If you wanted to download iOS 8 for your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, Wednesday was messy. Real messy. Some of you may have waited hours to retrieve the 1.1GB file. In my case, on my first effort, for my iPhone 5s, it took several hours to grab that file on a 40 megabit broadband connection. The progress bar seemed to move at a snail’s pace when I attempted to perform the upgrade on the unit itself. An attempt to do the update on an iMac was no more effective.
I started at 10:30 AM Arizona time. The update wasn’t ready to install until after 3:00 PM, at which time I opted to perform a backup and do a restore to get the cleanest upgrade experience possible. Upgrading my wife’s iPad 3 took about two hours, and the effort to upgrade an Apple TV to the version 7, which sports an iOS-like flat interface, completed in three hours.
To avoid clogging the router, I performed each of these updates separately. Still, I’m a CenturyLink customer, and it’s possible they were throttling traffic from Apple’s side, though it was much faster by Wednesday evening. I’ve had problems of this sort with CenturyLink before, so I’m just saying.
If this slowdown persisted with other ISPs, that, in part, may be one reason why early estimates of the upgrade rate, based on online traffic, have fallen way below the heights achieved last year with iOS 7. One estimate put the adoption rate at less than 8% compared to 17% for iOS 7.
At the same time, there are widespread reports of higher-than-usual web traffic, so it would seem curious the adoption rate hasn’t yet hit the high marks, though it’s still early in the game.
Yet another obstacle: It appears that you need 4.6GB free space to install this update on an iPhone, so if you do it direct on a 16GB device, rather than using iTunes to retrieve the installation file, you might run into problems if free space is tight. Remember, the file has to be downloaded, extracted, installed and, in the end, the original is deleted.
Some are suggesting Apple needs to give up offering a 16GB iPhone or iPad, but it’s also true that the upgrade went just fine on my wife’s 16GB iPhone 5c. By evening, download speeds were many times faster.
Regardless, once you get through the standard setup questions, you may not see much has changed right away. But as you begin to use Mail, Safari and other Apple apps, you’ll see differences that are sometimes significant. If you look at Apple’s site, and all the articles written about iOS 8 posted online, you’ll discover a wealth of new features, far more than is the case for previous releases.
Still, you will no doubt read about the usual fear-mongering about Apple, this time that Apple “fanboys” aren’t rushing to adopt the new OS. We’ll see. Another explanation might be the fact that demand is so overwhelming for the new iPhones that lots of customers might just wait to experience iOS 8 on a new device. The same may be true for the iPad, although new models aren’t expected until late October — the rumors list Tuesday, October 21st as the ideal date for another Apple media event.
I did get a chance to try one of the new keyboards, SwiftKey, which is being offered free for now. The only downside I noticed is the offer to use Face-book or Google+ to back up your learning file. But that seems to defeat the purpose of the enhanced privacy offered by iOS 8. I opted not to accept this option.
You also have the choice of using either of two input schemes to type with SwiftKey. One is the standard method, and, as with the Apple’s QuickType keyboard, you’ll see suggestions in a banner above the keyboard. The other is to slide or swipe across the keyboard, which some prefer. But not me. The only annoyance is the fact that you have to activate the third-party keyboard in a per application basis, which is evidently designed to give you maximum flexibility. After installation, you switch keyboards via tapping and holding the globe icon to the left of the spacebar in any application. There you can make your selection.
For now I’ll leave it enabled in Mail, and see whether I adapt to it more quickly than Apple’s. At least there’s no cost in trying. Other keyboards, including a Swype keyboard, are usually $1.99, so it’s not a huge investment to test the waters. It’s interesting to note that keyboards are among the most popular titles in the early days of iOS 8.
But I still think most of you will stick with Apple’s keyboard and be totally satisfied.
In the meantime, I didn’t notice any difference in performance, although Touch ID seemed a tad quicker to activate on my iPhone 5s. I did experience one application crash, Mail, but otherwise everything seemed stable. Whatever worked with iOS 7.1.2 still worked. Unfortunately the GCN network streaming app, used to listen to my radio shows on an iPhone or iPad, is still broken.
But if you’ve held off upgrading, no harm in waiting a few more days for more app updates (they are coming thick and fierce) and perhaps an early fix for 8.0 release bugs.