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Operating systems software Reviews
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Apple iPhone 2.1 software review

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Manufacturer: Apple

Our Rating: We rate this 4.5 out of 5

Apple promised us that the iPhone 2.1 update would save us all from the iPhone 2.0's sins, but as it turns out, the software brings with it more than just bug fixes.

iPhone 2.0 brought a lot of cool features with it, but it also brought a lot of bugs. Performance was slow, calls dropped often, and the battery life was less than impressive - and that's just the major problems.

Apple promised us that the iPhone 2.1 update would save us all from the iPhone 2.0's sins, but as it turns out, the software brings with it more than just bug fixes. Apple also took the time to sneak in a few new features along with its extensive mea culpa.

Music to your ears

The most significant feature changes in iPhone 2.1 come in the device's iPod application. For one thing, in most views when displaying a list of tracks, the iPod app borrows a page from Apple's Remote application, showing the artist and album in smaller text underneath.

When browsing Podcasts or Videos, the iPhone 2.1 software also gives you more information. Rather than displaying a blue dot next to a video or podcast that hasn't been listened to or watched, the software now also shows a blue half-moon for videos that have been started but not finished.

And in the case of podcasts, it will also tell you how much time remains from the point at which you stopped listening. Telling episodes apart is easier too, since the iPhone will also show you when episodes were published, the episode name, and the full runtime.

Real Genius

The biggest addition to the iPod application is, of course, the new Genius feature that pervades all of the new products that Apple introduced this week. (Our iTunes 8.0 review explains the Genius in greater depth.) You'll need to sync your iPhone to your computer before you get access to Genius, but once it's installed creating a Genius playlist is easy: When listening to a song, tap the album art to show the scrubber panel. Nestled in between the shuffle and repeat controls is the Genius's "atom" icon. Tapping that will generate a Genius playlist based on the playing track.

Once you've created a Genius playlist - which, unlike iTunes, is limited to 25 tracks on the iPhone - you can save it, refresh it with new songs, or create a Genius playlist based on a different song on your iPhone. Saving the playlist will add it to your existing playlists; it'll be named after the song on which the playlist was based and there'll be a Genius icon next to it. There's also a "Genius" playlist that permanently resides at the top of the playlist list and shows the last playlist you generated.

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Apple iPhone 2.1 Expert Verdict »

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