While upgrading to a new version of iOS is often exciting, it can also prove to be very, very frustrating - because of the time the process takes and especially when things don’t go so well.
Read This First
iOS 7 brings with it many new features and changes. There are new gestures, and the operation of some apps - such as the calendar and Voice Memos - have changed significantly. While I do not regret updating to iOS 7 for an instant, since it is generally not possible to downgrade Apple software it is important to make an informed decision. We have two Blogs - What’s New in iOS 7 Accessibility for Individuals who are Blind, Deaf-blind, or who have Low Vision and Possible Accessibility Bugs for VoiceOver Users in iOS 7 - which you may wish to read before hitting the update button.
The most important thing to remember when updating your device, whether you update via iTunes on your computer or use wireless Over-the-Air Update, is to make a full and complete backup of your device before starting. You can backup your device using either iTunes on your computer or iCloud, depending on personal preference. This will ensure that, among other things, your contacts and other customizations will not be lost if something goes horribly wrong during the update process. Even if you want to set your device up as new and not restore from a backup, if something happens you will be kicking yourself if you don’t have a current backup on hand—trust me.
While this article was written based on my experiences installing iOS 7 Beta 6, it is safe to assume that your experiences installing the public iOS 7 release should be similar. It is important to remember, though, that Apple’s servers will be under an incredibly high volume of traffic on launch day—and probably a couple days after as well. Expect the iOS 7 downloads to take longer during the first couple days the software is available, as well as possible delays during the device activation process. This is to be expected and should not be a cause for alarm. Even if you get an error message during the activation process, a lot of release day update errors are caused by server overload. That’s not to say that some users won’t have difficulty updating; this is the unfortunate reality on any operating system. By and large, though, it is pretty safe to assume that your update experience will be relatively trouble-free.
Updating: Over-the-Air or iTunes
Last year, iOS 6 was available using over-the-air (OTA) update as well as using the conventional iTunes installation method. As developers are unable to install betas for the first time using OTA update, I cannot attest to the ease or speed of this process. If iOS 5 and 6 OTA updates are any indicator, though, installing iOS 7 OTA should be very easy—but it could take longer than updating using iTunes. If you have the time and patience and are content to leave your phone for a while, do OTA update and save yourself the hassle of using iTunes. If you do use OTA update, keep in mind that your phone could take 20-30 minutes - and possibly even longer - to install the update after downloading it. This is completely normal, but it is important to remember that during this time, you will have no speech feedback.
To download iOS 7 using OTA Update, go to Settings> General> Software Update. iOS 7 should be shown as an available update, and there will be a download button. Double-tap the download button and follow the instructions.
Updating to iOS 7 using iTunes is also very easy. Once your phone is connected to the computer, open iTunes and arrow through the sources list until you find the iOS device you wish to update. Press Tab to reach the “Check for Update” button and press enter on it. You will be asked to accept the iOS 7 license agreement, and then the update will download (expect the file size to be over 1Gb), and the installation should begin automatically. On my iPhone 5 and iPad Mini, the actual installation of iOS 7 Beta 6 upgrading from iOS 6.1 took between 10 and 15 minutes. The time it takes to install the update will, I suspect, depend on the device you are using, but the speed of the installation was nevertheless quite encouraging.
If you have any questions related to iOS 7 - be it about updating, what to expect after you update, or anything else - please feel free to post them to the AppleVis Forum. Also, if you have suggestions or tips for fellow users, please do post them to the forum or as replies to the appropriate blogs/podcasts.