Upgrading to iOS 8? Here's why you shouldn't...yet

Apple will release iOS 8 in a few short hours. Many of us will download it as soon as it's available, and millions more will reflexively install it as soon as a notification pops up on our iPhone or iPad. Here's my customary plea to wait. Let me explain why.

You may remember that I had the same advice for you last year. The advice stands, though not for the same reasons.

iOS 7 was a major upheaval: A different user experience for iOS. People using low-end devices found that the upgrade was a little too much for their systems to handle, and some of the new features broke compatibility with existing apps.

Even though iOS 8 isn't as major a change as iOS 7 was, there are still good reasons to wait. Here are a few:

You haven't backed up

If you haven't synced your iOS device to your Mac or PC, or if you haven't used iCloud Backup, please don't upgrade yet. Make sure you have a backup of your device before you install the upgrade.

If something goes wrong, and your phone is bricked or you have to restore it, you don't want to be put in a situation where you will lose precious information, family photos and other irreplaceable content.

Things will break

Sure, developers have had months to get their ducks in a row, and already we've seen updates to apps that list "improves compatibilility with iOS 8" (or some variation thereof) among their features. Expect that trickle to become a torrent starting today.

But there are still plenty of applications that won't work right, out of the gate (like Dropbox), and it's going to take some time for developers to find all those problems and iron them out.

Upgrading to iCloud Drive will cause headaches for Mac users and others

Upgrading to the new operating system will prompt you to convert your iCloud storage to iCloud Drive. iCloud Drive is terrific — Apple's making it easier than ever to share files in the cloud between Mac and iOS. But iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite are core requirements to use iCloud Drive. Yosemite isn't out yet, and likely won't be out until October.

Have a Mac or iOS devices that won't make the iOS 8 cut? You might want to punt on iCloud Drive, at least, until you've worked out how you're going to share files between them, or until they're all ready to handle the transition.

Upgrading to iOS 8 is a one way street

Let's say you upgrade to iOS 8 and immediately regret it, and want to go back to the way things were. Nuh-uh-uh. Upgrading iOS is a one-way street, as far as Apple is concerned. Once you've upgraded, there's no mechanism for downgrading to a previous iOS.

Apple allows devices running beta versions of iOS 8 to be downgraded to the official iOS 7 release — our own Ally Kazmucha outlined how to do it this past June — but that's going to stop as soon as iOS 8 is out in the world officially.

iPhone 4s, iPad 2 and iPad 3 users miss Continuity

Continuity disclaimer

Continuity is a new feature of iOS 8 that helps to make a seamless transition between using your Mac and using your iOS device. You can make phone calls from your Mac if your iPhone is nearby, for example. You can start an email on your iPhone and continue it on your Mac without skipping a beat.

Only one problem: Continuity doesn't work on the iPhone 4s or the iPad 2 or iPad 3. If you're using one of those devices and had hoped to see Continuity in action, you're out of luck. What's more, Continuity won't work until Yosemite is ready, and it's not. Yet.

Your IT staff may not be ready to support it

If you work for a business or organization that supports iOS devices, or one that has a "Bring Your Own Device" policy, and you're dependent on your iPhone or iPad to get work done, it's worth a call to your organization's help desk to find out what their official position is on iOS 8 support.

You may be setting yourself up for a world of hurt if you update your device only to find that crucial apps or services necessary for your job have stopped working, or that the folks supporting your device may not be ready to support the new software.

You're interested in jailbreaking

Some of us like to jailbreak our devices to customize them and have more total control over our devices than Apple allows. There are no jailbreaks for iOS 8 yet, so if that describes you, put off upgrading for now.

Are you ready to update?

In the end, you need to compare the advantages of having iOS 8 installed with the possible pitfalls you may encounter on the way. Obviously my advice isn't one-size-fits-all. If you've taken appropriate precautions and you're ready, willing and able to deal with first-day issues, then by all means update your device. But hopefully I've given at least a few of you food for thought to postpone upgrading until you're more ready.

Are you going to pull the trigger as soon as iOS 8 is available? Or are you going to wait? Let me know.

Peter Cohen