In addition to several significant design tweaks, it looks like we'll be getting a female version of Siri in the UK when iOS 7.1 is released, which could be any day now.
Rumour has it that Apple will be rolling out iOS 7.1 within days. Daring Fireball's John Gruber says Apple has been working on an SXSW companion app for its iTunes Festival that'll take place during the event in Texas, and that this app is designed exclusively for iOS 7.1. With SXSW starting on 11 March, that means we'll all need to have the update installed before then.
Update: The iTunes Festival app has been released but no sign of iOS 7.1 yet. We still expect iOS 7.1 to arrive any day now, though. Continue reading to find out what iOS 7.1 will bring.
The third and fourth beta versions of iOS 7.1 released in January revealed that the update will bring further design tweaks, bug fixes and Siri improvements to the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. Apple then released iOS 7.1 beta 5, which is believed to be the last beta version of the update before the gold master is seeded to developers. With the latest beta comes our first listen to the new 'natural-sounding' UK Siri voices, which include a brand-new female voice.
iOS 7.1: new Siri voices
Reports that Apple is planning to add a female voice to Siri in the UK arrived following the release of the fourth beta of iOS 7.1, but it wasn't until iOS 7.1 beta 5 was released that we got official word from Apple about the changes and our first listen to the new voice.
Those using Siri in UK English will soon have the the option to change Siri from male to female using the "Voice Gender" settings. Not only has a female voice been added, but Apple has also changed the sound of the male voice to sound more natural.
"This seed adds natural-sounding Siri Voices for English (Australia), English (United Kingdom), Japanese, and Chinese (Mandarin - China)," reads Apple's release notes. "The iOS device initially uses a compact voice for Siri. After you have configured a WiFi network and have the device connected to a power source, iOS will automatically download and install a higher quality version."
Apple Insider has shared clips of each of the new voices so you can hear what they'll sound like when they arrive on your device with the update.
iOS 7.1: Phone app
One of the most significant changes is to the Phone app. The incoming call and outgoing call screens now have circular call, decline and accept buttons rather than the current rectangular buttons. It looks like the full-screen images that currently appear when calling or being called by a contact with a photo associated have been replaced by small circular icons beside the contact.
iOS 7.1: Keyboard
Apple has tweaked the design of the keyboard in iOS 7.1, making the typography a little bolder and changing the grey to a slightly darker and bluer tone. The shift and delete buttons now have white symbols, rather than the black outline icons they have in iOS 7.0.
iOS 7.1: Power off screen
We're undecided about the new power off screen. Some of us think the circular buttons and rounded slider are an improvement over the rectangular buttons found on the power off screen currently, while others (namely me) think it looks quite horrible.
Apple has replaced the red slide to power off with a translucent slider, and the stylish arrow with a more familiar power icon.
iOS 7.1: Accessibility options
Apple has added options to the accessibility menu of iOS 7.1, allowing users to reduce the white point, darken colours and add button shapes for tappable areas.
iOS 7.1: Music app
In the iOS 7.1 beta, Apple has also made the Music app's Repeat All and Shuffle All buttons a brighter pink with white text.
iOS 7.1: iOS in the Car, now called CarPlay
Apple has added a toggle to enable or disable "Car Display" in the Restrictions Settings of iOS 7.1, hinting that iOS in the Car could arrive with iOS 7.1 when it launches. Apple has now announced that CarPlay, a rebranded version of iOS in the Car, will arrive with a future update, which we assume is iOS 7.1. Find out more about CarPlay here.
iOS 7.1: Other tweaks
Other iOS 7.1 tweaks include slightly brighter icons and the ability to turn parallax on or off when setting wallpapers rather than having to go deep into the Settings menu to do so.
iOS 7.1 closes jailbreak loophole - Evasi0n7 tool won't work any more
Along with the design tweaks and new features, iOS 7.1 will reportedly prevent the recently released iOS 7 jailbreak tool from Evasi0n working. As reported in Cult of Mac, an Evasi0n team member named iH8sn0w said on Twitter on Tuesday:
So the code sign bug that evasi0n7 uses still exists in 7.1b4. Kernel exploit looks patched though :P— iH8sn0w (@iH8sn0w) January 21, 2014
But this is fairly normal in the world of jailbreaking - as CoM puts it, "The dance begins anew" - and Evasi0n will no doubt be hard at work coming up with a tool that can breach iOS 7.1.
We expect several further beta versions to be tested before the public release, which speculation suggests will arrive in March. Here's a list of some of the changes that you're likely to see when Apple releases iOS 7.1 to the public. We'll be updating this article with further changes as new versions of the beta are released.
It's worth noting that Apple could still tweak the design further before the final version is released, or perhaps even ditch some of the changes completely. But it's likely that many of these changes will make it into the update that we expect to see released at some point in the coming months.
Apple still needs to address several more bugs before rolling out the updates, including a bug that stops 32-bit apps working properly on 64-bit devices such as the iPad Air and iPhone 5s.
Apple first seeded iOS 7.1 to developers in November, with the build number 11d5099e. The current iOS 7.1 beta 4's build number is 11D5134c. Read on to see the changes.
We'll update this article with more iOS 7.1 changes as we see them.
What do you think about the changes Apple has made in the beta of iOS 7.1? Let us know in the comments section below or on Twitter.The Complete Guide to the iPhone 5s & 5c is on-sale now. Click here for buying information.