iPhone 2.1 software is released. Smaller than previous updates, but big changes noted

As promised, Apple rolled out the 2.1 software update for the iPhone this morning. Apple chief executive Steve Jobs unveiled the update at the company’s “Let’s Rock” event on Tuesday and said this is the one that will fix many of the issues users are having with their devices. Those issues included application bugs, dropped calls, poor battery life and back up speed.

Even though Jobs said this would be a “big update,” size-wise it’s actually smaller than either the 2.0.1 or 2.0.2 updates. This one weighs in at 237.8 megabytes (at least on a Mac) while both of the others were closer to 250 MB.

More importantly, this time around Apple has listed the issues that this update targets rather than vaguely stating that the update contains “Bug fixes.” Here they are:

  • Decrease in call set-up failures and dropped calls
  • Significantly better battery life for most users
  • Dramatically reduced time to backup to iTunes
  • Improved email reliability, notably fetching email from POP and Exchange accounts
  • Faster installation of 3rd party applications
  • Fixed bugs causing hangs and crashes for users with lots of third party applications
  • Improved performance in text messaging
  • Faster loading and searching of contacts
  • Improved accuracy of the 3G signal strength display
  • Repeat alert up to two additional times for incoming text messages
  • Option to wipe data after ten failed passcode attempts
  • Genius playlist creation

The 2.1 update is available for free for iPhone owners. It’s been available since Tuesday for iPod touch owners as well, as if free if you have any software version over 2.0. If you have 1.x, it’ll cost you $9.99 through iTunes.