October 15, 2013, 3:16 PM — Since iOS 7 was released on Sept. 18, more than two-thirds of iOS users have upgraded to Apple's new mobile operating system, which introduced a new interface and a slew of new features. And while most users seem happy with the update, there have been a few persistent problems.
Among the issues most widely reported is a Lockscreen security flaw identified by Germany's Chaos Computer Club. Apple fixed that problem within days, but there have also been complaints that iOS 7 drains battery life, the keyboard lags and there's an issue with iMessage.
These glitches don't undermine the fact that the iOS 7 launch has largely been a big success: It has already been adopted by 69.2% of iOS users, according to Mixpanel Trends, leaving 27% with iOS 6 and just 3.74% still using the two-year old iOS 5. That vast and fast deployment is unique in the modern mobile industry.
Moving to squash issues almost as quickly as they show up, Apple has already released two upgrades -- iOS 7.0.1 and 7.0.2 -- and 7.0.3 is already in development. The company also urged affected users to explore its online troubleshooting documents or contact AppleCare for help.
Apple has also been willing to acknowledge problems, confirming to Computerworld, for instance, that iMessages will sometimes not send messages once iOS 7 is installed. An Apple spokesman told Computerworld: "We are aware of an issue that affects a fraction of a percent of our iMessage users, and we will have a fix available in an upcoming software update... We apologize for any inconvenience this causes impacted users."
Although some users have argued that Apple should have delayed release of iOS 7 to avoid such problems, it's not unusual for flaws to show up in a new release, given the complexity of a software upgrade for millions of devices.
"Mobile software is so complex these days, a few bugs at launch is to be expected for any smartphone or tablet vendor," said Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics. "The iOS 7 update is a fairly major revision of the operating system and user interface, so it's inevitable a few bugs will slip through the net during the first phase of launch."
Even so, it's important that Apple show it's responding to any identified flaws, Mawston said. "Apple fans are a loyal and forgiving bunch, so Apple has time to fix the bugs in iOS 7. But after the Maps mislaunch last year and a slightly buggy iOS 7 launch this year, Apple must be very careful that it does not tarnish its famous brand and gain a reputation for suboptimal software development."
Apple's Maps launch became an iconic moment for the company: Poor Maps performance led to a public apology by Apple CEO Tim Cook and the firing of senior iOS executive, Scott Forstall.
The two iOS 7 updates already introduced suggest the company wants to avoid sinking under a sea of glitches.
Not everyone has been affected by glitches; for many users the upgrade has been trouble-free. For those who have had issues, we've assembled a few tips that should help most users deal with the most commonly reported problems.
To reset an iOS 7 device, go to Settings --> General --> Reset.
If your iOS system encounters performance glitches -- the OS seems slow, for instance -- there are three basic steps any user should try: Restart, Reset or Restore. (This is similar to what you'd do on a Windows PC or Mac after a major upgrade.) As always, it's good to have a recent backup of your data and apps so you can restore everything down the road if you need to.
A restart is simple: Switch your device off (hold down the power button until you get the red "slide to power off" bar, then swipe). After it powers down, hold the power switch until the device restarts. This can often fix minor problems with iOS 7 or a particular app.
To reset a device, go to Settings --> General --> Reset. You'll see six options. The first one, Reset All Settings, keeps all your media and other files intact -- though you'll need to re-enter some of your settings after taking this step.
The last option is more time consuming: Restore the device entirely. (For this you definitely want to have a recent backup, either to iCloud or to your computer using iTunes.) Connect your device to iTunes. You'll find the Restore option in the top pane within the Summary view. Restore basically takes your device back to its factory default condition. You can then restore you data and apps from the backup, or if you want to be meticulous, add back your apps and data piecemeal.
How to fix Messages
Symptom: When sending a message, users see the status bar get stuck before the message is sent; messages can take hours to go through or the message doesn't get sent at all. If this is you, try this fix:
Steps to reduce battery drain
Symptom: iOS 7 seems more power hungry than iOS 6. Here are a few specific tips that can help reduce battery drain.
- Turn off the 3D parallax effect: Settings --> General --> Accessibility --> Reduce Motion.
- Disable background app refresh for non-essential apps by going to Settings --> General --> Background App Refresh and toggling individual switches to off.
- Disable Notifications from apps you don't need by going to Settings --> Notification Center and deselecting the apps you don't want sending notifications. To stop an app from sending notifications, tap Edit and look for the three-line icon that appears to the right of the app. Select the app icon with a tap, press down and you can shift it from one list to the other.
- Turn off AirDrop: Toggle this to off using Control Center.
A tip to reduce keyboard lag
Symptom: There is a noticeable delay between text input using the virtual keyboard and its appearance onscreen.
This fix seems to work for some users: Go to Settings --> iCloud and turn off Documents & Data.
Another suggested repair is to navigate to Settings --> General --> Reset and then choose Reset All Settings.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth problems
Symptom: Some users have reported problems using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth after the iOS 7 update. These may appear grayed-out in Settings and won't toggle back on. Or if you do switch them on, they switch themselves off again.
A quick solution is to restart your iPhone and your Wi-Fi router. If this doesn't permanently fix the problem, additional suggestions from Apple's Discussion Forums include: Put the iPhone into Airplane mode and reset your network settings (go to Settings --> General --> Reset --> Reset Network Settings). After that's done, turn off Airplane mode.
Motion sickness (yes, motion sickness)
Symptom: There were early reports that some users experienced motion sickness symptoms while getting accustomed to iOS 7's new parallax effect. That's the effect that appears to make the background image move independently of the app icons floating on a different virtual plane. It's most noticeable when you tilt the device while looking at the home screen. (Note: Older devices like the iPhone 4 don't have this option.)
If you navigate to Settings --> General --> Accessibility, you can choose from several options that might help alleviate any motion sickness from iOS 7.
If iOS 7 is making you nauseous, you can minimize the parallax problem easily:
First, try the Accessibility options (navigate to Settings, then General to get to it) and select Reduce Motion.
If that's not enough, in the same place -- Accessibility -- you can select Increase Contrast to make text easier to read.
Finally, if you navigate to Settings and then choose Wallpapers & Brightness, make sure to choose a Stills image as your background wallpaper.
What to do if iTunes crashes or fails to launch
Symptom: Some users are finding the iTunes app fails to launch, or crashes when they try to open it.
Open the Music app and tap Store in the upper left corner. iTunes should open up. In the future, the app should launch correctly. (Some iOS 7 users have found that this problem creeps up again, so the fix may not be permanent.)
One potential cure for iTunes crashes is to make sure it's not open in the background (open the multi-tasking view and swipe the iTunes app to the top of the screen), then sign out and sign back in with your Apple ID.
The other suggested fix for iTunes issues is to log out and back in with your Apple ID:
Freezes and frozen start-ups
Symptom: If your device doesn't start up or suffers from unexpected freezing in normal use, these three basic steps should help.
You can first try a "hard" restart: Hold the power button and the Home button at the same time until the Apple logo appears and the device restarts.
You can restore the device, as already described above.
Or if your device gets stuck on the Apple logo and won't restart at all, connect your device to iTunes and restart it there. While the device starts up, continue to press the Home button until a dialog box appears in iTunes that says: "iTunes has detected a (device) in recovery mode. You must restore this (device) before it can be used with iTunes."
You then select the device in the left hand column of iTunes, choose Summary, then Restore.
Jonny Evans is a Computerworld blogger who has been writing about Apple since 1999.
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