With the release of iOS 5 just hours away, there’s plenty to think about before upgrading to the newest version of Apple’s mobile device operating system. We’ve put together this guide to help you decide when to upgrade, and what you need to do to be prepared when the time comes.
Deciding whether or not to upgrade right away is a no-brainer for some, but for others it may not be a clear cut choice. Either way, planning ahead will help cut down on surprises and headaches when you make the jump to iOS 5.
iOS 5 is loaded with new features
Should You Upgrade?
Even if you don’t upgrade to iOS 5 right away, you’ll still want to consider making the move soon — assuming you have compatible device. Currently, iOS 5 is compatible with the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, third and fourth generation and iPod touch, and the iPad and iPad 2.
This isn’t the first time Apple has dropped support for earlier iPhone models with an iOS upgrade. The first generation iPhone was left behind with the release of iOS 4, and now the iPhone 3 has been left out of the upgrade game, too.
Just as it did with iOS 4, Apple isn’t charging users for the upgrade to iOS 5.
Here’s some of what you can expect to see once you upgrade to iOS 5:
- Notification Center
- System-wide single sign-on for Twitter
- Reader support for Mobile Safari
- Support for taking photos from the lock screen
- Over-the-air software updates
Despite all the new features iOS 5 offers, along with the extensive beta testing it has undergone, it’s probably not a bad idea to wait at least a day or two for all the edge-case problem reports to come in before upgrading. Of course, we’ll be watching close for issues that may have slipped through the beta testing process.
Update Your Apps First
Before upgrading to iOS 5, make sure you have already updated to iTunes 10.5 on your Mac or PC. Mac users can go to
Apple menu > Software Update, and Windows users can choose
Help > Software Update to make sure the most recent version of iTunes is installed.
Next, pay a visit the App Store in both iTunes and on your iPhone and make sure you have the latest versions of all your apps. Most iPhone and iPad apps should run just fine in iOS 5, but developers have been hard at work adding support for the new features Apple rolled into the OS update.
If you aren’t sure how to update apps on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, check out our Quick Tip to help you through the process.
Check for iOS Compatibility Issues
We suggest making a point of checking developers’ Web sites for any mission-critical apps you run to make sure they aren’t warning about any show stopping compatibility issues. If you find any issues with apps you simply can’t live without, we recommend delaying your iOS 5 upgrade until the developers release compatibility updates.
Backup, then Backup Again
Upgrading to iOS 5, or any iPhone OS for that matter, will wipe out your phone and then restore it. Just like the data on your computer, the information on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch could be forever lost if it isn’t backed up. iTunes backs up your handheld’s data every time you sync with your Mac or PC, so you should already have a copy of all your important information safely tucked away.
If you aren’t sure if your iOS device has been backed up recently, just launch iTunes on your computer and connect your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad via its dock cable. iTunes will automatically perform a backup for you.
You can make doubly sure your iPhone data is protected by backing up your backup. If you already have a strong backup process in place, odds are your iPhone and iPod touch backups are included. If not, or if you aren’t sure if your handheld data is included in your computer backup, check out our Quick Tip on backing up your iPhone’s data.
Save Your Settings
While the upgrade to iOS 5 shouldn’t wipe out any of your settings, it’s still a good idea to go into the Settings app and note anything you might not otherwise remember if things go south. An easy way to make sure you have an accurate record of all your settings is to use the screen capture feature to take snapshot pictures of your iPhone and iPod touch settings. We have a Quick Tip that details how to take iPhone screenshots and what to do once you have those pictures.
Once you have those screenshots, make sure they end up somewhere you can find them should you be one of the unfortunate few that loses all your data. You can email the pics, or sync with your Mac to automatically add them to iPhoto.
Copy Your Data Back
After you upgrade to iOS 5 there’s a chance that some of the applications, music, or videos that you expect to see won’t be there if, at some point, you told iTunes to stop syncing and disabled its warnings. Re-enabling warnings in iTunes gives you the opportunity to transfer apps and media back from your iPhone that otherwise might get missed.
Resetting Warnings in iTunes
To re-enable warnings for your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, connect your handheld to your computer,
Right-click on your device in the Library list, and then choose Reset Warnings from the pop-up menu. We have a Quick Tip that details the process, too. Once you’ve reset the warnings, perform another sync and iTunes will obediently display any warning dialogs that were previously hidden.
Upgrading to iOS 5, Finally
Now that you’ve covered as many of your bases as is reasonable (and perhaps unreasonable but, hey, we’re playing it safe!), go ahead and tell iTunes to install the iOS 5 on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.
The OS download and update process will take some time. The updater files clock in at about 800MB, so make sure you’ve got plenty of bandwidth (and battery power, if on a laptop) to get the job done.
Once the update is complete, go through your iPhone and make sure your settings are correct. We suggest checking your Mail and MobileMe/iCloud settings right away just in case any settings look out of place. If you have more than one Apple ID, you’ll need to also check the iTunes and App Store apps, along with Messages and Game Center to make sure the right account is linked to each app.
To check your Mail and Calendar, iCloud and Messages settings, launch Settings then scroll down to each app. For iTunes and App Store, launch each app, then scroll down to access your account information. Game Center should display your account info when you first launch the app.
Reports from developers installing the final version of iOS 5 seem to indicate the upgrade is fairly bug-free and upgrades are going smoothly. We do recommend you wait to do anything in iTunes until after your iPhone’s display shows that it has completed an upgrade and the initial Sync just to be safe.
Once you’ve upgraded your iOS device will, in theory, be fully functional, and all of the data that was there before the upgrade will still be in place. In fact, you’ll likely even find that all the web pages you had open in Mobile Safari are still there.
That said, we’ve seen a few isolated situations where data goes missing. The Ikea app, for example, required us to re-download the catalog file during our upgrade tests.
Because the upgrade completely replaces the firmware on your iPhone, the first post-upgrade Sync will trigger a backup that will take a long time. Depending on how much data is stored on your device, the backup process could take 15 minutes or longer.
Since you’re already in down time-mode because of the upgrade process, this is a good time to go ahead and let that first backup happen incase something goes wrong later. Simply plug your iPhone back into your computer, let iTunes do its thing, and then you’re off and running.
The Quick Upgrade
After detailing how to make sure nearly every base is covered before you upgrade, we have to add that plenty of users will upgrade without checking their backups or app compatibility without any problems. If you plan on jumping in and hitting the ground running, iTunes will do its best to make sure you have something to fall back on should the upgrade process go wrong since it forces a data backup before running the iOS 5 installer.
Dive In and Let US Know What You Think
After you finish the upgrade process it’s time to start playing with the new features in iOS 5, then come back and tell us and the rest of your fellow TMO Observers about it all in the article comments.