Should I iOS 12?

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Should I iOS 12? a reader asks…

I have an iPhone 7 and my husband has an iPhone 6s. We also each have iPads (mine is a mini2, his is an air2). We also both have Apple Watches (series 2 & 3). So yes, we’re sort of all-in on Apple. My question is, should we update to iOS 12 (released on Monday the 17th)? Or should we wait?

My general advice is for most consumers to update their technology at the earliest opportunity. The reason is that updates and upgrades to operating systems, apps and software programs almost always include security updates. Since security vulnerabilities are such a big risk for us, delaying getting these important updates can leave you open to being hacked, identity theft, and loss of your personal data.

That said, there are minor updates and major updates. The above guidance is perfectly suited to minor updates. Major updates might bring with them some potential instability. For Apple product users, I generally suggest that they wait a few weeks to a few months from when a new operating system major version is released before they upgrade their computers and devices.

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That way if any bugs are discovered by early adopters (and we always find bugs), Apple has a chance to squash them before too many people have a negative experience with updating/upgrading. You don’t mention using Apple Macs, but if you use a Mac, iMac or Macbook, you might want to wait a month or so before upgrading your Mac to macOS Mojave (version 10.14, available Sept. 24th 2018). Each major release of macOS has brought with it some issues and problems for some users, and you are probably going to be better off waiting a bit.

In the case of iOS 12 (and watchOS 5), the rationale of waiting for bug fixes is of a bit less concern. We know that Apple has been very focused on stability and speed with this update, which seems to have been somewhat neglected in iOS versions 10 and 11. While there are still new features coming out in the new versions, they are much less important to most of us consumers than making our iPhones, iPads and watches work faster and be more stable and reliable.

I updated my iPhone X to iOS 12 on the day it was released, and my Series 3 watch to watchOS 5, and experienced no problems. I also have some older iPhones hanging around and updated those as well. My iPhone 6 seemed a lot zippier than it did before the update, and so did my iPhone 7. I no longer have a Series 2 watch, but my Series 3 watch also seems to work faster and more smoothly after the update to watchOS 5. I know that’s not a lot of data points upon which to base a decision, but looking across the various internet forums and discussion areas relating to iOS and watchOS, it seems like the roll-out of the new versions seems to be going quite smoothly. iOS 12 is compatible all the way back to the iPhone 5s, the iPad mini2 and Air, and the Apple Watch Series 1 and newer. So all your devices are well within the upgrade window.

When you update your iPhones and iPads to iOS 12, you’ll finish the upgrade process by turning on auto-update (yes, just choose that option), and turning on weekly reports about screen time usage. You may also be prompted to update your carrier settings. The whole iOS 12 update process only took about 15 minutes each on my various iPhones, way faster than all previous iOS version updates before.

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Once you’ve updated your iPhone to iOS 12, you can (and should) update your watch to watchOS 5. That update took a bit longer for me, but it was well worth it. For this update, put your watch on the charger. After the update, my Apple Watch operated snappier, and there are several sorely-needed new features I was glad to see. More on that in a moment…

Of course, in addition to the improvements in stability and speed, there are new features to consider! For your iPhones and iPads, a huge new feature is Facetime with groups. Formerly Facetime was a relegated to one-to-one video chat, now you can chat with up to 32 people. I used to use Google Hangouts, but now only need that when dealing with the few of my friends & family who don’t use Apple smartphones and tablets. You also get new Animoji and can create your own animoji (based on your face), better notification control and better control over your Do Not Disturb setting. And  yes, there are plenty of other new features – you can read all about them at https://www.apple.com/ios/ios-12/.

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For WatchOS 5, there’s a huge new feature I quickly found indispensable: walkie-talkie. This allows me and my wife to have quick conversations without the hassle of a cellular phone call. Often when one of us is driving, text messaging isn’t good, and calling a number only marginally better (thanks Siri, I hope you get better at this soon!). With the walkie-talkie function, we can easily chat with each other, with minimal interruption. We both found it easy to tap the feature while driving and then carrying on a short conversation that would’ve normally been a series of iMessage texts back and forth. Much less distracting to the driver even though you have to keep a finger on the watch face when talking.

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Huge improvements in watchOS 5 are also inside revamped Workouts functions. You can now compete with friends/family, and there’s now automatic workout detection (Fitbit’s had these features for ages). Plus there are some new workouts and better information showing on running workouts (wish there were also for walking workouts). There are also improvements to Notifications, Siri (which I haven’t really tested yet), and podcasts. You can read all about the new features of watchOS 5 at https://www.apple.com/watchos/watchos-5/.

So yes, I’d suggest you update your iPhones, iPads and Watches to the latest iOS/watchOS version sooner rather than later. Just remember to have a little patience, millions of other Apple customers are doing likewise, so the downloads may take longer. Personally, I started them all off just before bedtime and let the updates run overnight. By morning, all my devices were ready to go with the new features (and worked quite a bit speedier I might add!). The only delay were the watches, which had to have their connected iPhones first updated to iOS 12 before you could update to watchOS 5. Not a big deal, but something to plan for in case you’re heading out the door and want to wear your Apple Watch.

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