), there’s a special update for these machines as well, the OS X Lion 10.7.1 Update for Mac mini 2011 (Server). It’s 78.11 MB, and includes the same MacBook Air and Mac mini fixes as the client version of 10.7.1.
Waiting for 10.7.2 -- As with the 10.6.1 update to Snow Leopard, 10.7.1 is so small that it seems clear that Apple is using it to stamp out just the most egregious bugs (see “Tiny Mac OS X 10.6.1 Update Fixes Some Bugs,” 10 September 2009). The question is, then, when we’ll see 10.7.2, and if it will go beyond fixing major bugs to address more minor concerns and changes that, while not actually bugs, seem counter-productive.