Get ready to provide iOS 8 support

iOS 8 is coming, and if you are the sort of person friends and family turn to for support, or support is your job, then you need to get ready.

iOS 8 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.

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 8 scheduled to hit the Apple update servers any day now, I'm already bracing myself for an increase in support calls.

iOS 8 represents a significant revamping of the iOS platform. While iOS 7 made some sweeping changes, iOS 8 will build on this, and add a whole raft of new features, from HealthKit to the ability to pair iPhones and iPads with Macs.

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'd ever need, and clung onto it for dear life.

Whenever I raise the idea that people don't like change, and the lengths some will go to in order to 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.

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.

Take, for example, my 80-plus mother-in-law who 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 initially, and then a while more to come to grips with iOS 7, but now she can navigate around the system with relative ease. But what's going to happen when iOS 8 hits and there are a whole bunch of new features to come to grips with?

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

So, what are the ways that iOS 8 could trip up users?

Bricked devices

Any time you upgrade the software on a device, there's a small chance that the device 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 an expensive upgrade.

Bricked devices are rare though, and it's not really a good reason to avoid upgrading. But it happens often enough that I make sure I have a backup of my device close to hand, just in case.

New keyboard

One of the most obvious changes to come to iOS 8 is the new keyboard. Not only has Apple added predictive text to the built-in keyboard, but iOS 8 will also allow users to download and install third-party keyboard apps.

No going back from iOS 8

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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 8 then it might be a good idea to let them know that an update is on the way, and to remind them 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 a drop on the battery life 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. Also, it might be a good idea to update all apps, and install any new updates that show up promptly, as app bugs can also drain the battery.

If none of that works, then it's a case of waiting for Apple to come out with an update, which, if past experience is anything to go buy, will take about a month or so.

Retweaked user interface

While iOS 8 builds on iOS 7, there are enough changes made to make the new release feel different from the old one.

New functionality has been added to apps, UI elements have been retooled and icons and so forth given a new lick of paint.

If your job or position in your family means that you're the person that people come to for help and advice, I recommend that you work your way through the iOS 8 interface in order to familiarize yourself with the changes.

Updated apps

App developers take the opportunity offered by major iOS updates to update and rework their apps. This means that along with having to navigate a new operating system, apps — sometimes even their icons and names — also change, creating even more confusion for users. 

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