One of the top two or three advantages that the iPhone has over Android handsets has nothing to do with new handsets. It’s the fact that when a new iPhone is imminent, owners of old iPhones can upgrade to the new version of iOS as soon as they like. Lack of fragmentation is a wonderful thing.
Apple released iOS 5 on Wednesday. It’s excellent–and Dan Moren’s Macworld review is an excellent summary of what’s new and worthwhile. If you have a recent iPhone and/or an iPad, get it–the new notification features alone are a huge deal, and they’re just the beginning. But taking your time about the upgrade is a perfectly rational strategy.
Here’s my advice:
1. Let others discover problems. There have been scattered reports of iOS 5 woes today–both difficulty downloading and installing it at all, and ones involving post-installation glitches. That’s neither surprising nor a sign that iOS 5 isn’t fully baked: Some percentage of people who upgrade to any new version of OS will have problems, and it’s entirely possible that iOS 5 is less troublesome overall than most. But if you don’t rush, you’re less likely to be one of the people who uncovers a bug Apple didn’t know about.
2. Check your apps. iOS 5 is different enough that some third-party programs will need an update to work perfectly. If you’ve got any software you can’t live without, monitor the App Store for reviews–if there are problems, users will mention them–and for updates that are advertised as being iOS 5-ready.
3. Wait until you can update at your leisure. If you do it on a lazy weekend, you can take your time. And if something goes awry, it’ll be less alarming than if you try to squeeze the upgrade into a busy workday.
4. Back up, back up, back up. Even if you think that your device has synced everything to your computer, do a fresh backup right before you update.
Like I say, I’m not predicting iOS 5 upgrade nightmares–I’ve put it on both my iPad 2 and iPhone 4 and didn’t encounter any gremlins. I just think that doing it at your own pace makes a lot more sense than rushing head-first into the process. And if you’ve already been through the experience, I’d love to hear your experiences.