A day later: iOS5 and iCloud – Update Problem

This week saw the launch of iOS5, and its big new feature, the iCloud. This update has become available for owners of older iPhone and iPod models just a day before the launch of the new iPhone 4S on contract. There has been so much demand for iOS5 that Apple’s computers have been overloaded, causing many iPhone owners to have to make up to 30 attempts at upgrading!

So if you are still attempting to make your upgrade, we take another look at the new OS and its cloud computing setup, to see if they have so far lived up to their promises, and to see what you can expect to enjoy when you finally succeed with the update!

Apple promises “It just works”, and that tallied with most iPhone users’ experience. All those features that they might have struggled to operate on another smartphone, if they could even figure out what menu to open to get the feature started in the first place, just seemed to work, on an iPhone. Till yesterday. Talk to anyone who tried to download iOS5 yesterday, and chances are it took them several attempts.

iOS5 iCloud Update Problem

More worryingly at the time, they were generally given an error message proclaiming that their iPhones “could not be restored”. This is not a great way to build confidence in iOS5. This is, in fact, a great way to bring users to the edge of panic, as they wonder whether the update process has somehow got as far as wiping all their data – in a way that “could not be restored” – then abandoning their phone to worthlessness afterwards.

Fortunately, it was just an error message, and like most such messages did not have much of a connection with the actual error, which was caused simply by high traffic, as tens of thousands of Apple customers attempted to download iOS5 simultaneously. For some users, it took many hours, and repeated attempts, before they had a working version of iOS5. This is all quite embarrassing for Apple. It’s not like they don’t have enough sales data to be able to work out how many users are likely to want the new OS on launch day. Even the IT industry reporters of the UK’s “The Register” webzine struggled to get their iPhone fully updated, taking an hour to download and install iOS5.

This could well illustrate a greater problem with iCloud in general, given that its traffic levels will certainly fluctuate, and given how pointless is a smartphone with no data (because everything you used to store on your phone is now on the Cloud). As we mentioned yesterday, cloud computing has its disadvantages. Yes, your data is stored elsewhere, so you don’t need to clog your smartphone up with it… but your data is stored elsewhere, and if anything interrupts or slows down your attempt to access it when you need it, you could find things highly inconvenient!

Still, once users got their iOS5 installed – sometimes after up to 10 attempts – they could start enjoying the benefits of the new OS, and the full access to iCloud, finally out of beta-testing. Security holes have been plugged with iOS5, notably regarding the hacked website security certificates that emerged in the DigiNotar hack this summer. The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple’s developers are in talks with major film studios so as to work out a deal whereby users can stream movies directly onto their smartphone or tablet, but it remains to be seen whether they reach an agreement. The iPad and iPhone phone deals might both get even more popular once you can buy a movie online and watch it instantly, without even needing to download it onto memory.

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