Last night, Apple started the update process for its iOS operating system – users worldwide can now upgrade to iOS6, the system that powers the workings of your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. Even users with older hardware, such as the iPhone 3GS, can make the upgrade, though not all the new features are available to them. When you plug your iDevice into your computer to sync it with iTunes, the first thing the software does is check if a newer version is available, and asks you to upgrade it. If you’re facing that prompt about iOS6 now, should you click on “update”?
There are a lot of reasons to do it. The new OS comes with many updates – maps is getting the most attention because it’s a big step down from Google Maps, but until a new Google Maps app is available on the App Store, the best bet is to bookmark maps.google.com from Safari. Facebook is now integrated with the OS, much in the same way that Twitter was last year. Siri also makes it to the new iPad with iOS6, but new features such as booking tables at restaurants, and searching for movie tickets, won’t work in India.
Other new features include major tweaks to the interface, small changes to background colours and slider designs, and a big change to the sharing menu, which now has icons along with plain text. Safari is now faster, a big plus, while mail gets small tweaks. A big change is the new and improved App Store, which automatically updates apps, and attempts to make finding new apps simpler. In addition, iPhone 4S users can also take panorama photos like with the new iPhone 5.
There are a lot of tweaks and some major updates – full Facebook integration and Safari improvements stand out, and some of the issues such as Apple’s Maps being inferior to the earlier Google Map app can be worked around through the web version.
But there’s a downside too.
When iOS5 launched last year, Apple’s servers were inundated as millions of users around the world tried to update their devices at the same time. The net result was that updating your OS was a slow and error prone process – you’d watch the progress reach 90% and then return with an error message, telling you to start from the beginning, repeatedly.
And after going through the whole process, people found a less than perfect system in their hands. Like iOS6, iOS5 also underwent a huge beta test, lasting several months, over the course of which many bugs were removed, but iOS5 still had some stability issues, and performance issues.
Worse yet, for many users, the upgrade to iOS5 caused major battery issues, which Apple would address with iOS5.0.1 – that update addressed both the battery bug and a bug pertaining to saving documents using iCloud. These are not minor issues, and while they only affected a small percentage of all iOS users, why be one of them?
Apple tests their upgrades thoroughly, but some small bugs will get through. The company has been quick to respond in the past – the 5.0.1 update came through in less than a month. So why not wait for the inevitable issues to crop up and be resolved? After all, iOS6 has not been out for a day, and already we know that some users are experiencing WiFi issues.
Unless you’re an early adopter who needs the latest things before anyone else – don’t click update right away. Wait for a month, just to be safe. You can even enjoy Google Maps for longer than anyone else that way.