How do I update to iOS 8 (and should I?)

iPhone6s6Plus2iOS 8 is now available as a free update for compatible Apple devices. Here’s how to upgrade, as well as some thoughts about whether you should.
The actual upgrade process is, as with many things Apple, quite simple. If your iOS device doesn’t alert you to the upgrade with a pop up screen (mine didn’t), then head to Settings>General>Software Update, whereupon it’ll find the update for you. There are a few things to keep in mind before you hit that update button, however.

You should backup first

Backup is boring, I know. But do it anyway. Things can go wrong, and it’s early days for the new iteration of iOS. Do it. Really, back up your device, either to iCloud or to your PC or Mac. Trust me on this.

It’s a very large update

iOS 8 is a multi-gigabyte download, and that could present problems if you’re on a smaller capacity iOS device or a slow internet connection. The reality is that Apple’s servers are likely to get hammered as everyone tries to grab the download at once, making it even slower.
This has a couple of implications. First of all, it would be unwise to start the download (or try to finish it) over mobile networks. Not only will the variable speed frustrate , but the data bill at the end of the month could well send you broke.
If you’re on a lower capacity device, or just one that’s very full, you may have to clear space to make room for iOS 8. That’s where that backup (you did make one, right?) comes in handy, because once you’re done you can restore old apps or data seamlessly. It’s also feasible to do the update via iTunes, which is more space efficient as long as you’re happy to be tethered.

It’s not for every iOS device, and older devices may struggle

iOS 8 is available for iPhone 4S or newer, iPad 2 or newer and the fifth generation iPod touch. You simply won’t see it as an upgrade option on older devices.
However, if your iPhone 4S is still rocking along nicely, you may want to hold off regardless. As with a lot of older hardware and newer operating systems, just because it says it’s compatible that doesn’t mean that it’s going to run well.

iCloud Drive really wants everything on iOS 8

Apple is quite explicit about this, but people don’t read warnings.
If you’re running a mix of iOS 8 devices and those that won’t or can’t upgrade, or you’re not running the beta of Mac OS Yosemite (which is going to be most of us), then skip on iCloud Drive and wait. It’s not backwards compatible (yet) and the warnings do note that you won’t be able to access some documents in a mixed device environment. That could also hit apps that already use iCloud for other saves as well.

It’s still early days for iOS 8

All new operating systems have bugs and quirks.
Every single one. This isn’t unique to iOS 8, but it’s worth remembering, because the chances of a few quirks emerging are quite high. There are already reports of some HealthKit apps being pulled due to incompatibility for example. iOS 8 is nice, and on the right devices it’s really quite quick, but I’ve no doubt it’ll also pull out some kind of bug in me in the coming weeks that’ll make me tear my hair out… and I don’t even have hair.

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