Upgrading to iOS 5: what worked and what didn't

17 Oct 2011

Here at PC Pro, we try and do things so that you don’t have to. That’s why we’ve spent a good part of the weekend installing iOS on as many different Apple devices as we could lay our hands on. Although judging by the comments on our Twitter feed and earlier story about iOS 5 problems, many of you haven’t hung around to find out how we got on…

Our experience should help guide people who have yet to click the magic button in iTunes. And even if you’ve already downloaded iOS 5 onto your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, some of the problems and workarounds we’ve discovered will still be of interest.

Here’s what we’ve found:

INSTALLATION TIMES AND ISSUES

David Bayon’s iPhone 4 - David Bayon’s iPhone 4 was the first to get the iOS 5 treatment on the night of release. The download was quick, the upgrade process itself worked first time and the phone was up and running in iOS 5 in little more than an hour. However, as he was switching to a new Mac, he expectedly lost all of his music and apps – or almost all of them. For some reason the upgrader decided to keep 35 seemingly randomly selected apps on the phone; the rest had to be re-downloaded. That process added an extra hour to the total upgrade time, and that’s without restoring the music collection

The office iPad 2 – The office iPad 2 was upgraded on Friday morning, once the crush of Thursday night’s launch had died down a little. The whole update process took a little over an hour, and (despite a barrage of error messages) worked flawlessly. However, it should be noted that we changed the PC that the iPad was synched with shortly before the upgrade, and despite iTunes assuring us that a full backup had been taken, all of our apps and settings were lost during the upgrade.

Barry Collins’ iPad 2 – Our second attempt at installing iOS 5 was on Barry’s personal iPad 2. The whole process took just over two hours, more than double the time it took on the office iPad. This is partly due to an enforced iTunes upgrade, partly due to the use of a slower home broadband connection, and largely because the iOS 5 download stalled three quarters of the way through on the first attempt, forcing us to start from scratch. Someone at Apple should be fired for not including a decent download manager in iTunes. However, the whole process went smoothly and every single one of the dozen or so apps was restored with their data intact.

Barry Collins’ iPhone 3GS – The iPhone 3GS is the oldest iPhone hardware supported by iOS 5, and given that iOS 4 had certainly handicapped the performance of the 3GS, we weren’t overly optimistic about this. As with the iPad 2, the whole process took about two hours and the entire OS had to be downloaded afresh, as there are obvious differences between the tablet and smartphone OS. The upgrade went relatively smoothly, but although iTunes claimed it had restored all of the 82 apps on the 3GS, 30 or so were not reinstalled. That meant we had to manually re-download a number of apps, and lost all the settings and data (see problem apps below). However, the iPhone 3GS was definitely running much more smoothly after the iOS 5 upgrade, with none of the stutter that used to occur on the lock screen or when swishing between home screens. Battery life, however, is another issue, as you’ll see below…

PROBLEM APPS

Although the base OS largely appears to be working fine on all our devices (see battery issues below), there are a few apps that seem to be struggling with iOS 5.

The Facebook app – which was only recently updated – appears to be extremely slow and crash-prone on smartphones, with many people reporting that the app frequently crashes whenever you attempt to do post a comment or photo or during other basic task.

The excellent TomTom app was booted off Barry’s iPhone 3GS during the update to iOS 5. Although the app itself works fine when reinstalled, users are unable to restore paid-for services such as HD Traffic updates, which are critical to many users. Many people are reporting the issue on TomTom’s forums, and the company claims a fix is on the way, although it really should have dealt with the issue during the extended beta period – during which many people reported the problem.

Google Voice, which isn’t available in the UK anyway, has reportedly been pulled from the App Store because of crashes.

BATTERY DRAIN ISSUES

The most worrying issue with iOS 5 are the reports of rapid battery drain. Indeed, Barry’s iPhone 3GS went from 60% charged to empty in less than three hours yesterday, with the phone getting unusually warm in the process. Many other users are reporting similar issues on Twitter and tech forums, and it’s not confined to the ageing 3GS: owners of iPhone 4 and even the new 4S have reported poor battery life, not to mention iPad users.

It’s not clear what’s causing the batteries to deplete so quickly. The OS X Daily website has a list of the chief suspects, including Bluetooth, faulty location services and the new notifications menu.

On Barry’s iPhone 3GS, a faulty calendar entry had lodged itself in the new notifications centre,  which refused to shut and caused the notifications screen to flicker rapidly. Once calendar notifications had been switched off, the battery drain appeared to return to normal, but we can’t say for certain if this was the culprit.

Others have suggested that Apple’s new Find Friends app could be the guilty party, with frequent requests from friends to verify your location causing the power-sapping GPS chip to kick-in frequently.

We’ve only seen this problem on one of our four devices we’ve upgraded to iOS 5, but it’s certainly one that Apple must quickly get to grips with.

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