iOS 9: Worth Upgrading?

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iOS 9 Update Screen

Apple’s new mobile operating system promised performance and stability. Unfortunately, the new release has plagued users with problems. This article examines iOS 9, how to install it, and whether it’s worth upgrading.

iOS 9 Has a New Look

iOS 9 has a new and more refined look. The fonts look cleaner, even on my old iPad 2, with a standard, non-Retina display. The changes aren’t as sweeping as with iOS 7. iOS 9 maintains the same flat look, with subtle changes. Spotlight has a smaller input field and more complete results, presented in a cleaner interface.

The new keyboard offers keys that dynamically switch between upper and lower case. This feature has been present on Android for years. This was distracting at first, but provides convenient information. It has already prevented me from typing in the wrong case. The toolbar enables easier selection, formatting and attachments. I find myself tapping the attachment or other toolbar buttons all too often, which disrupts my typing. On a smaller iPhone screen, this could be a bit of a nuisance.

iOS 9 Keyboard

The new App Switcher is a step backward for me. It resembles an offset stack of “pages”. While the views are bigger, they are obscured by other apps. I can no longer use the App Switcher to preview documents, as they are partially obscured. I now have to open the app, look at the document, and go back to the previous app.

Can't Preview Content with iOS 9 App Switcher

At best, I can try to slide one of the apps up without closing it. Even then, I can’t see a large portion of the app, making previews impossible.

Attempt to Preview Content with iOS 9 App Switcher

As companies grow in size and hire more people, new employees need to make their mark. I see more superfluous and unnecessary changes in Apple products. Some of these modifications are detrimental.

For more information about what iOS 9 has to offer, please read “iOS 9 Features“.

Browsers are Buggy on iOS 9

I had high hopes for iOS 9, after iOS 8 rendered my iPad 2 virtually unusable. After a lengthy installation, I was delighted by improved performance. Even the GeekBench 3 score showed a significant improvement in processing speed.

iOS 9 vs iOS 8 GeekBench

After a few more hours of use, the defects became more obvious. Safari and any browser using WebKit (which is every iOS browser) is hopelessly buggy. Websites I use every day are caught in an endless loop of “A problem occurred with this webpage so it was reloaded”.

Web Browsers Buggy in iOS 9

I updated Chrome to the new version supporting iOS 9. It also had similar problems. This seems to indicate an issue with WebKit and not Chrome.

Apps Crash After Upgrading

Users are reporting an increase in app crashes after upgrading to iOS 9. I have experienced several crashes, where the app closes unexpectedly. Apps that I have updated and claim to be iOS 9 compatible are crashing. This is to be expected with a “.0” release.

Users Experiencing Crashes During Update Process

According to Reuters, a significant number of users are experiencing crashes during the update process. I thought my iPad crashed, but it just took a long time to update. The progress bar seemed frozen for a while. Unfortunately, some users experience a real crash and need to fully restore their devices. Apple is aware of the problem and a solution is imminent. It seems to affect older devices, but I had no problems with my iPad 2.

This is a real problem, acknowledged by Apple, and not another “Applegate”. The Apple support website offers a fix for this issue. This will be fixed in the next release of iOS 9 — iOS 9.0.1. If you haven’t installed iOS 9 yet, I recommend waiting for 9.0.1.

There is rage and indignation on social media. These people probably shouldn’t be upgrading to a “.0” operating system the day it is released. If your device is mission critical, wait. (continue…)

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  1. “A problem occurred with this webpage so it was reloaded” is becoming epidemic.

    The problem has become steadily worse as more websites include more Flash video and graphics. Apple iDevices do not natively run Flash and Adobe has given up on a mobile version of Flash (too buggy, too vulnerable to hackers, too much battery drain). Sites such as YouTube are dual-encoded, in Flash for desktops and HTML5 for iDevices, so they usually are OK. But if an advertiser has encoded a video or graphic in Flash only, an iDevice will often choke on it and “A problem occurred with this webpage…”

    It is going to get worse, not better and Apple is philosophically opposed to Flash so there is probably no fix coming from them. The only solution will be to go to an Android or other-operating-system mobile device. I’ve gone to an Android phone. Tablet is next.

    This isn’t necessarily the ONLY cause, however. Turning off Javascript can help, too; though this may be because doing so blocks those Flash videos. However turning off Javascript disables many websites entirely.

    1. I personally think Flash is on the way out and Apple was right to dismiss it. Adobe hasn’t really provided much leadership with the product. It’s buggy and full of security holes. Apple can’t really do anything about it, as the technology is developed by Adobe.

      That said, I don’t really have a problem with Flash crashing too often on my Mac. It’s happened maybe 3 times in 7 years, but it’s the only thing (other than iTunes) that crashes on my Mac. I’ve had about 2 iTunes crashes in 7 years. I, along with a lot of tech writers, think iTunes is not very good. In fact, Apple doesn’t make any decent stock apps. They make great hardware, one great operating system (OS X) and one decent operating system (iOS). tvOS is like a beta version.

      I agree that Apple’s quality has slipped, but Flash isn’t really something Apple has control over. It’s amazing that such a buggy product has had such a long life. It came along when there weren’t many ways to do RIA. Java was a possibility, but it ended up being used on the server side more than the client side. Javascript isn’t platform independent, but JQuery has improved that quite a bit.

      Flash is still so entrenched. It’s like it will die when it’s pried out of “developers” cold, dead hands (as the saying goes). I use “developers” in quotes, because a Flash developer is pretty lightweight. That’s why they won’t give up. Writing real code is scary. Flash is just simple, interactive media coding with visual tools. I think JQuery is a more than adequate replacement, but there is just too much inertia from developers who refuse to learn anything new. Flash should have died off years ago. Most legitimate video providers have bailed on Flash long ago. Netflix was using Silverlight years ago, before there was even an iPhone. They were also weary of Adobe’s technology. H.264 has been a standard of HTML for a few years now.

      If you really need to run Flash on an iOS device, I recommend Photon. It has a cloud-based Flash solution that’s quite robust. Basically, the Flash plugin is rendered on a server. So it’s almost like a remote desktop app, but so seamless, it feels like a real browser.

      Safari is a piece of crap, both on iOS and the Mac. I use Chrome on both. Google is great at making certain apps and dealing with huge sets of data. Not so great at making devices, but they realized that and sold off Motorola. Chromecast is actually a very good value, for people who just want a simple streaming media player. Apple isn’t as good at ditching things they’re not good at, like stock apps. They should just make the devices and operating systems, and bundle the best third party apps with their devices.

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