One week ago today, Apple’s released its first iOS 10.1 beta for iPhone and iPad developers (as well as anyone out there with a developer account). The new software packed a number of bug fixes and enhancements, but the star of the show was the addition of Apple’s new Portrait Mode feature for the iPhone 7 Plus. Using Portrait Mode, the dual camera setup on the iPhone 7 Plus creates a “bokeh” effect, subtly blurring the background of an image and creating an effect that resembles a photo captured by a DSLR. You can check out this post to see how the quality of Portrait Mode photos actually compares to DSLR shots.
Portrait Mode is a hotly anticipated feature for every iPhone 7 Plus owner out there, and it already works quite well in the first iOS 10.1 beta if you want to give it a shot. But there’s another new feature in iOS 10.1 that no one is talking about right now, and it’s going to be an even bigger deal for iPhone 7 Plus users than Portrait Mode.
I installed Apple’s first iOS 10.1 beta shortly after it was released last week, and I’ve spent plenty of time with the new Portrait Mode feature Apple added to the camera app. It’s pretty incredible how well the feature works, especially in good outdoor lightning, so it’s no mystery why so many people are talking about it.
But why isn’t anyone talking about an even better new feature Apple added to the iPhone 7 Plus in its first iOS 10.1 beta?
We all know that Apple’s new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are the fastest smartphones on the planet when it comes to real-world performance. Just look at how brutally the iPhone 7 beat Samsung’s best phone in a speed test. What’s interesting, however, is that early speed tests showed that the iPhone 7 Plus had no real advantage over the iPhone 7 despite having an extra gigabyte of RAM.
Some people speculated that the additional RAM was really only fully utilized for image processing — I even surmised as much in my iPhone 7 review. This may indeed be the case for the time being, but Apple appears to have made some big changes in its first iOS 10.1 beta.
In iOS builds older than iOS 10.1 beta 1, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus regularly flush apps that have been minimized to the background. This means that when you switch back to an app, it needs to be refreshed again because the iPhone hasn’t saved its state. In iPhone 7 Plus units that have iOS 10.1 beta 1 installed, however, this is no longer the case.
I noticed the change shortly after updating, and it looks like some other iPhone 7 Plus users have noticed it as well. Far more apps have their states saved, which means faster overall performance since there is no longer any waiting for most apps to refresh when you switch back to them. The potential bad news is that iOS 10.1 is still a beta, and there’s no confirmation that the improved RAM management will make it to the release version. It would be odd for Apple to backtrack, of course, but we’ll still have to wait and see.