Apple’s software party comes with a few hangovers

Published: Monday, October 21, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 18, 2013 at 5:14 p.m.

The release of iOS 7, Apple’s first makeover of it’s popular mobile software, was met with near giddiness last month as millions of users counted down the minutes to the moment they could update their devices. What many were not expecting, however, was that this party came with a bit of a digital hangover for older versions, namely the iPhone 4 and 4S.

Legacy owners have been met with glitches and crashes, leaving many wondering aloud if this was an intentional attempt to put ants in the pants of certain users who would be eligible for carrier upgrades. Is this the ramblings of a “black helicopter” crowd of conspiracy theorists or is Apple padding its own sales numbers by rendering older devices as unstable?

One curious sign is that those who unwittingly made the upgrade cannot step back down to iOS 6. That’s right. Apple closed the door behind them. Certainly Apple might concede, but if you rely heavily on your mobile device, you might not want to wait to find out.

I for one, spent the better part of a day last week replacing my wife’s 4S because after hearing “I hate this phone update” for the umpteenth time, you just need an immediate resolution.

In fairness to Apple, innovation comes with a price. The company has taken heaps of criticism as of late for what has been perceived as a mobile operating system as stale as yesterday’s crouton. In 2007, iOS was considered groundbreaking and light years ahead of its time. Yet, after increasingly modest evolutionary changes, Apple has fallen behind the likes of Android and Windows platforms. How does the empire strike back? It gave the software design job to the hardware design guy, Sir Jonathan Ives, who just happens to be one of the greatest designers on the planet.

The result was a robust operating system built for a device, the new iPhone 5S, that features processing power that rivals some desktop computers with its 64-bit A7 chip. The problem apparently is pairing such a platform with say an A4, A5 or even an A6 chipset with half the memory.

Clearly Apple knew that the processing engines of these older models would have a hard time moving the big wheels of this major update. It even went as far as omitting memory-crunching 3-D and translucent graphics for this very reason. It could have further restricted updates to those with only the newest models, but that would have brought the ire and pitchforks of those left out.

Instead, legacy users who updated are contending with sluggish keyboards, hit or miss swiping, apps that take forever to load or

unexpectedly quit and graphics that confuse functionality because they do not move fast enough. While Apple has so far been mum, frustrated users do have some solutions at their fingertips.

The biggest area is memory. These devices are not meant to store a multitude of photos, music you rarely listen to or apps you’ve abandoned long ago. Backup this information to a desktop and delete it from the device or store it in the cloud so it is not siphoning all the processing power of your device.

If you’re not using applications, be sure to not leave them running in the background. A simple double-tap of the home button will allow you to see and close everything running on your device.

If you notice continued slowness, be sure to periodically reboot the device by turning it off and on. This will clear out temporary files and conserve precious memory. If all else fails, consider a clean re-install. This will allow you to start out with a fresh bank of memory. It might seem extreme, but a lean machine is better than a clunky one.

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