Is There Really a Serious Problem with iOS 8?

October 7th, 2014

Since iOS 8 doesn’t look altogether different from iOS 7, there’s the perception that there aren’t lots of changes. If you look at the bill of particulars though, it’s not a handful of refinements and some new apps. There are loads of significant changes that are more than skin deep. It’s also true that the controversial flat interface of the previous OS is somewhat tamed.

Although there were loads of protests about iOS 7, upgrade stats were off the charts. Before iOS 8 became available last month, some 91% of the iOS user base had upgraded to its predecessor. That’s a compelling achievement by any estimate. In contrast, getting a high single digit adoption rate for a new version of Google’s Android can take long months.

Still, iOS 8 adoption remains under 50%, noticeably less than iOS 7 at this early stage. Even though the previous OS had a faster upgrade pace, it’s probably not a significant issue. Don’t forget that adoption of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus is reported to be way ahead of last year’s iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c; over 7% as of Monday.

True online metrics of this sort have margins for error, since they vary, sometimes substantially, from measurement firm to measurement firm. But trends tend to be consistent, and it’s clear that even if fewer older iPhones and iPads are moving to iOS 8, the number of new sales will soon make up for much of the difference.

I suppose Apple didn’t make the upgrade path so easy either. If you have a device with 16GB of RAM (don’t even think of those 8GB models), you’ll want to do the update via iTunes, since there won’t be much free space available on the unit itself to install the 1.1GB upgrade file.

But it’s no doubt true that Apple can’t make magic, regardless of what you think, and the installation requirements are what they are. If you want to update to iOS 8 on a storage starved iPhone or iPad, except trouble if you’re not using iTunes.

Ture to form, the Apple hate mongers are in full force. Apple’s very serious misstep with the iOS 8.0.1 update is mentioned time and time again. One blogger for a major tech site claimed it had more bugs than iOS 8, which is decidedly not true. A certain consumer test publication insisted that Apple took hours to withdraw the update when troubles were discovered, which is also decidedly not true.

In the real world, as opposed to the alternate Bizarro world in which some tech pundits live, iOS 8.0.1 fixed several problems and added two to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. They were serious, though. The connection to a cellular network was broken, and Touch ID stopped working. It worked fine on other iPhones. What’s more, Apple became aware of the problem quickly enough to pull the update in a little over an hour. Some 40,000 units were impacted by the flaws, and Apple posted instructions online on how to get them up and running by downgrading to iOS 8.

It was a serious mistake, and the person or persons who made the decision to release 8.0.1 ought to face the music. It was a decidedly dumb move regardless of the excuses one might make for it. One report suggested the group handling the update didn’t have proper access to an iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus due to Apple’s extreme secrecy policies. But that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Just as likely, a last-minute change before release created unforeseen problems; regardless the testing process clearly failed.

The very next day, the 8.0.2 update fixed the problem. It doesn’t mean that things were perfect. There are still reports of early release bugs with the various versions of iOS 8, and you expect Apple will fix the worst of them soon. An 8.1 update is expected to launch Apple Pay and perhaps a new iPad lineup, and that might come as early as next week, when another Apple media event may happen.

I think some of the people who are complaining a lot about iOS 8 issues forget the shaky rollout of iOS 7. All the zooming and parallax view special effects made some people dizzy until Apple devised better ways to slow or halt the excesses. To some, the thin lettering of interface elements were too thin, although it was possible to switch to a bolder typeface.

For iOS 8, Apple has enhanced the ability to alter system font sizes and apps that support ‘Dynamic Type,” and make the text bold. The interface seems a tad smoothed out, so whatever ragged edges remain probably aren’t as significant as those that showed up in the first versions of iOS 7. But it’s possible the problems with the previous release may have made some of you think twice about an OS upgrade so early in the game. Maybe you want to wait for things to settle down a bit longer before you take the plunge.

By next year, when iOS 9 arrives, the user base for iOS 8 will still probably exceed 75-80%, which is still a pretty high number in the scheme of things. And Google? Don’t ask!

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9 Responses to “Is There Really a Serious Problem with iOS 8?”

  1. David says:

    A high percentage of iOS devices have only 8GB or 16GB of storage. My iPhone 5 reports a capacity of just 12.7GB. That’s far less than the 16GB marketing number. I can only imagine how tight things must be on a device purported to have 8GB. Thus a huge number of people simply cannot upgrade without iTunes.

    For years now smartphones have been stand-alone devices so there must be people who don’t even know they can be plugged into a computer. And aren’t we in a post-PC era in which smartphones and tablets are the only computer some people own? How do you upgrade if you don’t own a computer or don’t know one can be used to do the upgrade?

    Next problem with the comparison to iOS 7 – Asia. The iPhone 6 still isn’t available in China and some other large markets. Last year the new phone was already on sale there so adoption rates are currently being held back relative to 2013.

    Which brings us to iOS 7 itself. I think the major UI changes and poor performance on older devices spooked a lot of people used to routinely upgrading because Apple said so. Add the widely reported problems with iOS 8, 8.0.1 and even some lingering issues with 8.0.2 and people are just plain scared of what might happen if they hit the upgrade button.

  2. DaveD says:

    David put forth many good points.

    In my situation, downloaded iOS 8 (twice, initial version and 8.0.2) via iTunes. No iPhone just an iPad and had decided to wait for OS X Yosemite before installing to use iCloud Drive. Knowing what’s coming, I’ll wait for iOS 8.1 and OS X Yosemite.

  3. Dave T says:

    I upgraded my iPhone 5s and 5th generation iPod touch to 8.0.2 with no problems. But, I have an iPad 3 that I have not upgraded due to the problems I’ve read about on the iPad 2.

    Gene, does your wife still have her iPad 3? If so, have you upgraded it, and if you did, have there been any problems?

  4. dfs says:

    I upgraded to 8.0, no problems. 8.01 was released and taken down before I had a chance to upgrade, and since then I’ve upgraded to 8.02, no problems. Nevertheless, all the hassles I’ve read about will probably prevent me from upgrading from Maverick to Yosemite for a few days, after I’ve had a chance to see the fallout. One would think that Apples developer release program would have done a better job of flushing out all the significant problems.

  5. Noibs says:

    I read last week that iOS 8.1 was going to be released during October. There’s no reason not to wait for that. There’s still a pretty big Bluetooth connection problem with cars that’s still present in 8.0.2. The fix is to delete all network settings and delete car and iphone pairings. I would rather wait.

    • @Noibs, No problem here at all. I’ve tried two different iPhones running an iOS 8.x.x release and had no problem pairing with my Kia or sustaining a phone call. As with other issues of this sort, your mileage (forgive the pun) may vary.


  6. Peter says:

    Here are two principles I’ve learned about upgrades. Unfortunately, I’ve learned them the hard way:
    1. Wait till .2.1
    2. If you’re really desperate for a feature, you can take a risk on .1.2

    Those who adopt earlier usually fall into one of the following categories:
    1. They want to review it.
    2. They don’t need the gadget for work, so they want to play with it.
    3. They don’t understand the risk.
    4. They’re foolish.

    8.01 proves my point.

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