The Washington Post

iOS 5: Should I upgrade?

Oct 13, 2011

What are the potential problems with the iPhone 4s and iOS 5? Why should you wait for an iPhone 5? Darrell Etherington from theAppleBlog chatted about whether or not you should upgrade your iPhone right now. Below are your questions and Darrell's answers.

User questions:
- Should iPad 1 users have any reservations in upgrading to iOS 5?
- Can I upgrade my iPhone 4 operating system to iOS5?
- Should I upgrade my old iPhone before the new one arrives?
- When does Apple predict these issues will be resolved?

Of particular concern, many Apple customers are not happy after having problems upgrading to the new version of the iPhone's mobile operating system, iOS 5, on Wednesday. In fact, Post tech reporter Hayley Tsukayama reported that so many people were having problems with the update that the upgrading error message, "error 3200," nabbed a spot as a worldwide trending topic on Twitter.

Related stories:
- iPhone iOS 5 upgrades: serious headaches
- iOS 5 goes live, servers creaking
- iPhone 4S review roundup
- What time will Apple release iOS 5?

Hi! I'm happy to be here today. Hopefully I can help everyone with their concerns about the iOS 5 update process. I'll do my best to answer any and all questions you might have about the upgrade process, iOS 5 and your iOS devices. Up first is a question many are probably asking themselves.

Before I upgrade, what do I do to avoid getting the error 3200, or is it just the luck of the draw?

Good question. The 3200 error appears to be related to Apple's server capacity. As of this morning, it seems to be less of an issue, but many are still encoutering it. The best course of action seems to be either to wait, or to repeat the update attempt until you successfully get through. If your need isn't urgent, I recommend waiting if you encounter Error 3200.

[From a Post staffer] Should people who have an iPad 1 have any reservations in upgrading to iOS 5? 

Owners of older devices have good reason to be wary of software updates; sometimes they can impede performance. Speaking from personal experience, however, I can say that the original iPad (2010 version) performs well with iOS 5.

You can see some benchmarks here that give you solid numbers about how the iPad responds to the update. Performance losses are minor, and Safari gains especially are high.

Note that some features, like Multi-touch gestures, are not available for the original iPad.

Commenter Gunga2009 in our comment section posted this:

I've got an iPhone 4; I will cheerfully wait AT LEAST a month before I upgrade to let the mourning Apple folks work out the (inevitable) bugs. When I had my 3G, I upgraded the OS once, and the phone was NEVER the same.

What do you think of this approach?

This is actually a theme I'm seeing in multiple questions, and for good reason.

If you don't absolutely need to upgrade, then waiting for a later version (i.e. 5.1 or 5.0.1) that fixes any remaining major bugs is always a good idea with any major software update.

Apple has an extensive beta process with a large tester pool (over 1 million registered developers), but problems still emerge. Waiting to update will also let you avoid the server crunch Apple is currently experiencing.

Can I delete photos from PhotoStream?

Unfortunately, not without completely disabling Photo Stream itself. I suspect Apple will address this in a later update, since many users are worried about the privacy issues related to the inability to delete photos.

Commenter 1995hoo posted these questions on today's iOS 5 news  story:  

The installation was generally painless except for one annoyance: It takes the apps off your device. It does warn you of this beforehand, but what's annoying is that it doesn't restore either the apps or the groups you created when it finishes the process. Instead you have to re-sync them yourself and then set up the groups the way you want them. ... Why doesn't it restore your apps and the way you arranged them? It seems like that would be a minor addition to the process. 


I also noted that the "Newsstand" icon cannot be thrown into a "Utilities" group. Why not? I don't use it and don't want it on the home screen. I guess I'm having my first experience with what people say about Apple wanting to control how you do things with their devices. They lose on that score: I took the icon and stuck it on a later home screen where it's out of my way.

The fact that the installation removes the apps from your device is one of the most common complaints I've seen about the update. As to why Apple did things this way, I'm not sure, but it may be that the underlying code is changed in such a way that app folders and organization couldn't be preserved. My only advice would be to re-organize apps in the way you want using iTunes, since it's faster than trying to recreate your folders and home screens on your device.

Newsstand is not really an app, per se, which is probably why it can't be nested in a folder. In fact, it is probably just a modified version of a folder itself. I agree that the inability to remove stock apps from your home screen entirely is an annoyance. Hopefully Apple eventually realizes this, too.

Will restoring the phone to original settings roll back the iOS to 4.3.5? Or will it restore it the data as it should be in iOS 5?

Restoring won't roll back to 4.3.5. Instead, it'll provide you with a fresh install of iOS 5, unless you restore from a backup, in which case it should restore your data and settings.

Note, though that some users are reporting issues where some information doesn't restore properly. If you're worried about your data, back it up independently of iTunes elsewhere. For example, exporting your Address Book data is a great idea.

When does Apple predict these issues will be resolved?

Apple hasn't issued any official word on iOS 5 upgrade problems. Independent reports coming in suggest that the situation is getting better, however.

I have a 3rd gen Ipod touch. Will I be able to upload all of the songs on my ipod to the cloud? What about the ones that were not purchased on Itunes?

Uploading songs to the cloud is not actually part of what was rolled out in the iOS 5 and iCloud releases yesterday.

Apple does now allow users to download past purchases of iTunes music by going to the iTunes app on your device, and navigating to the "Purchased" tab.

For music not purchased through iTunes, you'll have to wait until Apple introduces iTunes Match, which it says is arriving later in October. With iTunes Match, Apple will scan your entire music library (though it has to be on a computer running iTunes) and either match it with tracks on its servers or upload your own files.

My MacBook is too old to download Lion. Can I still use iCloud on my iPhone 4 and iPad 2?

Yes, you can still set up and use iCloud on both your iPhone and your iPad, independently of your Mac. Once you update to iOS 5, a welcome screen will guide you through the process, or you can go to Settings > iCloud to get started.

Data won't sync with your MacBook, but it will remain the same between your iOS devices.

My wife and I are sharing an iTunes ID on our iPhones, when we upgraded to ios5 our contacts where merged in to one. How can we separate them and avoid this happening again?

It sounds like you used your iTunes ID as your iCloud ID, so your phones have merged the data from both of your Address Book applications.

To keep your contact data separate, you should create a new Apple ID for each of you just for iCloud. You can still stay signed in to the Store on each device with your shared ID, but the iCloud-synced data (contacts, calendars, bookmarks, etc.) will remain separate.

Can you use Photostream to automatically post photos to sites like Flickr?

No. Photo Stream is designed for private sharing, not for integrating with outward-facing social services. It'll be interesting to see if Apple decides to open it up to sites like Flickr and Facebook down the road.

I pre-ordered a 4s which will arrive tomorrow. Is there any reason to think the roll-out won't be a disaster?

You can probably safely expect your iPhone 4S to arrive without issue. Apple is generally very good about anticipating when shipping hardware will arrive in customer hands. With software, its track record is a little more spotty.

Should I update my Ipod touch, is it possible yet since I see nothing anywhere that says I can?

It may not be possible, depending on what model iPod touch you have. Note that iOS 5 is only supported by late-model Apple hardware, including:

  • iPhone 3GS/4/4S
  • iPod touch 3rd (2009) and 4th (2010) generation
  • iPad and iPad 2

As to whether you should upgrade, as I mentioned above, it might be best to wait if you can live without the features for a while longer.

Hi. I am confused. I recently purchased an iPhone 4 (not a 4S). Are you saying I can upgrade my iPhone 4 operating system to iOS5? Can I do that? Should I? What are the benefits and drawbacks? How do I do it? Will I get Siri by doing so?

Yes, you can upgrade your iPhone 4's operating system. To do so, you need to plug your iPhone into your computer and click "Check for Updates" on the device's screen in iTunes.

Waiting until Apple has resolved its server issues and released a more stable version (iOS 5.0.1 in all likelihood) is probably a good idea, as I mentioned.

Benefits of updating to iOS 5 include getting access to new features like iMessage, Notifications and Newsstand, and also provides a number of other improvements.

Drawbacks include the kinds of update issues users are reporting, such as having to reinstall and reorganize apps.

You won't get Siri by updating to iOS 5; so far, it's an iPhone 4S exclusive feature.

My family and I shared/share an AppleID to help with not having to make multiple purchases of the same apps or music on each device to give some background. I tried to find out what I could before the launch of iOS 5 and iCloud so we knew if we could still do this or not. Well me being more of the Apple junkie, I downloaded and setup iCloud with our shared AppleID. I misread some information and told the others it would be ok if they did they same, so we could keep the same setup we had going, now we have the issue of all our stuff together. I know there is the 90 day waiting period to change AppleID's, but what is this best way to go about getting everyone setup with their own AppleID for iCloud and then using our family one for apps/music etc..? If they delete the iCloud account from their device will it delete any of my info? Sorry for it being so long, but thanks for any help!

This is the same problem we heard about ealier, but worth addressing again because you bring up new issues.

As to the 90 day waiting period for switching Apple IDs on iOS devices, that only prevents you from being able to download past purchases via iTunes in the Cloud. You can still switch IDs on your family's devices, with only that small inconvenience to deal with.

Then, as I said before, you can set up iCloud with one Apple ID (a new one for each family member), and log into the Store section of your device's Settings app with the shared account on each device.

Deleting the iCloud account from their devices should not affect your info, but you'll have to remove the data added from their devices manually.

I'm using calendar sync via Google. What's going to happen when I initiate iCloud sync? Should I disconnect Google sync first??? Also, can I select which photo events on my Mac and which playlists, podcasts, etc. I want to have in iCloud?

Google Sync and iCloud can co-exist on the same device. I use Google Sync for work, and iCloud for my personal calendars.

Photo Stream in iCloud will automatically sync all new photos you take on your device, or upload to your Mac if you have it configured to do so. There's no way to specific specific albums for it to sync.

As for music, when iTunes Match (which is a paid upgrade for iCloud) is introduced, it will make your entire iTunes library available to all your devices, and preserve any playlists you have on your Mac. iCloud currently does not sync playlists or podcasts, however.

I still have my iphone 3G from three years ago and it's been running slow in it's old age. I'm waiting for it to completly die before getting the newer version. Would iOS 5 be too much software for my old hardware? Or should it help things run more smoothly? Thanks!

Unfortunatlely, iOS 5 is not compatible with your device. You'll have to upgrade your hardware to at least a 3GS if you want to use iOS 5.

I've got a new 4s on its way. Should I upgrade my old iPhone before the new one arrives to make it easier to restore from the iTunes/iCloud backup?

I would wait and try to restore from a backup of your iPhone as it is. If that doesn't work, or doesn't work as desired, then you can try to update your old iPhone to iOS 5, back up, and restore your new iPhone 4S from that backup. In either case, make sure you have your important info backed up elsewhere, too.

Hi, thanks for answering my questions (confused). Reading "I upgraded before and my phone was never the same again," and "by upgrading, I lost all my apps and folders," and "error 3200" concern me. Should I really upgrade? Do I have to re-install all my apps? Or can I save them on iTunes on my computer? Do I have to pay for them again or does the app store know I bought them? Should I back up all my contacts on my computer? I dunno, upgrading seems like a bad idea. Thoughts?

Again, I strongly recommend waiting for a later update (5.0.1) if you're worried about the issues you mention. If, on the other hand, you have to have the update and won't be too put out if the worst case scenario comes to pass (start from scratch), then go for it.

You mill have to reinstall your apps, so make sure you sync and backup to iTunes first. As long as you have "Sync apps" checked, you should be able to at least get them back on your device all at once after upgrading.

Even if you do lose them all on your device, Apple will let you download them for free. Go to the App Store on your device, then to "Updates," then to "Purchased." You'll see a list of everything you've bought, and be able to reinstall them from there.

Backup your contacts on your computer to be safe.

My transition went smoothly on all my devices. The only problem I am having is that I cannot log in my iCloud account (formerly a MobileMe account) on on my Mac. I haven't seen any word about what may be causing this, or when it might be resolved. Any insight?

That's a problem many have been experiencing throughout the day. I'm having trouble with it, too, and it's affecting the web-based mail client as well.

Unfortunately, I can't offer advice much in this case. Waiting it out is likely your only option, and Apple hasn't made any official statement about the problem.

Perhaps only my impression, but Apple seems to be operating somewhat haphazardly this past year: 2 significant/confusing OSX upgrades close together, a somewhat improved iPad, and now a marginal iPhone 4s & iOS5. Nothing really compelling, except for people who have to have newest of the new. Your thoughts?

Thanks, this is a great one to go out on!

As someone who has been watching Apple professionally for three years now, and personally for a lot longer than that, I think that this year has actually been marked more by a significant shift in direction for Apple.

The introduction of iCloud, with its PC free features for Apple mobile devices, marks a turning point fo rthe company and for computing in general. Since it's such a big play, it's not suprising that it isn't necessarily going all that smoothly.

iCloud aside, Apple also introduced lots of exciting new hardware this year; the new MacBook Air really builds on the solid foundation of last year's model, and I think the addition of Thunderbolt across the Mac line will really make its effects felt later on.

If Apple looks to be operating haphazardly, it's probably because they have so much going on and are growing at a rapid pace. With the benefit of hindsight, too, I think things will appear less chaotic than they do right now.

Thanks very much to the Washington Post for having me, and to the readers for all the great questions and comments.


In This Chat
Darrell Etherington
Darrell is a professional blogger, writer and editor, with an M.A. in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Windsor. He has covered Apple and remote work technologies for GigaOM for the past three years. Before that, he worked at SBR Global in Toronto as a consultant, primarily advising clients on web-based technical projects. He is currently based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Recent Chats
  • Next: