iOS 7, Apple's newest software operating system for iPhone, iPad, iPad mini and iPod touch, has launched, bring lots of great new features, a radically different visual style, and enhanced security. We think you should update as soon as possible, although some may hold a different view. Assuming you're up for it, here's how to get iOS 7 on your iPhone or iPad.
Updating to iOS 7 is free (assuming your iOS device is compatible - we deal with that later), and pretty straightforward, although there are occasional problem to look our for. Follow our guide to downloading and installing iOS 7, and you'll be fine. We explain everything you need to do before downloading iOS 7, and help you avoid the pitfalls that may follow the update.
Problems installing iOS 7
We had a complete nightmare installing iOS 7 - it took us four hours. So if you do too, don't feel like you're alone. But we updated pretty much as soon as it was launched, and things should be a lot easier now, both because the rush has died down (a lot of people experienced difficulties, probably because Apple's servers couldn't cope with all the attention) and because some initial bugs and problems that weren't noticed in the beta testing phase have since been patched.
Read A diary of an iOS 7 download, errors, errors and more errors and maybe you'll find a fix for your particular experience of the iOS 7 download. But as we said, installing iOS 7 should be far more headache-free now than when the operating system was first launched.
What to do before updating to iOS 7
Here are the steps you should take before you click yes on that update alert.
1) Check your device is compatible with iOS 7
The following iPhones, iPads and iPods are compatible with iOS 7 – although that doesn't mean that they will be able to take advantage of every feature.
- iPhone 5S
- iPhone 5C
- iPhone 5
- iPhone 4S
- iPhone 4
- iPad 4
- iPad 3
- iPad 2
- iPad mini
- Fifth-generation iPod touch
The new AirDrop feature, for instance, is limited to the iPhone 5 and later, the iPad 4, and the most recent iPhone and iPad mini. For more information, read our guide to which iPhones and iPads are compatible with iOS 7.
2) Back up your data
Use iCloud or iTunes to back up your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Beware: the backup will include purchased music, TV shows, apps, and books; photos and video in the Camera Roll; and device settings, but it won't include anything you synced from your computer. To re-sync that stuff you'll need to sync with iTunes.
3) Make room on your device
If you have limited space on your phone you may not be able to perform the update - it's a fairly hefty download. To get ready, you can remove content you no longer need, which is a good idea in any case. See our guide to making room on your iPhone or iPad.
4) Update iTunes on your Mac or PC
Last year people updated iPhones to iOS 6, only to discover that their iPhone or iPad could no longer talk to their Macs because they were running an old version of iTunes. This was made worse if they couldn't actually update to a version of iTunes that was compatible because they were running Mac OS X Leopard on their Macs. This was a big enough issue for Apple to actually start selling Snow Leopard again. Read our article about how to get Snow Leopard.
5) Plug in your iPhone or iPad
Make sure you plug in your device to a power source. If you run out of battery mid download you may corrupt the iPad or iPhone.
6) Make sure you're connected to WiFi
Be sure that you are downloading over WiFi and not via 3G or 4G, or you may end up using up all your data for the month. Read our guide: how to stop running out of cellular data.
How to download iOS 7
The update is pushed out to your iPhone or iPad automatically. You just need to go into the software update section of Settings and accept the update.
1) Go to Settings > General > Software Update
This will force your iPhone or iPad to check for the latest updates. (You may get an alert telling your that iOS 7 is ready, in which case you'll just need to tap download.)
2) Tap Download
Your iPhone or iPad will start to download the update.
3) Leave the update to download in the background
Once the download has finished you will receive a notification saying an update is available for your device.
4) Tap Details
This will take you to Settings > General > Software Update.
5) Tap Install Now
The iPhone or iPad will now start to install the iOS update.
You can choose to leave the installation for later. Settings will display a notification badge until you have installed the update.
Reasons not to update on the day an iOS update launches
As we saw with iOS 7 - the biggest visual change yet - an update to iOS can make your iPhone or iPad look completely different. If you're scared of change, maybe wait a bit.
Don't update if you rely on being able to jailbreak your iPhone. There's generally a delay before someone comes up with a jailbreak for a new iOS, and we're still waiting for a jailbreak of iOS 7.
Remember Maps. Everyone who downloaded iOS 6 immediately then got hopelessly lost when they discovered Google Maps had been replaced by Apple Maps, as had a number of landmarks.
Beware of bugs. Every new update brings with it bugs that somehow got missed in the testing process. Beware: your iPhone or iPad might just stop working if it doesn't like something about iOS 7. Let others discover the problems first.
The latest version of iOS might break your apps. Before you update to iOS 7 make sure that your existing apps are up to date and that you have a backup of your iPhone or iPad.
For example, Kindle is warning that if you don't update your Kindle app before updating to iOS 7 you may have to download your books again. A Kindle update to version 3.9.2 is necessary before you update to iOS 7. Kindle says: "This is a fix for a Kindle issue with the upcoming iOS 7 OS upgrade that may cause customers to have to re-register and re-download books from Amazon."
Don't download if you aren't at home - it's easier to troubleshoot when you are in the same room as your Mac or PC, and have access to WiFi.
If your iPhone is a work phone, hold fire… Updating may break your work email or critical apps. Try explaining that to your boss.
Beware battery life problems. Sometimes iOS updates have a tendency to affect battery life. This is the kind of thing that someone else can discover for you.
Remember you generally can't go back after you install a new version of iOS.
Find out what to expect from iOS 7 – read our iOS 7 review here.