This article originally appeared in TidBITS on 2010-09-09 at 5:36 a.m.
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iOS 4.1: Does it Work? Should You Install It?

by Tonya Engst

As Apple announced last week, iOS 4.1 is now available for download and installation via iTunes. I recommend that you install it, assuming you have an iPhone or iPod touch that can run it, meaning any iPhone or iPod touch other than the first generation of either model. iPad users must wait for iOS 4.2, scheduled for release in November 2010, before they get iOS 4 features.

Lots of people have already updated to iOS 4.1 without a hitch, and the new features and fixes make it a worthwhile update. Some changes, such as better performance for the iPhone 3G, more complete Bluetooth support, and HDR photos on the iPhone 4, make these devices more useful; other changes, such as iTunes Store TV rentals and the new Game Center, will make them more entertaining to many users.

If you have an iPhone 4, you'll find a few iOS 4.1 changes that aren't available on the other devices:

If you have any iOS 4-capable device besides the iPhone 3G, the new Game Center app will appear on your home screen, giving you access to multi-player games.

And, iOS 4 makes these changes, no matter which iOS 4-capable device you install it on:

You can read more about the new features and fixes in "Apple Previews iOS 4.1 and 4.2 [2]" (1 September 2010).

An important additional fix listed in Apple's release notes is better performance for the iPhone 3G. Following up on my article "Speed Up Your iOS 4-Based iPhone 3G [3]" (27 August 2010), I installed the update on my iPhone 3G. I can't tell if the iPhone 3G is exactly as fast with iOS 4.1 as it was with iOS 3.1.3, but it seems about the same. Many reports on the Web confirm my impression. If you'd like to see for yourself, watch the iPhone 3G Speed Test: iOS 4.0 version iOS 4.1 [4] video at Lifehacker. Thumbs up to Apple for not leaving the iPhone 3G abandoned on the highway of progress, though it would have been better if iPhone 3G owners hadn't had to suffer months of poor performance and poor communication about the problem.

Although several people have reported that iOS 4.1 has solved performance problems on the second-generation iPod touch, Apple said nothing about it in the release notes for iOS 4.1.

Further, a new feature of iOS 4 overall is that notes from the Notes app can sync with MobileMe. In iOS 4.1 Apple inexplicably removed this feature from the iPhone 3G and the second-generation iPod touch. Apple mentions this removal briefly in a support article [5] that was modified last week. Better release notes would have saved time and trouble for those who unexpectedly lost the capability to sync their notes wirelessly.

(By the way, several readers have commented that one tip or another in the article about speeding up an iPhone 3G improved the speed of an iPhone 3G running iOS 3.1.3. The article is likely worth a read if your iPhone - whatever model - is running slowly.)

Installing iOS 4.1 will take some time, so don't start the update right before you want to leave the house. It took about 30 minutes to download and install iOS 4.1 on my iPhone 3G and about 20 minutes on my iPhone 3GS. In both cases, I was already running iOS 4.0.2. If you're still running iOS 3.1.3, expect the update to take as long as a few hours, especially if you have a lot of content on your device.