Apple seems to have had a Cyber Monday surprise of its own lined up, releasing iOS 5.1 Beta (build 9B5117b) to developers this evening. We've updated an iPhone 4S of our own to 5.1, and thus far the update looks superficially identical to iOS 5.0.1. Baseband firmware on the iPhone 4S gets a rather notable update to 1.2.01-1 from 1.0.13. 

The release notes are rather spartan, and the only major new feature in iOS 5.1 are new voice dictation features in text input views:

On supported devices, iOS automatically inserts recognized phrases into the current text view when the user has chosen dictation input. The new UIDictationPhrase class (declared in UITextInput.h) provides you with a string representing a phrase that a user has dictated. In the case of ambiguous dictation results, the new class provides an array containing alternative strings. New methods in the UITextInput protocol allow your app to respond to the completion of dictation.

There's no word on whether iOS 5.1 mitigates power-related issues that iPhone 4S users are still complaining of. We'll update if we see anything major changed in 5.1.

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  • Glibous - Monday, November 28, 2011 - link

    This is another update intended to patch any discovered exploits so people can't jailbreak their phones/tablets. When developers come close to finding another exploit expect to see 5.1.1 or 5.2. This is what they mean when they say "Bug fixes".

    Only really worth updating when major improvements are made. I have an iPhone 4 and if the bulk of features have to do with dictation then there is no real reason for me to update.
  • solipsism - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - link

    No OS is perfect. There are actual "bugs" being fixed which include, but are not limited to, the bugs the JB community use to exploit iOS.

    There is a big jump in baseband firmware and battery issues remaining after the 5.0.1 update so I'd say that is proof enough this is more than simply trying to block JBers.
  • Glibous - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - link

    It is unfair
  • Glibous - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - link

    Damn iPhone... Anyways it is unfair of me to say the updates are strictly for thwarting any attempt of jailbreaking your iPhone. That's not what I meant but I do believe it strongly has to do with how frequent the updates come out. It's clearly a race for if an exploit is discovered and released in the form of a utility for people to use compared to being patched and "back to the drawing board". There are positive and unfortunately some negative changes to the OS that have to be worked out. The battery issue being one. My battery life was a lot better before iOS 5.0.1. But I'm sure it will eventually be resolved. As for the baseband updates... Some improvements but I believe again with how frequent the updates are is to help against unlocking the basebands for people to use the phone on other networks.

    It's just Apple's balance between quality and control.

    P.s sorry for the mistakes. Posting on my.....iphone
  • inplainview - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - link

    Again, who is forcing you to buy an iPhone. You know how it has been since day one and you're still complaining?
  • Glibous - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - link

    Not complaining, just stating what it is. I don't really care about jailbreaking...but I have had their delta update brick my phone..and the most recent update degraded performance, so if there is cause for complaint...that would be it. If you read my post it was stating my observation on how frequent updates have been, and how minor the fixes were compared to previous IOS releases 2 and 3. I found this new release schedule started since 4.... My only real complaint in my last post was that I was typing on my iPhone and it went crazy on me and posted...but thats not a big issue.
  • hansfilipelo - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - link

    The battery life issues are related to the baseband.

    There are also many user who are having problems with their cellular connection due to this. This update clearly is a giant bugfix.
  • Brian Klug - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - link

    Considering how they've been steadily updating the baseband firmware with each beta and bugfix, I'd say that clearly something is going on there. A day later I haven't really noticed anything major subjectively different, but we'll see.

  • GDGarcia - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    Hi All-
    Wondering if anybody has experienced/heard of a "No Service" issue with iOS 5 on GSM networks. Got a 4S on AT&T that started having reception problems after 5.0.1 update. I have had AT&T for 3 years and never had any problems. Discussions are pointing towards Modem Firmware 1.0.13. Apple says that it is an AT&T problem, AT&T sends you to Apple and I am stuck in the middle with an iTouch 4S. Really disappointed with Apple right now. Battery issue is moot if I can't even use the phone!! Anybody? Apple is silent and hope we will just accept it as normal and go away
  • solipsism - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    I've heard of a similar issue which will drop calls when WiFi is enable, even if not connected. They had Apple replace the device.

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