Get ready to provide iOS 7 support

iOS 7 is coming, and if you are the sort of person who friends and family turn to for support, or support is your job, then you need to get ready.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

iOS 7 is coming, and that's caused me to raise my support DEFCON level up a couple of notches. If you have to support iOS-powered devices – either at work or at home – I recommend you get prepared too.

iOS 7

There are quite a number of iPhones and iPads that fall inside my circle of influence. Some of these devices are owned by family members and friends, some are part of my daily work machine, and others belong to clients. As a rule iOS devices are pretty well behaved devices, causing me very little grief in the overall scheme of things, but with the release of iOS 7 scheduled for September 18, I'm already bracing myself for an increase in support calls.

iOS 7 represents the first major change in the iPhone operating system since it was released June of 2007. Over that time Apple has upgraded the platform significantly, adding countless new features, but this is the first time in over six years that Apple has made significant changes to the iOS user interface. And in my experience, people get a little freaked out by significant changes. Don't believe me? Think of the millions of people who bought a PC with Windows XP on it and thought that was the first and last operating system that they needed to get learn.

See also7 things I wish iOS 7 could do

Whenever I raise the idea that people don't like change, and resist having to change their way of working, someone will always point out that all users have, at one point, been happy to learn how to use an operating system, and that learning their way around a new operating system is the same.

My counter to this is that people generally don't mind learning new things, but they find the idea of having to relearn something tedious and hard.

For example, my 80-plus mother-in-law has an iPad. She figured it out pretty quickly, and can shop, browse the web, and keep in touch with people using it. It took her a few weeks to figure things out but now she can navigate around the system with relative ease. But what's going to happen later this week when that notification to update pops up on the screen?

Laying down muscle memory is one thing; changing old muscle memory to accommodate change is another.

So, what are the ways that iOS 7 could trip up users?

Bricking devices

Any time you upgrade the software on a device, there's a small chance that it won't survive the procedure. I've had this happen once and had to have the iPhone replaced under warranty. However, thanks to Apple, I had a new iPhone in my hand the next morning. But if I'd not been covered by warranty, this would have been expensive an expensive upgrade.

Bricked devices are rare though, and it's not really a good reason to avoid upgrading.

New, uncharted interface

I see this as being the biggest stumbling block. Familiar icons are now unfamiliar, there are new user interface elements, and a lot of the furniture have been moved about.

A once familiar place is unfamiliar.

The only way to get over this is time. I recommend that if you are an iOS user and people turn to you for help – the typical Hardware 2.0 reader – then I suggest you put the effort in to finding your way around the system.

No going back from iOS 7

Once you click OK on that update, know that there's no going back. If you know people who might be especially vulnerable to problems following an upgrade to iOS 7 then it might be a good idea to let them know that iOS 7 is on the way, and to remind the that it's OK to put off the update for a while if they're not ready for it just yet.

Battery life drop

People always complain about this following an iOS update, and most of the time the drop is as a result of iOS recalibrating the battery charging/discharging circuit.

A few recharge/discharge cycles usually cures this problem. If not, and the problem is down to the iOS release, then it's a case of waiting for Apple to come out with an update.

Icons all a-changing

A redesigned iOS means that developers are creating new icons for old apps. Since most users seem to identify apps from the icon and not the text. This is a common problem not confined to iOS.

Best advice here is to teach people to organize their apps, and teach them to search for those they can't find.

New themes 

There seems to be an unwritten rule that a good proportion of users dislike the themes that ship with operating systems updates. The familiar has been replaced with the unfamiliar, and it takes time to get used to the changes.

Nothing much to do here than pick a background image that you like and move on.

Editorial standards