iOS 8.4.1: Worth Upgrading?

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iOS 8.4.1 Update Screen

iOS 8 has proven to be Apple’s most difficult release yet. The new iOS 8.4.1 update fixes several Apple Music bugs, but seems to introduce other defects. It’s worth upgrading to iOS 8.4.1 if you use Apple Music or have concerns about security. If you have an older device, such as an iPad 2 or iPhone 4S, hold off on this update. GeekBench 3 reveals that it is significantly slower than iOS 8.4.

iOS 8.4.1 Fixes Apple Music Bugs

Several users are experiencing problems with the iOS 8 release, which have persisted for almost a year. This is highly unusual. iOS 7 got off to a rocky start, but was stable after a few months. iOS 8 has had an unprecedented number of patches, but typical Apple quality is still elusive.

If you use Apple Music, it may be worth upgrading to iOS 8.4.1. I can finally add music to playlists without downloading the songs first. Overall, Apple Music is more responsive and stable, even on older devices. I have experienced the occasional audio drop out after upgrading, even when the songs are downloaded on to my device. These are extremely rare, and have not detracted from the Apple Music experience.

There are other annoying bugs present in Apple Music after the iOS 8.4.1 upgrade. When I clear the Now Playing queue, it re-populates with songs I listened to days ago. I have to clear it a few times until it is empty. The history of music played on the Now Playing list is also incorrect. It shows music I listened to several weeks ago as tracks that were just played. Nonetheless, the Apple Music bug fixes in iOS 8.4.1 are a small step forward.

The iOS 8.4.1 upgrade only fixes Apple Music bugs and several security flaws. Users hoping for a patch for WiFried and other issues should probably wait for iOS 9, which should come out in September. Apple’s next major version of iOS promises to fix bugs and improve performance on older devices.

iOS 8.4.1 fixes the following Apple Music defects:

    • Resolves issues that could prevent turning on iCloud Music Library
    • Resolves an issue that hides added music because Apple Music was set to show offline music only
    • Provides a way to add songs to a new playlist if there aren’t any playlists to choose from
    • Resolves an issue that may show different artwork for an album on other devices
    • Resolves several issues for artists while posting to Connect
    • Fixes an issue where tapping Love doesn’t work as expected while listening to Beats 1

Installing iOS 8.4.1

iOS 8.4.1 is a very small release. The download is 40 to 57 MB, depending on your device and how often you have been upgrading iOS.

You can run the update by tapping Settings > General > Software Update. Tap Download and Install to start the process. You will need to accept new legal agreements to proceed. The entire process takes about 20 minutes on an iPhone 6.

iOS 8.4.1 Legal Agreements

It is best to backup your device before starting the update. Even a small update can cause problems. For more information on best update practices, please read “How to Upgrade iOS“.

Users Reporting Problems with iOS 8.4.1

I haven’t experienced any of the new problems reported with iOS 8.4.1, however, it hasn’t fixed any existing issues. My iPad 2 is still unbearably slow and 8.4.1 seems to have introduced even more latency. Safari will crash, especially after sharing a web page on social media. The crashes seem to be related to iOS 8 Extensions.

Surfing the web with Safari is unbearably slow and the pages bounce around as different elements load, which seems to take forever. After checking my Internet connection speed, it is clearly an issue with iOS 8. Researching the issue, users on the Apple Support Forum claim that doing a complete factory reset and re-installing iOS will not improve this issue. Don’t waste your time with this useless endeavor.

Not everyone has benefitted from upgrading to iOS 8.4.1. Users are reporting even more problems. Forbes published an article detailing numerous defects introduced in iOS 8.4.1. Users are reporting excessive battery drain, crashes with the Phone app, major WiFi problems, and slow performance on the newest iPads — the iPad Air and iPad Air 2.

Some users are noticing new Apple Music bugs surfacing in iOS 8.4.1. Most notably, they are unable to make music available offline. I haven’t experienced this problem at all. I use Apple Music every day, and it seems to have improved. Unfortunately, not everyone has the same experience as me. I have to admit, it is still buggy.

GeekBench 3 Reveals iOS 8.4.1 Significantly Slower

I ran GeekBench 3 before and after the iOS 8.4.1 update. Unfortunately, the new version of iOS offers decreased performance on an iPad 2.

iOS 8.4.1 Is Slower than 8.4

I notice it, and the numbers tell the truth — iOS 8.4.1 is slower than its predecessor. I am starting to believe the conspiracy theories that Apple hobbles devices and under-clocks processors before new products are released. Perhaps the numerous security fixes require changes to the core operating system. This is a big performance decrease for a 40MB operating system update. (continue…)

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UPDATE: iOS 9 is now available and offers improved performance, especially on older devices. Some users are experiencing problems and have had to restore their devices. You may want to wait for the next version of iOS — 9.0.1. For more information, please read “iOS 9: Worth Upgrading?“.




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4 thoughts on “iOS 8.4.1: Worth Upgrading?

  1. I decided to do an about face an update my iPad 3 from (iOS 5.1.1 to iOS 8.4.1). Btw that is the OS version required befor you can move up to iOS 9.

    At first I was against all the new OS design changes brought from the Jony Ive team who replaced Scott Forstall. What made me do an about face and make the jump was that with all of the underlying changes to most websites these days, Safari on iOS 5.1.1 just struggles. Pages are loaded in blocks, on certain webpages if you move the page around or zoom in, the page essentially reloads and begins to fill the screen in sections.

    I’m also a big fan of not Apple Music but what used to be called iTunes Radio. It’s free and there are many artists I have discovered and did I mention it’s FREE. Yes I did !

    I also found that certain games were sluggish on iOS 5.1.1 running on my iPad 3. So with that brief background, I decided to take a chance even after watching countless iOS 8 YouTube videos on the iPad 3. And I knew if those videos were misrepresenting how iOS 8 runs on the iPad 3, there was NO going back. It would be a heavy tablet paperweight.

    Much to my surprise, I am quite pleased with the results and how the iPad 3 works with iOS 8.4.1, that doesn’t mean all is perfect but it’s certainly acceptable. The most noticeable effects of lag and stutter can be found in three places:

    1) Rotate the screen while in the App Store app.
    2) Scrolling thru the stock wallpaper, there’s stutter and pauses
    3) Some slight pauses and stutter in the Music App, but nothing that’s a show stopper.

    Besides that it’s pretty good. Pulling down Spotlight is smooth, pulling down notification center is smooth. Safari appears responsive and stable even with JavaScript turned on. I’m not a person who rarely opens more than two tabs. So it’s usually 1 primary tab and a secondary tab if I touched a hotlink on a page.

    So there you have it, my iPad 3 essentially gets new life, with Safari being more responsive and the overall package acceptable. That said I do acknowledge that Scott Forstall’s versions of iOS are still the standard in it’s simplicity and performance. Unfortunately for me, time has moved on since 2012 when I bought the iPad 3 at launch as much as I wanted to stay in the past.

    p.s. I was just reading some stats this morning that said, Mobile Phone sales and Mobile Phone online traffic to online retailers has eclipsed Tablet sales and traffic for the first time ever. While Apple’s core business is the iPhone, could we be seeing the beginning of the end for tablets? iPad sales have declined for something like 6-8 quarters in a row. It’s ironic that I purchased a new Nexus 6 phone this morning when Amazon dropped the price for BF to $199.

    • It sounds like the iPad 3 can handle 8.4.1 quite well. I didn’t know that one had to upgrade to 8.4.1 before installing 9.1. That’s actually good, because 8.4.1 is more stable. 9.1 offers faster performance than 8.4.1, according to GeekBench 3. Still, I would hold off on that, as it has some serious defects.

      iOS 5 was one of my least favorite releases. I liked iOS 4 and iOS 6 the best. I think there was a lot of turmoil at Apple when iOS 5 was released. That’s actually when I started this site. I was a bit fed up with AirPlay crashing all the time.

      iTunes Radio and Beats 1 are both free. Going for three months of free Apple Music is also a good idea. Just make sure to cancel. You can turn off auto-renewals right after signing up, and not risk being billed.

      Tablet sales have been declining for a few years. I think it is for a few reasons. People don’t upgrade tablets as often as phones. With larger phones, some people can just make do with one device. I also think there are people like me, who bought a tablet in the hopes it would mature into a PC/Mac replacement. That never really happened for me. Even with a newer/faster iPad, it’s just the limitations of iOS that will keep me away from tablets. I think Apple will be surprised that corporations aren’t clamoring to adopt the iPad Pro. It’s just too expensive. They can get a complete Dell system for less than $400 that does the same thing. In addition to the cost of the device, corporations have to invest in new site licenses for software, like Microsoft Office or various Adobe products. Then there’s ergonomics. Most office workers won’t want to slouch over an iPad. One could position the iPad at eye level and get a non-Apple Bluetooth keyboard and put it at wrist level. Even with the new keyboard shortcuts, users will have to shift between the keyboard and tapping the screen.

      It has its place. If a corporation gets custom apps made for the iPad Pro, it could empower field workers to be more productive. I just don’t see it as a replacement for the Windows PC in the rows of corporate cube farms.

      I think the most popular use for the iPad is as a coffee table device. It is kind of nice to pick it up off the coffee table and quickly surf the web. It’s a steep price to pay for that. I could just as easily use my iPhone for that. I will definitely be getting the Plus model next time. I have the iPhone 6 right now.

      • I think the reason the iPad 2 struggles with iOS 9 is because it has 512MB of onboard memory. It appears that iOS 9 is very aggressive flushing out memory to allow more apps to run in the background. Hence why you see reloads in Safari if you go to another app and come back as well as resprings back to the home screen. This usually happens if you have several of tasks running in the background and memory is flushed out too aggressively and then the iPad 2 just loses where it’s at and just locks up until the home screen comes back and going into the diagnostics log usually produces a plethora of Jetsam errors.

        What clued me to this is when I noticed pulling up the settings app and the screen would be blank for several seconds. Once the screen was populated, if I closed the screen and touched the settings icon again, there was no waiting. If I quit the settings app and touch the settings icon again, you have to wait again for the screen to appear.

        The same goes for the Music App, Safari, etc. If I could have a do-over, I would have left the iPad 2 on iOS 7.1.2 and it was running great. Hopefully the last iOS 9 update will smooth things out than where the OS is right now. The Ipad 2 should never have been allowed to get iOS 9 and I hope Apple thinks twice about iOS 10 on the iPad 2.

        • These are some insightful observations. I think it is true that Apple has to make the best out of such limited resources. One has to wonder why they put so little memory in it. Memory is not that expensive.

          I also notice, with iOS 9, a lot of apps don’t clean up resources. I’m not sure if this is an iOS issue or something developers have neglected. It seems to happen with far too many apps. Facebook had a notable bug where resources weren’t cleaned up. I have resigned myself to resetting my iPad (hold down home and sleep/wake until I see the Apple logo) whenever I am done using it.

          At first I thought Apple was very generous to let users upgrade their older devices. Now it seems to be more of a trap. They don’t do this with the Mac. I have a 6 year old Mac that is running Yosemite and it’s fast. I know someone with a 6 year old Mac Mini running Yosemite, and it is also fast. That one only has 2 GB of memory.

          The problem with not upgrading iOS devices is that you don’t get the security updates. They release security notes, which unfortunately inform hackers how to compromise older devices. With the Mac, they push security and minor updates independent of major releases, and support older versions of OS X for years.

          I just hope they don’t start doing planned obsolescence for their Mac customers. I also think people will catch on and they will see fewer people upgrading to new versions of iOS. At this point, my iPad is just a test machine. I also verify my findings with what others experience. Even on a newer device, iOS 9 users are facing a lot of app crashes. I’m still hoping 9.2 will be good enough to install on my iPhone.

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