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September 23, 2013

iOS 7: To Update or Not To Update?

Last September 18 (1 PM Eastern, 10 AM Pacific, and 1 AM Philippine Time), Apple released its latest operating system for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch called iOS 7. This new operating system is also built in the new iPhone 5S and 5C models.

Now, with all the frenzy that has swept over social media from owners of older Apple devices, I observed that there was a balance of happy and not so happy with the new iOS. This made me think whether I should I rush into the craze and update my Operating System (which, for your information, took hours or so, with download failure for most with substandard internet connections.)

This brought me to do some research on the topic. Hopefully after reading this, you will be better informed before you jump in and upgrade.

Here are what you need to know about the iOS 7.

tech ios7 photo 2

1. What is iOS 7?

Apple’s iOS is the software that controls all the basics of your gadget, including the look, feel, settings, and hardware. The iOS 7 is Apple’s latest update to this system and its biggest change since iOS debuted six years ago.

2. How is it different from what’s already on your older iPhone or iPad?

Since the debut of the first OS, its look has not changed. The new iOS has received a major design overhaul and, according to Apple, it has a more streamlined, flat, and abstract look. The typography is all new and nice touches like transparency and subtle animations are seen everywhere.

There are also a few new features, though some are not available on all older devices (like the original iPad and the iPhone 4).

Here are a few of the bigger changes:

  • A new time-saving control center slides up from the bottom of the screen for easy access to basic settings such as brightness and Airplane Mode. It has shortcuts for the flashlight, timer, calculator, and camera.
  • An updated notification center now shows a summary of what you have in store for the day and details on the weather and your commute.
  • The camera adds a square-photo option and new filters, while the photos app drops the map view and sorts your images into events by date and location.
  • It adds AirDrop, a feature for people who use iCloud, that makes it easier to move photos and files between computers and mobile devices. (This is not available in the 4S).
  • The Siri female voice adds an option for a male voice. You can use Siri as a search tool and it uses Bing for web searches. The search function also pulls info from Twitter and Wikipedia.
  • Multitasking looks different. The same double-click of the home button now zooms out to show a carousel of mini versions of all your open apps.

Given that all the changes applied were not so drastic, the new iOS won’t require a great deal of re-learning for long-time Apple users. The basic layout and functions are the same: the home screen is still a grid of icons; there’s a dock with your favorite apps at the bottom; and the gestures you’ve become used to work the same.

There will probably be some initial confusion as you struggle to re-acquaint yourself with all the new icons but a proper upgrade should leave them all in the same spots they were in before.

tech ios7 photo 2

3. Can I update my iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch?

Although iOS is coming out at the same time as a pair of brand new iPhone models, it can also be installed for free on some older devices.

At the press event announcing the new models, Apple CEO Tim Cook said there were 600 million devices running iOS. Just because you have a year-old iPhone 5 doesn’t mean you can’t freshen it up with the latest operating system. Look for your device below to see whether it is eligible:

Apple devices chart

Some of the cooler new features you may have heard about, like the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, the new camera tools, slow motion, burst mode, and image stabilization are available only on the new iPhone 5S.

4. Should I update?

Now just because your device is compatible doesn’t mean it should be upgraded right away. Once you update your device to iOS 7, there is no turning back, meaning you can never go back to your present iOS 6 or whichever earlier iOS you were running before you upgraded. (Although there are unofficial ways to downgrade, I will not recommend this on my blog for the sake of our readers who are regular iPhone and iPad users.)

So here’s the reality of the situation: if you are not in a rush to do the upgrade, then wait a few weeks or months until Apple releases the first updated version of iOS 7.

The fact is, and programmers will honestly tell you this, that the early release of the operation system may and can include bugs that should be addressed with subsequent iOS 7 updates.

Let other eager people spend the next few weeks finding and reporting these issues so you don’t have to deal with them.

For those with older devices, you may or can experience frustrating performance issues when you upgrade to the new OS. The iOS 7 software was designed specifically for hardware that is faster than your trusty old iPhone 4. If your device is anything older than the most recent generation, it might suddenly slow down and its battery life might suffer.

This should not be as much of a problem for newer devices, such as the iPhone 5, 4th generation iPad, iPad Mini, or the latest iPod Touch. If you are worried about performance issues, skip the update.

Updating immediately is recommended only for tech-savvy early adopters who are comfortable with the risks.

5. Are there any downsides of not updating?

For the time being, not much. You won’t have the new features to play with but your phone will continue to work as it always did. In the long run, though, there could be a few drawbacks and hitches. At present, Apple has been pushing developers to update their apps to be compatible with the iOS 7.

The updates can be as minor as changing the look of an icon or as major as adding all new features. There is a very realistic possibility that many developers may stop updating and supporting older versions of their apps as they move their focus to iOS 7. That means, eventually, you could be stuck with an out-of-date (or even non-working) version of your favorite app if you decide to go for it.

tech ios7 photo 3

6. I don’t care what you say! How do I upgrade and what do I do?

        2 Things!

        1. Back up: Before you make the leap, it is very important that you back up your iPhone or iPad. There is always a small chance your device could be wiped clean (i.e. you may lose all your data) in the upgrade process, so make a full backup of everything. To back up, plug your device into your computer, open iTunes, and if it does not start backing up automatically, click the “Back Up Now” button.

        If your photos are not set to back up automatically, use Image Capture or iPhoto on a Mac and Windows Explorer on a Windows PC to make copies of all your pictures.

        Another option is to skip the cord and back up to iCloud over Wi-Fi. On your device, go to Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup. Tap the “Back Up Now” button.

        2. Download the new iOS: You can get the update by plugging into a computer and opening iTunes (this is the faster option) or over a Wi-Fi connection directly to your phone.

        If iTunes doesn’t automatically ask whether you’d like to upgrade when you plug in, click “Check For Updates” in the Summary tab. It will do the rest automatically.

        From your phone, go to Settings, Software Update, and click the Install button. Make sure your phone is fully charged and connected to a Wi-Fi network and not your cellular network.

7. Have fun! And like what the great Mick Jagger said: “The past is a great place and I don’t want to erase it or to regret it, but I don’t want to be its prisoner either.”

Photo Credits: Business Insider, Cult for Mac, and iclarified.

*Photo used under the Fair Use Exemption of the IP Code.

If you want to look at more screen shots, go to Control Your Mac.


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