iOS 6: A Considered Guide

Apple dropped iOS 6 on Wednesday, September 19, 2012. After a few days of use I can safely say it…

Aeryk Pierson

Contributor

Apple dropped iOS 6 on Wednesday, September 19, 2012. After a few days of use I can safely say it is adequate. The honeymoon has worn off. The ennui is in full force. It is an unfair apathy which has taken hold, but time and advertisers adjectives are to blame.

On the whole iOS 6 has surface sore points, but is worth your while if your device is compatible.

Upgrading

If you have waited to update to iOS 6, good for you. By delaying the gratification hopefully I can save you some headaches.

First, you will need to consider which of two avenues to use: over the air or by connecting to iTunes. Over the air is convenient, in that you don’t need anything other than the device and a WiFi connection. Simply navigate to Settings -> General -> Software Update. Problem is, it takes a very long time. If you connect your iDevice to iTunes the upgrade is much faster, though still lengthy (~1.5 hours plus, your milage will vary based on your connection speed), but you need your iDevice and a computer and your internet connection.

Next, there are two paths to upgrade: one, just update your iDevice (iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch) or two, restore and update. If you opt to simply update to iOS 6, the software will install over your current iOS, leaving your apps and data intact. If you choose to restore and update, the software will erase your phone, install iOS 6 and then restore your apps and data.

I normally just update my devices (as I am writing this an iPhone 4 and iPad 2). This time I decided to restore and update (more later). I have heard horror stories of updates over the air taking days to finish, so I oped to update via iTunes.

iOS 6 and Your Legacy Device

It is obscene to think something a couple years old is legacy, but that is the world we live in now. In this case, a legacy device is an iPad 2, iPhone 4S, iPhone 4 or iPhone 3S, iPod Touch 4th gen.

The original iPad, iPhone 3 and previous and iPod Touch 3rd gen and previous are not supported, so if that is you, sorry.

Apple claims that iOS 6 will run on the iPhone 3GS. I’m skeptical of this claim. I do not know anyone who has tried so I cannot speak with any authority. If you have, let our readers know in the comments section how well it works.

I do have first hand experience with installing iOS 6 on the iPhone 4.

Two days after the announcement of the iPhone 5 my iPhone started to act contrary. I vaguely remember something similar happening to my iPhone 3 when they announced the iPhone 4. I initially attributed this to planned obsolescence. No, more than that. I went full-on conspiracy theory. Apple had flipped “the switch” causing all iPhone 4 owners to start experiencing performance issues in order to sell the new iPhone with go faster beveled edges.

In an effort to catch those sneaky bastards, when it came time to install iOS 6 I decided to perform a restore and update. I reasoned if I start with a fresh iPhone 4 and it runs like crap I would have proof that they were screwing us over.

Time spend downloading the update aside, the restore and update was a snap. Within about an hour and a half I had my phone back up and running with iOS 6. And, it’s been purring like the preverbal kitty.

I’ve not completely let go of my conspiracy, but I have to admit doubt about its validity.

iOS 6 Restore and Update Hitch

When you restore and update you are prompted with pop up boxes warning you doing so will erase everything on the iDevice. Are you sure you want to do this? And, would you like to backup the iDevice?

The last question is where the hick-up happened.

You might not experience this problem. In hindsight, I know that it happened because I have more than one computer. I have an iMac at home that is the depository for all of my digital stuff. My work horse machine is my MacBook Air. So when I went to update the OS on my iPhone and iPad I was doing so through my MacBook Air.

As I’ve written, everything went swimmingly, aside from the download time. I’m not really in any position to be pissy about how long the download took. I started the process the instant the upgrade was available with 50 bazillion others. The problem happened when my iPhone came back online. I only had the handful of apps that come installed from scratch.

I was ignorant in my understanding of what happens when you “backup” your device. I was mistaken in thinking that apps are backed up. They are NOT. What is backed up is the apps’ data. If you have the apps in iTunes then they will be restored. If not, only the apps’ data is restored.

I figured this out in two steps. First, when I looked at the iPhone and iPad in iTunes the graph which represents the space used, and by what, showed a large yellow section, roughly 2GB, of “other” stuff. When I downloaded one of the missing apps from the App Store, Plants vs. Zombies, a game I had advanced quite far into, all of my progress was still there.

Thank Christ!

Granted, what was of vital importance on my iPhone and iPad were documents, and those were all saved in either Dropbox or iCloud. It would not have been the end of the world. My PvZ Zen Garden is pretty sweet, and rebuilding it would have taken too much work.

Now, let’s look at iOS 6. Because I have an iPhone 4, not all of the features are available to me. I do have access to an iPhone 4s, so I will test out features on it. For now, I can only discuss what I’ve learned about the features available to all devices to which the update can be applied.

Look

The overall look has not changed much. The one noticeable change is a new app’s icon, a blue banner across the top right corner with “new” written on it. As soon as you use the app, the banner disappears. Neat, but nothing useful.