Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Apple Two Step

I realize it’s probably old news by now for our die hard Apple fans… IOS 10 is out.  To their credit, I think that Apple does a nice job with the updates; specifically, they overwhelming work as advertised with only minor hiccups here or there.  If you’re like me, you may regularly Google a question such as “Should I upgrade to IOS _____?”  The responses are predictable… one article saying “5 Reasons to upgrade” another maybe reading “4 Reasons why you shouldn’t upgrade…” and then there are always those that really want to confuse (or annoy) you by covering both bases… “5 reasons why you should and 3 reasons why you shouldn’t upgrade to…”  Let me make it simple for you – with any IOS upgrade, unless you are planning to soon sell the device or leave the Apple environment you should (and will) upgrade.  Over the long run, Apple and their vast store of apps will leave you little choice – you will upgrade or eventually, one day receive the dreaded, “you must have IOS xx” message when you try to download or update a chosen app.

At around the time that IOS 10 was rolled out, I also happened upon an opportunity to upgrade my iPad 4 to the latest iPad Air 2.  Having previous experience, I thought this would be a breeze… I had my old iPad set to back up on the cloud and would simply chose to set up my new iPad from that backup…or so I thought.  What quickly became apparent was that both my old and new iPads were running 2 different versions of IOS 9 (I believe 9.3 and 9.1).  One would think that if you restored using a back up, you’d simply restore both the operating system and data from that back up.  In the case of IOS, one would be wrong… if you are restoring a backup from say 9.1, your iPad needs to be running 9.1.  Needless to say this is a problem as there is not a mechanism to get your iPad back to 9.1.  (I can see this issue also arising with folks such as me that have an iPhone 4s that can only go to IOS 9.5 where you upgrade to a newer iPhone that will likely be running IOS 10 and you will have no way to take advantage of your backup set… this sort of defeats the purpose of a backup somewhat).

Long story short, my only options for the old and new iPad if I wished to use a back up would be to bring them both up to IOS 10 and then reset the new one and restore from the back up.  Initially, I had thought that this would be the way I would go, but after taking a closer look at the storage remaining on the “old” iPad I saw that only a little over 1gb was left so that clued me in that a good housekeeping was needed and that a “do over” for the new iPad was my best choice given the circumstances.  In regards to the old iPad I have decided to not upgrade it for now.  I plan to sell the old iPad on Craig’s list and occasionally notice that buyers sometimes want an earlier IOS so they can “jailbreak” (I’m not recommending, but leave this to the techies).  Otherwise, it should be a simple thing for buyers to make the upgrade if they chose.

One benefit of posing the “should I upgrade to IOS…” question to Google is that I did spot some isolated instances where users encountered issues while doing the upgrade wirelessly.  While these did seem very rare and there reports that the issue had been resolved, I took no chances and decided to perform the upgrade through iTunes.  I installed iTunes on my fastest computer knowing this to be a large upgrade.  This would be an i3 with 4gb RAM and and SSD drive.  I’d consider my wireless internet in the home to be about middle of the road in regards to speed (I realize that isn’t scientific – we pay for the basic tier of service with Time Warner).  I provide these rough specs because the update seemed to take a very long time and prompted me to also Google, “how long should update to IOS 10 take?”  Needless to say the results were slim because this will vary considerably.  The one response that I did spot indicated 15 minutes to “hours.”  I would estimate that my own experience was around one hour – give or take a little.  The download took the longest time and made me the most nervous as there is no progress indicator in regards to the status of the download – for such a big download, an indicator would have been reassuring.  Instead, about 30 minutes into it and the same “downloading” message I started to get a bit nervous.  Tip:  Anticipate that this update will take some time and make sure you are plugged in and do NOT interrupt the process once you start.  After the long download, the process went rather timely with messages reflecting the “unpacking” of the download, “preparing” the iPad, and other messages sufficient to reassure you that you were on your way.  A second tip –  try to avoid “syncing” unless you are sure that is what you want to do and/or double check what will be synced.   iTunes tends to take you down this syncing path and I think this would have been annoying on my old computer that had loads of music and pictures that could largely filled up the meager 16gb of my iPad.  From my prior experience with iTunes syncing, I have learned that you can’t (unless its changed), delete pictures or music that was added by syncing.   (You are better off dragging and dropping music & pictures in iTunes so that you can delete them from the device if you chose later on).

In hindsight, it occurred to me that perhaps I should have started this post with my initial Google query which was whether it was worthwhile to upgrade from an iPad 4 (or iPad Air) to an iPad Air 2.  For me, this was a “no brainer” as I’m somewhat of a bargain hunter and spotted a great deal on Craig’s list for an iPad Air 2 so I anticipate selling my iPad 4 for around the same as I spent for the iPad Air 2.  This aside, I would encourage anyone to consider the upgrade and by far my greatest reason would be for speed.  When I examined iPad 4 versus iPad Air 2, the thing that jumped out at me was the jump in RAM (memory) from 1gb to 2gb… this is huge and I will testify that the speed difference is noticeable and appreciated.  While I was fully satisfied with the performance of the iPad 4, the new iPad Air 2 seems much snappier to me.  Among the other differences is that the Air 2 is supposed to have some reflective coating that helps in bright sunlight.  I think there may be a little improvement, but this is hard for me to appreciate as I would tend to avoid using either in bright sunlight.  The size difference (Air 2 being a little smaller and lighter) wasn’t a big factor for me and in some ways I like the larger size of the older model… I know I’ll miss my old iPad case but I may embrace this lighter version over time.

I think this covers my most recent Apple adventures.  I anticipate that my next adventure will be to upgrade my iPhone 4S.

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