How to update to iOS 9 on iPhone & iPad (and why you should upgrade)
iOS 9 has arrived. Find out whether you should update your iPhone or iPad to Apple’s new iOS 9 operating system, the pros and cons of making the upgrade, whether your device can update its software without slowing down, and how to install iOS 9, in our complete guide to iOS upgrades.
How can I get Apple’s new iOS 9 operating system software on my iPhone? And is my iPhone fast enough to run iOS 9 without slowing down?
iOS 9 has just arrived! If your go to Settings > General > Software Update you should see the download. But be cautions! Make sure you have a back up and expect the download to take ages!
How to update to iOS 9: The complete guide
iOS 9, the new operating system software for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, was unveiled during WWDC 2015 in June and finally becomes available to all on 16 September. You’ve probably got three questions: can I update my iPhone or iPad to iOS 9, should I update my iPhone or iPad to iOS 9 and (if the answer to the first two is yes) how can I make the upgrade.
We’ll address these questions in that order – including both how to get the beta version of iOS 9 today, if you can’t wait to get the official final version when it launches – in our complete guide to iOS upgrades.
Hang on a minute… I’m trying and I can’t download it!
A few people are seeing error messages when they try to download iOS 9 on their iPads and iPhones, this is probably due to the sheer volume of traffic right now as half the world tries to download the update. Patients will be a virtue. But if you want to try downloading via iTunes you may have more success. Here’s how to download the iOS 9 update via iTunes.
How to update to iOS 9: The basics
iOS is the operating system software that runs on iPad, iPhone and iPod touch devices. It’s the underlying framework that organises, launches and runs other apps, and can perform a number of features of its own. iOS 9 is the newest update to iOS, and will launch officially to the public on 16 September 2015.
If you’ve got an iPhone 4s (or later), an iPad 2 (or later), either of the iPad mini models, or a fifth-gen iPod touch, your device is officially rated as iOS 9-compatible, and you can update to iOS 9 for free when it comes out. (We discuss the list of compatible devices in a little more detail in the next section.) You can also access the iOS 9 beta.
We discuss iOS 9 as a single entity for most of this article, but we should quickly acknowledge that a number of smaller point upgrades will be released throughout its year-long lifetime. Don’t expect any big differences between these – mostly these will incorporate security updates, fixes and minor tweaks. When you update your device to iOS 9 (or to iOS 8, while it’s still available) you will automatically get the most recent version that is available.
How to update to iOS 9: Which iPhones & iPads can get iOS 9?
We’ve discussed this question in considerably more detail in a separate article: Can my iPhone or iPad run iOS 9? But we can summarise things here.
Essentially, if your iPhone is an iPhone 4S or later, if your iPad is an iPad 2 or later (or an iPad mini or later) and your iPod touch is fifth-gen, you’re safe – Apple has confirmed that all of those devices support iOS 9. Needless to say, the new iPhones – the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus – and the new iPad Pro will all come with iOS 9 pre-installed, so you won’t need to worry about updating those devices to iOS 9.
We feel compelled to point out that devices on the borderline – the somewhat older iPhones and iPads that only just make it on the list – have in the past often struggled to run new software effectively. The iPhone 4s was the oldest iPhone that was allowed to run iOS 8, but lots of users found that it slowed down as soon as the installed the new software. iPhone 4 owners had a similarly negative experience when they upgraded to iOS 7.
These devices were powerful enough to run the new version of iOS – but only just. And you don’t want to be in that position. We therefore used to advise people not to update their iPhones and iPads if they were at the older end of the list of compatible devices. They should at least wait for a few days, we suggested, and see if other people with that device complain about slowdowns. It’s generally very hard to downgrade from one version of iOS back to the previous one.
This time, however, all bets are off. Normally iOS gets more and more demanding to run each year; but Apple claims iOS 9 isn’t just level with iOS 8, it’s actually less demanding. In other words, devices that were starting to run a little slowly with iOS 8 may even speed up when upgraded to iOS 9.
We’ve only run the beta of iOS 9 so far, and we won’t be able to test this statement until the official version launches in September. But it’s a grand claim.
How to update to iOS 9: Should I upgrade to iOS 9? What are the benefits, and will iOS 9 slow down my Apple device?
This leads us to a harder question: even if you’re allowed to upgrade, is it a good idea to install iOS 9? Are there any reasons why you wouldn’t upgrade to iOS 9?
Should you update to iOS 9? The cons
First of all, bear in mind that upgrading iOS tends to be essentially a one-way journey. It’s always extremely hard (if not impossible) to go back to the previous versionafterwards, so be sure you want to do this before starting the upgrade process.
So you’ll probably be stuck with the new OS if you update. But are there any actual down sides in the way iOS 9 will work?
The first is speed. While Apple always works on streamlining iOS and making sure it runs smoothly, it has to be said that the past couple of updates have both slowed down older iPhones and iPads. As we said, iPhone 4s owners were not impressed when iOS 8 noticeably slowed down a lot of their devices, so the same could be true for iOS 9. Apple says this year will be different, but we’d still advise caution until you’ve heard from people on the same hardware as you that iOS 9 runs okay.
There are no major changes in the visual design department, so you’re unlikely to be upset by changes to the way iOS 9 looks compared with iOS 8. When iOS 7 launched two years ago, many users were horrified by the radical graphical redesign, which took a while to get used to and still annoys a minority of iPhone and iPad owners. That year we advised people to spend time with borrowed iOS 7 devices if they could, and see if they got used to the look of the OS after a week or two – generally interface changes feel earth-shattering at the time, then before you know it you can’t remember how it used to look.
But in this case, as we say, there’s no significant visual rethink. iOS 9 looks very much like iOS 8, which in turn looked very much like iOS 7.
Other than that, we don’t expect there to be any major worries for those expecting an update.
Should you update to iOS 9? The pros
Of course, the pros are that you’re getting a new operating system that comes with loads of new features. You can find out about the new features in iOS 9 in more detail in our iOS 9 preview, but below is an outline of what you’ll be getting.
New features: An exciting new ‘Proactive’ Siri-activated personal assistant, rather like Google Now; pubic-transport directions (and other new features) in an improved Maps app; new and improved Multitasking (which is split screen on iPad Air 2), a new News app, an overhauled Notes app.
Design tweaks: As we said, the design changes aren’t earth-shattering, but the designers have smoothed a few things over. They keyboard has been slightly redesigned and improved, for example, and some of the visuals are very slighty different to make them easier on the eye.
Fixes, tweaks and stability stuff: Boring but useful, particularly the battery life enhancements that should mean an hour extra power and a new low power mode to extend battery even further.
Future-proofing your device: This will become important in the future. Generally app developers try to make their stuff work with a wide variety of devices, but there will always be a limit. Check your favourite app on the App Store, and under Information you’ll see something like ‘Requires iOS 6.0 or later’. In a few years apps will start to say things like ‘Requires iOS 9.0 or later’.
Should you update to iOS 9? Conclusion
If your iPad or iPhone is up to it (and really up to it – not just officially rated as iOS 9-compatible), you should probably update. Even if you don’t care about the new features, the boring stuff – such as bug fixes and compatibility with new apps – is important.
See where your iPhone or iPad sits on the chart of compatible devices above. If it’s only just new/powerful enough to run the new OS, you need to find out if there will be any speed problems, so wait for a few days after it’s launched to the public in September. See how people with the same model as you get on.
How to update to iOS 9: Important steps to prepare your iPhone or iPad for the upgrade
We’re about to walk you through the update process. But before we get to that, here are the steps you should take before you click yes on that update alert.
1) Back up your data
Use iCloud or iTunes to back up your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. If you don’t do this, and you find that messages or photos disappear from your iPhone after the update, then that’s your look-out.
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. For that reason we recommend backing up to your computer as well as iCloud.
2) Save a compatible copy of iOS 8 in case you change your mind
You may change your mind and decide you want to downgrade from iOS 9 to iOS 8, and this will be easier if you make sure you’ve got a copy of the latest version of iOS 8 compatible with your device.
You see, Apple ‘signs’ versions of iOS, which in effect tells your iPhone or iPad that the version you want to use is okay for that device. As long as that version is signed, you can install it on your iOS device, even if it’s earlier than the one on there at the moment. (Traditionally, Apple stops signing old versions of iOS only a day or two after releasing major updates, so you’ll need to act quickly if you want to go back.)
If you have a copy on your hard drive you will find it, by default, by following this path:youruserfolder/Library/iTunes and then select the Software Updates folder for your device.
Your Mac may have deleted this file, however. If so, launch your web browser and search for download ipsw. You’ll find a number of sites offering links to the file you need. Make sure you get the right one for the device you use.
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.
Our iPhone required 5.8GB of space to be available in order to perform the iOS 8 update – since our iPhone is only 16GB this wasn’t really an option so we opted instead to update via iTunes on our Mac. More on that process below.
For iOS 9 we’re hopeful that the install file will be a bit smaller. That’s what Apple says, anyway.
4) Update iTunes on your Mac or PC
A couple of years ago 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.
It was a big enough issue for Apple to actually start selling Snow Leopard again because it was the only way to get the Mac App Store – which is the only way to update to later versions of the Mac OS.
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 Wi-Fi
Be sure that you are downloading over Wi-Fi and not via 3G or 4G, or you may end up using up all your data for the month.