How to prepare for the iOS update

The new operating system for Apple's mobile devices has a range of new features

The new operating system for Apple’s mobile devices has a range of new features

The latest version of Apple’s operating system for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch is about to go live – but if past launches are anything to go by, it can be a bit of an ordeal to update.

But there are a few simple measures you can take to make the process a little bit smoother – especially if you want to get your hands on iOS 8 as soon as possible:

Check your compatibility

Before you do anything, you need to make sure your device will work with iOS 8.

If you have an iPhone 4 or older, the original iPad, or an iPod Touch bought before September 2012, you won’t be able to use the new software. Any newer iOS device should be good to go, though.

If you’re not sure what model your device is, plug it in to your computer and have a look in iTunes. Alternatively, use Apple’s guide to match up the listed model numbers with what’s etched on the back of your gadget.

Have a back-up plan

All going to plan, updating your operating system shouldn’t have an impact on all of the information stored on the device – but there is a chance that things go wrong.

To make sure you’re not caught out, make sure to create a backup of each device before you start the update process. You might already have your device set to automatically send some the most vital information to Apple’s iCloud, but there’s no harm in creating a full backup on your computer to be on the safe side.

To do so, plug your iOS device into your computer and open up iTunes. In the ‘Summary’ tab for the device you should see a section called ‘Manually Back Up and Restore’ – which has a ‘Back Up Now’ button. Hit this and, after a little while, you’ll have a copy of everything safely stored on your hard drive, available to you should anything get deleted later on.

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Make some space

The new version of iOS is about 1GB in size – but you’ll need a lot more space than that on your phone to install it.

That’s because you need to download the file in full before it replaces the old OS – there also needs to be some room on there for things to get duplicated and moved around in the installation process.

If you’re using a 16GB device this may prove a little tricky – but it is doable.

Worst case scenario, you could always delete some of your bigger apps and reinstall them after iOS 8 is in place. The same goes for any photos or music (most of which should either be backed up on iTunes or iCloud).

To find out which apps are biggest, open Settings, click on General and then tap into ‘Usage’. It will take a minute, but all your apps – ranked by size – should appear in here. Chances are your Photos and Music will top the list, with everything else coming after. Now you can get a clear idea of what to delete first.

Wired or wireless?

In recent years, Apple has made it possible to update the operating system ‘over the air’ – meaning the device can be upgraded without being plugged into a computer.

To do this, you just need a decent WiFi connection – connection to a power source is also recommended, as you don’t want the battery running out of juice in the middle of the process.

Alternatively, you can tether it to your computer and update via iTunes – you’ll find the option to do this in the same place as the aforementioned back-up option.

As long as you have a stable WiFi connection, it doesn’t really make a difference which method you choose.

Good things come to those who wait

The whole world will be getting access to iOS 8 at roughly the same time – so Apple’s servers are likely to be under a lot of pressure tonight and even into tomorrow.

As well as that, the update process can take a while to complete even after everything has been downloaded.

In other words, you could be waiting a while to update and your device of choice will be pretty much out of action for the duration.

So before you update – especially when it comes to your phone – make sure you can afford the downtime and you don’t have anywhere else to be (including your bed) for at least the next hour… maybe even longer.

If you can’t be sure you’ll have time to spare, maybe put off the update for a day or two. At that stage it should be quicker to download the software from Apple – which will make the whole process a bit quicker overall.

Be prepared for a bumpy ride

Previous iOS upgrades have been met with a lot of frustration from Apple customers – particularly because of problems with getting the software from their servers.

Hopefully things will go well tonight, but be prepared for downloads to fail mid-stream, and updates to crash to a halt randomly.

Enjoy – oh, and turn on automatic updates for apps

Once you’ve downloaded your software and applied it to your device(s), you can sit back and enjoy all the new features iOS 8 has to offer.

A lot of apps have already updated to make the most of the software’s new features, and over the next few days and weeks a lot more will do the same. Some developers may have to push out additional updates as they spot bugs and problems that tend to be associated with new software.

For that reason, it might be an idea to turn on automatic updates to the app store – this will mean that all of these annoying updates will be taken care of for you (and only when you’re in a WiFi zone – so it won’t eat into your data). The alternative is having to go into the App Store on a regular basis to manually update each app for the foreseeable future.

This feature can be activated by going to Settings, scrolling down to ‘iTunes & App Store’ and switching on Automatic Downloads for Updates.

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