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iOS 8.3: Worth Upgrading?

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iOS 8.3 Worth Upgrading?

Hot on the heels of 8.2, Apple has just released iOS 8.3. The update fixes numerous bugs and improves performance, but also introduces some new defects.

Installing iOS 8.3

iOS 8.3 is a somewhat large update, coming in at just under 200 MB. The size of the update depends on your device and whether you have been updating it regularly. If the Internet is not congested, the entire process should take about an hour. Remember to turn off Bluetooth after the update, if you normally leave it off. You will also need to connect your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to your computer with a USB cable in order to re-activate iTunes WiFi sync.

iOS 8.3 is an Overall Improvement

Two steps forward and one step back seems to be the rule with iOS releases. iOS 8.3 is definitely worth installing and fixes some serious issues. It also improves performance. I installed it on my four-year-old iPad 2, and it is noticeably faster. Safari also has a new animated effect. Web pages now zoom in from the corner, similar to other iOS animation effects.

Other enhancements include a fix for a notorious WiFi bug that affected some users. WiFi connectivity would drop intermittently. I never personally experienced this issue, but a few users were affected. Apple also fixed issues with Bluetooth connectivity, orientation lock defects, Family Sharing, CarPlay and many other features. iOS 8.3 seems to be a heartfelt apology for the substandard quality of iOS 8.

Apple also added some new features to iOS 8.3. There is a new, improved Emoji keyboard that is much easier to use and offers hundreds of new Emojis. Siri has been improved and works with many new languages. The iCloud Photo Library is now a final release and has been integrated into the Photos app. For more information on fixed defects and new features in iOS 8.3, check out Apple’s website.

iOS 8.3 Security Fixes

As with all iOS releases, Apple has patched security flaws in the iOS 8.3 release. It’s amazing that the blogosphere doesn’t make a huge deal out of these flaws. Some of them are quite serious. One never knows what will create the next Apple-gate.

The backup system in iOS has been patched to fix a security flaw. Prior to iOS 8.3, it was possible for an attacker to access restricted files using the backup system. Another issue with cookies being accessible by other domains has also been fixed. The notorious lock screen vulnerabilities, which seem to exist in almost every iOS release for the past few years, have been fixed in 8.3. Indeed, the list of security fixes is quite long. This is, by far, the most security patches I have seen in any iOS release. It’s worth upgrading to iOS 8.3 just for the improved security. Visit Apple’s website for a complete list of security fixes.

iOS 8.3 Introduces Some Regressive Bugs

Unfortunately, within a few minutes of installing the release, I noticed an obnoxious bug. I could no longer change my lists in Reminders. I finally figured out that I had to tap on the actual text (the list name) instead of in the surrounding rectangle. Even then, it is slow to respond. This isn’t a huge problem, now that I found an acceptable workaround. I think it is evidence that Apple is using automated testing to do some of their regression tests. Normally, this is a smart move, as long as the author of the test scripts models user behavior accurately. In the case of Reminders, this was not accomplished. (continue…)

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