iOS 8 is Apple's new operating system for the iPad or iPhone, released in Fall 2014. On new devices, iOS8 offers some exciting new features, and many apps are updating to take advantage of them.
Which iPads and iPhones Should Upgrade to iOS 8?
But iOS 8 is not for everyone. If you have an iPad 1, or any iPhone older than the 4S, your device doesn't support it and it won't be offered to you. iOS8 needs more processing power than these older devices have, so you'll be staying on iOS7 (or even iOS6 on the original iPad).
You Should Accept iOS8 on These iPads and iPhones
The iPad 3 (retina display) and later iPads (iPad 4, iPad Air, iPad Air2), and both iPad Mini tablets have the processing power to be able to run iOS8 just fine. The iPhone model series 5 and 6 work well with it, and iOS 8 is designed to give these phones some valuable new capabilities.
You May Want iOS 8 on the iPad 2 or iPhone 4S
When iOS 8 was initially released, we recommended against upgrading the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S. These devices have older processors and iOS 8 caused them to be quite sluggish. Apple listened, and has released a couple of upgrades that fix a lot of the issues. At this writing, the current iOS release is 8.1.2.
It's your choice. My recommendation is to review the videos for iOS 8 (and make sure you note which features aren't available in older devices. It's easy to upgrade, but not so easy to go back, so if you're on an older device you may want to take a cautious approach.
How to Upgrade Your iPad or iPhone
If you have an iPad or iPhone that can run iOS 8, you'll find the offer in your Settings control, in the General area. If the offer is there, there will be a 1 to notify you that you have one thing to upgrade.
Back Up Your Device
If something goes wrong, you don't want to lose your contacts, settings, and apps, so first, back up your device, either over the air or by connecting it to the iTunes you used to set it up. Here are Apple's simple instructions for backing up to iCloud.
Freeing Up Space
While iOS 8 will take only about 1 GB once it's installed, the installation process over the air (aka "OTA") requires about 5 GB of free space. You may not have that much on your device, especially if you have a lot of pictures and music.If you're going to use a computer with iTunes to do the update, it doesn't need that massive amount of free space.
If you do want to free up some space, you can go into your Settings > General > Usage on your iPhone or iPad and see what's occupying space.
I figured that my iPhone's storage was mostly pictures and music, but it turns out that Podcasts and the the video courses I had from iTunes U were occupying 3 GB of storage. I don't need to have them on my device all the time -- they're free and I can re-download what I want after the device is upgraded and the extra free memory is no longer required.
If you have a lot of pictures, and you're connecting to a computer with iTunes, you can drag the pictures from the device to the computer, and then delete them from the device. If you already have your music in your iTunes library, you can remove it from your device and add it back after the update,
If you don't connect to iTunes on a computer, you can back up your photos to iCloud, and/or to Dropbox and then delete them from your device once you have. I'm a believer that you can never have too many backups, so maybe back them up to iCloud AND Dropbox. If you want to delete apps, books, or music that you've bought from Amazon or iTunes, you still own them, so you can get them back after you've upgraded.
The Upgrade Process
If you have a computer running iTunes, and if you have used it before to set up and sync the device you're going to update, then you don't have to worry about freeing space. Otherwise, you can update it over the air.
Most important -- plug your iPad or iPhone into its charger for the entire update process.
Also, use a stable high-speed Internet connection for the update. You don't want to be using the free WiFi at MacDonalds for this, and you don't want to download a 1GB update package over cellular wifi -- the connection could drop mid-download forcing you to start over, and depending on your plan, the cost could eat up most of your bandwidth allowance. Find a library, school, or local business who will let you use their WiFi for the update.
If you hear people say "oh, it has to be a super-fast connection," that's not true. You want it to be a stable connection -- in other words, so that it does not drop out or glitch during the download. Plan to stay awhile if you're away from home -- the download could take up to 45 minutes or so if you have a slow 4MB connection, and then it will unpack, install, and reboot the device a couple of times before it's done.
If you have questions about updating to iOS, or anything else we've discussed, please feel free to post them in the comments and we'll try to answer. If you're a Games4TV member with Talk4TV, you should see the comment form below. If you don't, scroll to the bottom and log in. If you haven't yet activated your Talk4TV, it's free for all Games4TV members. And if you're not a member, what not join us?