Apple puts iOS 9 upgrade on diet plan to avoid repeating '14 fiasco

Wants to avoid last year's debacle, when some iPhone owners had to delete content and apps to install iOS 8

iOS 9
Credit: Apple

Apple yesterday promised that the iOS 9 upgrade would not repeat the debacle of last year, when owners of iPhones and iPads with small storage allotments were unable to easily install the new operating system.

"We've been able to reduce the amount of free space you need to get to iOS 9, from the 4.6 gigs [gigabytes] that it took to get to iOS 8 down to 1.8 gigs. So everyone is going to get iOS 9," Craig Federighi, who heads OS X and iOS development, said during Monday's long-and-often-wandering WWDC keynote.

The reduced free space requirement -- a decrease of 72% -- should eliminate, or at least significantly mitigate, the problems many iPhone and iPad owners had in 2014 installing iOS 8.

Then, the free-space requirement for installation -- at least 5GB and up to 7GB -- forced many owners of 8GB and 16GB iPhones to delete content, including precious apps and photos, before upgrading.

While a workaround existed -- upgrade after connecting the iPhone to a Windows PC or Mac that had the latest version of iTunes -- many users didn't even know that option was available because Apple had relied on over-the-air updates since 2011.

The size barrier, as well as a heavily publicized snafu in iOS 8.0.1 that crippled new iPhones by killing their connections to carrier networks, were cited as possible reasons why iOS 8's uptake was initially much more sluggish than previous editions.

For whatever reason, iOS 8's adoption has never recovered: According to mobile analytics company Mixpanel, iOS 8 powered 87% of all iPhones and iPads as of June 8. On the same date in 2014, iOS 7 ran 92% of all Apple mobile devices.

iOS 9, which was handed to registered developers Monday, will release this fall, most likely during the week of Sept. 14. Those willing to test early builds must sign up at Apple's beta site. Yesterday, Federighi said that the public beta of iOS 9 would appear next month.

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