It isn't just iPhone 5C and 5S users that will be playing among the bubbles of the new iOS 7 user interface. Many existing iOS devices can use it too, but what are the essentials for a good update experience?
The App Updates Are Already Flocking
After all the fun of the iPhone 5C launch entree, now comes the main course for most iDevice users. As most keen-eyed iOS user will have spotted, the number of app updates in the store has rocketed in the last couple of days. With the new Apple system launching today, iOS 7 compatibility updates are appearing rapidly as the Gold Master of the OS circulated among developers, allowing them to make final checks.
This should calm some of the worry about incompatible apps, but there are bound to be a few crash victims given the vast iOS app library. Still, the likes of eBay, FourSquare and other big name apps are all updating to take advantage of the new look of iOS 7, so best get ready. Note, iCloud has already updated to the new look. Apple's own apps like Apple Store have also updated, offering a "refined user interface."
With that out of the way, next check you can upgrade. Users of an iPhone 4 and up, iPod 5th generation and an iPad 2 or above can join the party. That criterion met, you need to be running the latest version of iOS (6.1.3) to upgrade on the device, or the latest iTunes (11.0.5) to upgrade via your computer.
Note that Apple is already working on iOS 7.1 for the upcoming next-generation iPad launch, so if you're nervous about version x.0 launches, then you might want to steer clear until that update arrives, likely in October. Remember, Microsoft wants your old iPad if you want to get rid of one.
Update: the iOS 7 update is now live, 768MB for an iPhone 4S update, 900MB for an iPad 3. Your download time and file size may vary, depending on device and connection. Note, if you get the "Software Update Unavailable" message, having downloaded the app, just keep trying it will clear after a few goes.
Stand By Your Update Button
While Apple hasn't given a time for iOS 7's launch, the previous 6.0 release arrived at 10AM PST, 1PM EDT, 6PM U.K. While a hassle, it makes good sense to update all of these apps ahead of the new version. On the plus side iOS 7 will make future app updates invisible and automatic, but what else should users be doing to prepare for the update?
Since Apple's servers will likely be hosed from the opening seconds of availability, perhaps you might want to give the opening day rush a miss and come back at a more sensible time. Remember you can download the update via iTunes to your system which is marginally less hassle tapping your screen for hours.
Backup or be Damned
Naturally, having ticked all the right boxes and upgraded where appropriate, the first thing to do before any iOS update, yet alone a whole version upgrade is to backup your iOS device using iTunes. The update process will likely demand this anyway, but doing it ahead of time will save you some effort.
Backing up your contacts and data is the least you can do. You should also ensure your iCloud backups of photos and documents are up to date, and move your desktop based photos out of the Photo Stream folder to a permanent home.
The best iOS 7 experience will likely be seen on a fresh device, so are you prepared to can your existing apps to make a clean slate for the update? The Erase All Content and Settings function in the Settings, Reset menu is your key to a fresh device. That'll get rid of all those space hogging Angry Birds games you no longer play and other rubbish.
If you're low on storage space, then doing this also solves that problem, without having to wade through apps by size in the Settings, General, Usage menu to find out which sizeable apps you can kill. Estimates suggest you'll need between 2 to 3GB free to install iOS 7, so having that free in advance will also help.
Finally, with all that in place you should be able to enjoy the new Notification area, improved apps and some reports even suggest iPhone 4S users get the burst mode feature promised for the 5S's camera app.
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