iOS Updates

24 06 2014

Apple Inc. implements an adapted version of it’s computer operating system OSX on it’s iPhone. It was called iPhone OS and on March 6, 2008 renamed in iOS.

Until iOS, smartphones either didn’t have a touchscreen or used a resistive touchscreen and a stylus. The iPhone changed that with its capacitive touchscreen, but more importantly Apple carefully wedded that new hardware capability to a new user interaction model that was simultaneously simpler and more powerful than systems that had come before it. Removing all physical buttons, Apple made touch the primary interaction model. Apple also nearly perfected pinch-to-zoom and inertial scrolling to make apps feel more natural and immediate. The speed and “directness” in iOS 1.0 was amazing then and remains amazing now.

Since iOS 5.0 software updates can be installed Over-The-Air (OTA) as an alternative to updates via iTunes. Since June 6, 2011 – the announcement of iOS 5.0 – a USB connection to iTunes is no longer needed to activate iOS devices; data synchronization can happen automatically and wirelessly through Apple’s iCloud service. The most recent major update, iOS 7, sees the addition of many new features, including a new flat theme, AirDrop support, and Control Center.

On March 10, 2014 Apple released it’s first major update for iOS 7. As usual the whole internet was spammed with more or less useful information, mainly saying “It’s there, guys. Download it now!”. It always happens that Apple’s servers are demoted to giant heaters when the world starts downloading what Apple’s software engineers cooked.

With a major update the long way of refinements starts. With this we should always keep in mind that OS developers are responsible for possible crashes all over the world. Trepidation increases to a level unknown to users before the servers are liberated. So let!s be sympathetic if expectations are not satisfied.

It’s better to have a running system than to keep on dreaming.

Heartbeat frequencies near to the frequency of your device’s processor are unhealthy and if your device already supports your daily tasks without crashes you should feel comfortable with it.

Over-The-Air update …

An OTA update can be done by connecting an iOS device to the internet via WiFi.

Unfortunately your device doesn’t remind you that an update is available. You have to open Settings – General – Software Update to let your device look for newer versions of iOS. Also keep in mind that a VPN or proxy connections may prevent your device from contacting Apple’s iOS update servers.

If there is an update the installation procedure can be started. But it’s always a good idea to first backup your device. You never know what can go wrong and Murphy’s law tells us ‘What can go wrong, will go wrong’ although I personally never had a problem since 2010 when buying my first iPhone, a 3GS.

Note

If you have an actual backup you can use it to restore all data even in case of a complete failure of the device. If this happens there is something you can do before the last will becomes true. Run through the RECOVERY procedure to restore iOS, the apps, and the data.

These images show the steps to get an updated version of iOS.

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During the following steps your device should be connected to a power supply or the remaining battery energy should indicate at least 50%.

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If your device is short of memory it might happen that a newer version of iOS cannot be downloaded, because it needs enough space to temporarily keep both, the old version and the new components. In this case follow theses advices:

Out of Memory

Notes

  • The download of an update is a background task so you can accept incoming phone calls.
  • Best practice is not to use third-party apps when downloading.
  • If your device doesn’t show an available update it’s likely that it doesn’t fulfill the installation requirements, the update is not yet available for your country, or Apple’s update servers are temporarily overloaded.

If you cannot connect to a WiFi network you have to install an iOS update via iTunes. First backup your device and make sure that the latest version of iTunes is installed. Disconnect all other USB devices. They may cause problems.

It’s not all roses …

To install brand new versions of an OS is always a risk even if it’s made by Apple. Others e.g. Microsoft also had problems if we remember the launch of Windows Vista.
See what happened with the release of iOS 7 in October 2013:

  • People were able to bypass the lockscreen. This flaw was discovered within hours of it becoming publicly available. The exploit is only able to be done on the iPhone 4S and 5 with the 5S and 5C safe from this bug. The access is caused by the ability to use the control center via the lock screen, this feature is able to be turned off.
  • Users complained about dizziness and vertigo-like symptoms when using this operating system (motion sickness).
  • Battery problems with battery draining even though sleeping.
  • Many users were faced with accidental Home Screen crashes occurring every one in a while with different apps.
  • Data security Secure transport failed to validate the authenticity of connection. This issue was addressed by restoring missing validation steps. This may cause an attacker with a privileged network position to capture or modify data in sessions protected by SSL/TLS.

Like with many other major updates it’s always recommended to first read what’s published about a new version before installing it. There is no need to hastily update devices especially if you need them for your daily tasks.

Fragmentation …

In this context we talk about fragmentation as the installation of different versions of an operating system on actually used devices.

Fragmentation comes up if customers don’t take care of new versions, updates cannot be installed on a device because it’s too old or not adapted by manufactures who used to sell their devices with specific adaptions of the OS.

It needs enormous efforts to bring hardware and software engineers together to look into the future and design hardware components usable also for future versions of an OS. And there are the developers who have been taken into account. Compatibility over many generations of devices might be the reason why iOS is still the preferred platform for developers.

Competitors show us that the alternative is to build devices regardless what happens with newer versions of the OS.

It’s up to you to buy low build-quality for just being fashionable and getting virtual added value. It’s a vicious circle to always buy a new device for just getting all the improved features of a newer OS version.

Apple wants a perfect user experience for most of it’s loyal customers even if they use older devices. So there are restrictions for every new OS version and it’s obvious that the company never will get the pole position in market share but in customer satisfaction.

See this concept map which shows us that Apple usually covers up to three models of the iPhone, the actual and two older models. Since the release of iOS 6 even 4 models were ready to install iOS 6 and with iOS 7 and iOS 8 (announced at the WWDC on June 2, 2014) 5 models are ready to install these OS versions.

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And this always happens nearly with the speed of light compared to competitors.

Nearly 12 percent of iOS customers in the USA upgraded to iOS 7.1 within 48-hours of its release, the latest data shows.

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This can be measured by counting the devices which access the internet and with this transfer the version of their OS.

See what the Apple evangelist Jonny Evans wrote on Computerworld:

These figures compare well with Android activity levels. As recently as March 4, Google reported that its latest KitKat operating system has only a 2.5 percent adoption rate. Fragmentation within Apple’s biggest OS competitor is visible:

  • 62 % of Android users are using Jelly Bean (4.1-4.3, which began to hit devices from July 2012 and was last updated in July 2013)
  • 15.2 % use Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0.3-4.0.4, versions began shipping October 2011)
  • 19.0 % are stuck with Gingerbread (2.3.3-2.3.7, first began appearing December 2010)
  • 1.2 percent unfortunately still have Froyo (2.2, shipped May 2010)

The inference here is that while around 12 percent of iOS device owners already run the latest version of the OS, an insignificant 2.5 percent of Android device owners can claim to be fully up-to-date. Most Android devices run veteran operating systems.

The cohesive nature of Apple’s ecosystem is also good news for developers because as most iOS devices run current iOS versions it is easier to create consistent experiences for large numbers of potential customers.

But there is also a risk.

Although Apple forwards Beta-versions of a new update to developers not all of them take care about necessary changes of their apps. So it might happen that an app gets buggy after installing a newer version of iOS. So it’s always a good idea to install apps from reliable companies and you usually can identify them by looking at the version history of an app in the AppStore before buying it.

Summary …

It just works and even users of older devices benefit from minor or major improvements of features and security of the operating system.

Related links …

Apple: iOS updating

Apple: iOS update errors in iTunes

Recovery

Troubleshooting

The Verge: The history of iOS

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