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Will 2.1 be what 2.0 was supposed to be?

Thoughts about the new firmware update

As per usual, at the most inopportune time when I was already running late, I decided to sync my iPhone as I was getting ready to leave home today. Like clockwork, iTunes asks me if I'd like to update to Firmware 2.1. Would I? Unlike last time, I actually downloaded the update and took off to make my a Saturday class.

During a break, my fellow iPhone-laden class attendees got out their iPhones to check email, text messages and voicemail and the discussion turned to Firmware 2.1.

"Did you get it?" one fellow classmate asked eagerly.

Some of us had, and others, like me, had not. The only visual difference the few of us noted was that the iPod's song listings now listed the artists as well as the song title. But it was funny that we were talking about a firmware update like schoolgirls gossiping as the discussion quickly shifted to cool iPhone applications. Seismographs to levels to games....

On the way home, however, I ran into two of my friends who work at an Apple Store here in the Bay Area. One is a general floor rep and the other a Genius Bar rep. Both were touting the update as getting a new iPhone (essentially making the life of the Genius Bar rep a whole lot easier, me mused).

From what I've gathered from everyone I talked to today about the update (the whole point of non-geeky types talking about a firmware update is not lost on me) is the following: Somehow, Apple has increased 3G performance AND improved battery life in one fell swoop. Perhaps, some theorized, Firmware 2.1 has addressed 3G network access issues that drains battery life. Whether this involves AT&T slackening 3G access standards or if the change is on Apple's end doesn't really matter to me. The details behind the conclusion aren't critical to a lay user like me and my classmates. We saw a Firmware 2.0 iPhone placed next to a 2.1 and noting that 3G reception on the 2.0 was 2 bars while the 2.1 iPhone had 5 bars. Really? More bars everywhere for everyone AT&T?

Can't wait to see if this Firmware update finally makes good on AT&T's slogan of 'fewer calls dropped,' which has, thus far, rung hollow with the iPhone 3G.