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By now you’ve heard that iOS 7 will be available on September 18th, a couple of days before the new iPhone 5C and 5S arrive. (Apple learned its lesson – one of the older updates came out the same day as new hardware, and their servers were overwhelmed.) I’m not going to tell you all about it, as there have been numerous write-ups done for weeks based on the betas;  you can’t switch a virtual dead cat without hitting one on the web. I will tell you about my experience loading the new Gold Master (GM), or final, version, on my current hardware.

In our family we have a pair of iPhone 4Ss, an iPhone 4 (without a valid SIM card and used as an iPod/backup), an iPad 3 and iPad 2, and an iPhone 5 supplied to me from my job. I’ve been running the betas on my iPhone 4S and the 4 since they aren’t used much. The final beta has worked flawlessly for me on those devices, with the exception of very long reboot times – if I turned the device off, it just took a very long time to reboot and come back up (up to 5 minutes in some cases). I’m pleased to report that is not the case with the GM release.

Since the GM is available to developers, I decided to go ahead and beat the rush. I’ve loaded it on all my devices, and had only one glitch. My wife’s iPhone 4S choked partway through the upgrade with an “unknown” error. It then restarted itself in recovery mode, meaning it needed to be reset to factory default. I hooked it up to iTunes and restored 6.1.3, and then restored the backup I had taken just before attempting to upgrade. Once that was done, I tried again, and everything worked fine.

So before you attempt to upgrade, make sure you have a backup available – take one just before you start the upgrade. In addition, make sure you backup to your computer, and that you encrypt the backup:

Screen Shot 2013-09-10 at 7.42.27 PM

If you encrypt and password-protect your backup, then when you restore it, all the passwords in your programs will be restored as well. If not, they are not restored, and you will have a lot of fun re-entering them all. You should always use encrypted backups, and even if you normally back up to iCloud, you should make a local backup just before upgrading. This way, if you can’t get connectivity right away for some reason (forgotten WiFi password, for example), you can still restore everything (at which point you may find your phone or tablet working normally again).

In addition to iOS 7, there will be a new version of iTunes that includes iTunes Radio (I’m running the beta now). While that’s a nice feature, it’s not the reason to upgrade right away – I’ve found that the WiFi sync is far more stable under the beta version, at least for me, even for iOS 6 devices. In fact, I often could not sync at all without connecting my devices via cable under the released version of iTunes. So even if you aren’t in a hurry to go to iOS 7, you may want to consider an iTunes upgrade if your WiFi sync or backups have been problematic. I couldn’t get any wireless backups at all to work, and only the occasional sync, so the beta version is a welcome change.

I’ve found that the iPhone 4 is a tad sluggish at times, but it does seem a bit faster than iOS 6. I think this is because many of the transitions themselves have been speeded up, like throwing email into the trash. Still it’s acceptable. The 4S occasionally stalls for a moment, but for the most part is very fluid. The 5S and iPads run fine.

The only programs I have had issue with are my MetaWatch program and MLB At Bat. For some reason, the MetaWatch program won’t connect to the watch – I’ve seen this listed as a known problem on the web, so hopefully it will be fixed soon. MLB At Bat on my 4S won’t set push notifications – it displays a nebulous error. But it works fine on my iPad 3 and iPhone 5, so it may be just that phone.

I like the new look. I’m hoping developers will take advantage of the new features, like background downloading – that would be great for my comics purchases. To me, the look is much easier on the eyes. And I like how you can swipe to go back on some screens rather than have to always reach the back button. I like being able to send mail to Junk with one less press. Overall, I just like the new iOS better and I’m glad the GM is finally here.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQHlZ7VwlG0

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  • Phyllis Evans

    How did I not know about the encrypted backup & passwords? Thanks, Jack.