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.

66 Comments
  • How will all the bugs get ironed out if we all don't do our part and help report things. Sure, it will be messed up at first but it won't magically get better either. Sent from the iMore App
  • I disagree with the notion that we should do our part. We aren't beta testers. The developers should have paid staff that uses their apps, and makes sure they are ready to go live.
  • Right! Spoken like a man who happily walks past the trash on the ground because someone has to support the union janitors. Thanks for doing your part to make sure others are doing theirs, the lazy bums!
  • Or maybe he doesn't want to deal with a broken ass system without having a backup phone avaliable. Posted via iMore App
  • So are you a janitor. How is walking past garbage compared to not updating your phone. Not updating your phone only affects the personal user. Many people hold off on updating their phone until more bugs are ironed out or all the apps they use have been updated.
  • I apologize. I'm so confused. You replied to my comment like you know me, but you are way off base. That's not what I do, or how I feel. You need to fine tune your psychic powers or consult the entity that you channel, that gives you the confidence to spout prophetic ramblings based upon a forum post. Let me remind you. You don't know me. Yes, it is my responsibility to pick up trash in my yard, at the workplace, at the theater, park, ball field, etc. Which I do. If I purchase a meal from a restaurant, it is my responsibility to pay for my food. I should not have to shop for ingredients and prepare it also. Should I tell the chef to add more basil and use less pepper? The recipe has been fine tuned when it is put on the menu. My position remains the same. If I purchase an app, it is not my "responsibility" to find all the bugs in the software, for the good of all my fellow app users. If I encounter an issue, I will report it. Of course. But to suggest that it is my "responsibility" to rush and download an update to test it out, when the developer has had several months to work out the kinks, is ill-conceived.
  • I agree with TekNiKal! Apple is not Microsoft. Microsoft's business model is to have its customers do its beta testing for them and is why their products are half baked when delivered. If I pay a premium price, which I do for Apple products, I expect results and if I don't, I bellyache back at Apple until I get some sort of satisfaction.
  • The whole point of the beta versions of iOS8 is to allow developers to get ready. That's also why they release a GM version the week before to get more bugs out.
  • Nope. The biggest problem is, I MUST HAVE a jailbreak. I'm not going to update until the iOS 8 jailbreak is released and until most Cydia tweaks are updated to iOS 8 compatibility. Sent from the iMore App
  • That's a great point. I don't jailbreak my device so it wasn't an issue I was thinking about as I was writing this up, but I know that some folks do. I've added a jailbreaking bit, thanks for bringing it up.
  • No problem! Sent from the iMore App
  • Maybe this post should be titled "What you should know before you upgrade". Instead, of a "why you shouldn't".
  • Click bate is a real thing. Sent from the iMore App
  • So is click bait.
  • Sounds like a phishing expedition is on the way...
  • Waiting...as I do for each update that comes through. Yes reporting bugs is good, however 9 times out of 10 there's usually something pretty significant that makes people say 'Man I should've waited a week or so...' So I'll stay tuned to iMore and read all about it over this next week! ;)
  • Buzzkill. However, the precautions and reminders are appreciated, Peter.
  • I don't want to upgrade. I have the beta and didn't upgrade to the GM since they dropped a feature I use quite often. The ability to ask Siri what song is playing.
  • So, you gonna just squat with 7 until they turn out the lights like an XP user, or have you hacked the enhancement requests for the Siri team and had it inserted and escalated? If it's the latter, and you've got access to Apple's JIRA system, I say leak it brother and let the anarchy in! :-)
  • No, he's going to jailbreak Posted via iMore App
  • No one said anything about iOS 7. I have iOS 8 beta/dev version and skipped the GM as stated in my post. The said feature was removed, which I think was a great feature. I simply said I don't want to lose this feature.
  • Odd. I wiped my dev version of iOS 8 and installed the public release and they have brought back the feature I was thinking would be missing. I know it was dropped in the GM. Nice to have it.
  • My iPhone 5S experienced the Beta, and of course several major features including handoff are not yet available. The choice was to then downgrade back to iOS 7 and wait for the official release. While my iPhone 6 Plus is waiting to ship with iOS 8 installed, I'll mess around with the upgrade on my 5S for now. iCloud and a manual iTunes backup are already complete, in addition to my Dropbox photo upload.
  • I have an iPhone 5S and iPad Mini (1). I think there is enough in iOS8 that will have me upgrading. I think two of the biggest for me will be the handoff capability for calls/messages/etc between my devices and also things like widgets and interactive notifications. The notifications thing is not huge, but will be one of those things that simplifies the little things and over time, will save time. I'm just going to hold off for a bit and follow the "iOS 8 on iPhone 5S" threads for a bit......
  • "...iOS 8 isn't as major a change as iOS 8 was." Sent from the iMore App
  • "Except that trickle to become a torrent starting today." Expect, maybe?
  • Just a heads up, I have an iPhone 5s and a wifi iPad 3. Continuity works just fine on my iPad 3. I should note, however, I'm using iOS 8 GM. Maybe things will change with the official release of iOS 8, but for now, it's working. I'm able to make calls from my iPad 3, as well as answer them and then continue the conversation on my iPhone. I'm also able to receive and reply to SMS messages on my iPad.
  • I hope my 4s will work. Otherwise it would be really dissapointed and would have to get a six. Sent from the iMore App
  • Well for me i think its a good idea too update. i have the ipod 5 and i think it will be a great idea when it update in a few hours because we all need feautures
  • Every year I update the day of release and I have never had a problem. At least not one that made me regret updating.
  • Same here. I always upgrade on Day 1. I have both an iPhone 5 and an iPad Air, spending most of my mobile time on the Air. What I'll do is first upgrade the iPhone and see what happens. If that's all good then I'll do the iPad. I'm not understanding why iCloud Drive is such an issue until Yosemite hits. Apple should not allow its activation until Yosemite is installed on your Mac. Hmmm, maybe they are allowing for the fact that some people do not have an OSX device so that will be a non-issue for them.
  • I'm upgrading. I don't care what Peter Cohen says. I have been using iOS long enough to know the risks involved and I am willing to live with it. Both of my devices are still covered under warranty so if it doesn't work out. I will be going to the apple store to get it resolved.
  • Jailbreaking doesn't bother me and neather does Continuity since I don't have a Mac or iPad or even a compatible iPod. Roland
  • Waiting to buy the phone and now waiting to update your software. What a rebel!
  • The only thing That I don't realize, is iPhone 4S dosen't support Continuity!
  • Been running the beta of iOS 8 and Yosemite since July with only minor issues. I really love the new software! Don't see a reason not to update. I have yet to have an issue with my exchange systems at work, email, calendar, etc have all worked great! Sent from the iMore App
  • Peter Cohen or any others who can help answer this, I have a question in regards to iMessage/SMS messages with iphone and ipad. One point that I believe is not exactly clear is can a person with an iphone and ipad only use the feature for SMS between phone/tablet? Is a Mac computer running Yosemite necessary? Does this feature use Wifi or bluetooth for the transfer. Sorry, android person looking to move to an iphone and like notion of being able to use ipad if phone is not around to respond to message (imessage and or SMS from non-iphones).
  • To my knowledge, all that's needed is an iPhone running 8. I don't believe the Mac has to be in the equation. I'll look around. Posted via iMore App
  • I have been using both the iOS8 beta and Yosemite. The devices need to be on the same WiFi network, and have the same AppleID associated with them. Bluetooth is also used for the calls, devices other than the phone are using the speaker phone protocols. A Mac running Yosemite, on the same network will behave like any other iOS device, with SMS/iMessages and the phone calls just working.
  • I will be upgrading my iPhone 5, iPad mini 1, Wife's 5c and Dad's iPad air as soon as it hits the store! Sent from the iMore App
  • *I'll be commenting about how many Apple products I own for no reason* Posted via iMore App
  • Except for the app compatibility, these are all essentially non-issues. People who back up will back up, those who don't wont. The rest are "so what?" items - new features that the user won't have if they don't update but will once their other devices, if they have them, are also updated. And one specific comment: Continuity regarding email: You can do that RIGHT NOW: Save the message as a Draft, and then open it from the Drafts from ANY mail client, on any device regardless if it's iOS, Mac, Winodws, Linux, an installed client or a webmail. I've been doing that for two years.
  • Almost everything ios 8 is bringing to the table you can already do on some other platform.
  • And almost no one who uses a given platform really cares if people on another platform got something first, second, or last...
  • I don't even believe you believe what you just said. If that were true then platforms wouldn't evolve. Nothing is new. Everything is borrowed.
  • Huh. True, but iOS takes the time to make it more sharp by not rushing to get the new features on iOS. iOS is copying Android in some way, but iOS just makes every Android feature better. Sent from the iMore App
  • Lol ok dude. Understand I'm just as excited for ios 8 as the next guy. My 5s is glued to me. But I wouldn't go as far as you are with them making every android feature better lol. Too much Apple Juice flowing.
  • I am an Oracle DBA by profession and sometimes when we implement an upgrade no matter how much we test there is still something that goes wrong. We encourage our users to upgrade and let us know if there are any issues so those can be addressed. Long story short, I will follow my own advice here and upgrade to iOS8. If there are any problems, while it may be inconvenient for a few days I am confident those will be fixed.
  • i'm still using i phone 4, there's no way I could upgrade it. Eventhough I own an iPad mini, I'd rather not to update it, one slow device is more than enough
  • I am an Oracle DBA by profession and sometimes when we implement an upgrade no matter how much we test there is still something that goes wrong. We encourage our users to upgrade and let us know if there are any issues so those can be addressed. Long story short, I will follow my own advice here and upgrade to iOS8. If there are any problems, while it may be inconvenient for a few days but I am confident those will be fixed.
  • Ars is reporting other reasons 4S users might want to stay away: http://arstechnica.com/apple/2014/09/ios-8-on-the-iphone-4s-performance-... Sent from the iMore App
  • "Upgrading to iOS 8? Here's why you shouldn't...yet" Screw that! :-D Bleeding edge, baby. Bleeding edge.
  • Not sure I totally understand what happens if I upgrade to iCloud drive but don't have the Yosemite beta? Can I then NOT share a pages document between iPhone and my Mac? Sent from the iMore App
  • Ihave the exact same question. I'll be getting a new iPhone that will come with IOS8, but I have no intention of upgrading my MAC operating system (it won't handle it), Does that mean I can't use shared iWork docs like I am using now?
  • I am ready to jump in head first. May find some bugs along the way, but that's fine with me!
  • Hah- Wait- Really?????? You go on with your big bad self and delay the inevitable.
  • Great cautions, Peter. My wife is going to hold off their her iPhone 5C and iPad Air while I throw caution to the wind. We do this every OS update. First I will do my less used iPhone 5 and see how it goes and then my precious iPad Air. Is there an official time when the release is supposed to hit? It is Wednesday September 17 at 10:48 AM Eastern time in the USA and I don't see it yet.
  • Better Sent from the iMore App
  • Is it possible to downgrade IOS8 GM to IOS7? Sent from the iMore App
  • Too late because 20 minutes before now Apple dropped support for iOS 7.1.2. Sent from the iMore App
  • No Sent from the iMore App
  • I have yet to find one person in the wild who actually wants an update. It will "mess up my phone", "change my phone", "make it slow". Phone nerds scream for updates, regular people scream and run from them.
  • I am updating as soon as it is available. I back up regularly, so I'm not concerned with losing anything. Sent from the iMore App
  • I am pulling the trigger as I always have. I have never had major issues and I actually don't mind weeding bugs out. I actually don't use my phone as a phone much so I will probably keep my iPad on IOS 7 for now because I can survive on it if worst came to absolute worst for a couple of days until my new iPhone rolls in on Friday. I am installing on my old 4s. Sold my wife's 5 and she got my 5s so I went "Back to the Future" for a couple of days. As a side note, it's been interesting going from LTE to 3G.
  • Anyone else also stuck in endless circle of accepting new terms and conditions for App Store while trying to update app today? Sent from the iMore App
  • We Apple'ers LOVE bleeding edge. My IT department is BEGGING users to hold off. VPN apps not yet tested on the full version and haven't been verified, let alone the dozens of apps we use every day for IM, travel, video conferencing, etc. iCloud Drive likely won't be an issue for us Mac users since its against corporate policy to store data outside the company firewall.