Apple: Updating iOS devices is painful and clumsy

When Apple added OTA (Over The Air) updating to iOS, it promised a simple, streamlined update experience. So why have I just spent the best part of an hour deleting apps and files to make room for iOS 8?

iOS 8
Image: Apple

Apple likes to make things as simple as possible, and one of the great features built into iOS is OTA (Over The Air) updating that allows me to download new operating system updates direct to my iPhone and iPad. But what was once a simple and streamlined process now feels clumsy and awkward.

Why is it awkward? I'll tell you why. Because iOS updates need a colossal amount of free storage space before you can install them. Depending on your hardware, you'll need between 4.7GB and 6.9GB of free storage space, and that's a massive amount of space, especially for devices that started out with only 16GB of space in the beginning (minus what iOS takes when installed).

Not only that, but iOS updates are getting bigger with each major release since OTA updating was introduced in iOS 5.

In order to get the requisite amount of free space, I've spent almost an hour deleting apps and files off my iPhone and iPad, and I'm going to have to spend more time downloading and reconfiguring the apps again.

Why do I have to do this? After all, I have iCloud storage, which means I have a full backup of my device stored safely in Apple's servers. Why can't the update check to make sure that my backup is up to date, free up space for the update and then download whatever needed to be deleted at the end of the update process? Why to I have to do this pruning process manually? Seems like a recipe for lost data to me.

Even if I didn't have any iCloud storage available, why can't the update free space up by deleting apps and then redownloading them for me at the end? Or just tell me to make an iTunes backup? Or, basically anything that doesn't mean that I have to juggle my data?

Bottom line is that any system that doesn't involve me having to manually delete random stuff off my iPhone or iPad in order to free up space is better than the current mechanism. The current update mechanism is painful and clumsy, and those are two words I would have thought Apple would be keen to avoid.

And yes, I know I could use iTunes on a PC or Mac to back up my iDevices, but with a true post-PC device I shouldn't have to do that. And anyway, I know plenty of people who don't use iTunes, or who don't have a PC or Mac. Going the iTunes route is just a cop-out, a way to dodge a pretty obvious flaw with the update mechanism.

Come on Apple, you can make this process a lot less painful for your customers.

See also:

Newsletters

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
See All
See All