Welcome to the Weekly iOS Update

September 30th, 2015

I am writing this post only a few hours after installing the iOS 9.0.2 update on my iPhones and Barbara’s iPad. Nothing untoward has occurred so far. For some it ends there after you undergo a roughly 15 or 30 minute download and installation process.

Last week’s iOS 9.0.1 update had a handful of fixes that included a “slide to unlock” bug that froze the upgrade process. You couldn’t get past it to finish setting up iOS 9, and you actually had to restore your gadget to get it running again.

But I’m not at all sure how widespread the problem turned out to be. It didn’t get near the bad publicity of last year’s iOS 8.0.1 update the essentially bricked about 40,000 new iPhones. That update was pulled within an hour, and a fixed 8.0.2 arrived the very next day. The affected phones could restored without difficulty. But Apple never lived it down, and some pundits want to pretend it was far worse than it seemed.

At least saner minds prevailed this time.

With 9.0.2 arrived a handful of new fixes. They included:

  • Fixes an issue with the setting to turn on or off app cellular data usage
  • Resolves an issue that prevented iMessage activation for some users
  • Resolves an issue where an iCloud backup could be interrupted after starting a manual backup
  • Fixes an issue where the screen could incorrectly rotate when receiving notifications
  • Improves the stability of Podcasts

There are evidently some security fixes as well, and the key issue is this one:

Lock Screen

Available for: iPhone 4s and later, iPod touch (5th generation) and later, iPad 2 and laterImpact: A person with physical access to an iOS device may be able to access photos and contacts from the lock screen

Description: A lock screen issue allowed access to photos and contacts on a locked device. This issue was addressed by restricting options offered on a locked device.



That does sound serious. In addition, some times are no doubt going unmentioned, and that’s nothing at all new for Apple. With the previous release, I noticed that one app that constantly crashed no longer crashed. I retested that app and a few others, just to be sure nothing has gone astray. So far I see no evidence of anything untoward.

But I do wish Apple would be more revealing about such matters. There are always more bugs than are revealed in these release notes, and you have to keep your fingers crossed that the ones you know about have been fixed.

While I can see where Apple might want to simplify release notes for regular users, what about developers who might need to know all the details to make sure there are no problems with their apps, or at least that those problems are being considered? There are too many things that remain uncertain in the way Apple delivers information about software updates, and I do wish they’d be more forthcoming. At least the updates are coming fast, and perhaps things will stabilize now ahead of the release of iOS 9.1, which has already entered the beta three stage according to published reports.

But since the most important feature of 9.1 appears to be more Emoji options, I haven’t bothered. That’s really not on my radar. According to published reports, that update may be designed mainly to support the iPad Pro, which means it won’t arrive until November. If I hear of any other important changes, I might try out the beta, but not yet.

Regardless, it does appear that the adoption rate for iOS 9 is off the charts. Two weeks after release, Mixpanel Trends is showing that over 54% of iOS users are running it. Apple’s stats, showing a 52% adoption rate, goes back to September 19th, and that is mighty peculiar. You’d think it would have been updated by now, unless that original number represented some sort of anomaly, and it eventually settled down to a lower number. But I’m not going to suggest a conspiracy theory, since the number might be updated at any time. It’s just that Apple’s OS migration stats tend to lag behind third parties.

That’s what happened with iOS 8, and while it ended up with an adoption rate of over 85%, better than I expected, it was still perceived as far less popular than iOS 7. Don’t forget the early problems with upgrades, because the installation required more space that was available on many iPhones and iPads. Apple has addressed that with iOS 9, where the upgrade requires less than one-third the space for installation. And if you still don’t have enough space, the installer will offer to temporarily remove some apps and, when the installation is over, it will restore them and the data associated with those apps. That’s as seamless as it gets.

One key issue that’s still present involves App Thinning, an iOS 9 feature that with the potential to really save space on your gear. The Slicing feature will restrict the apps you install to the versions that work on your device rather than the full contents of a universal app. But Apple pulled the feature because of an iCloud issue, although this week’s Xcode fix may, in part, have addressed that problem. We’ll have to see.

The next adoption rate of significance will be OS X El Capitan. It arrived on schedule on September 30, and there are already reports that the first maintenance update, 10.11.1, is being tested by developers and those who signed up with Apple’s public beta program. I haven’t seen a list of fixes or changes yet.

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