If there was ever a good time to spring clean your iOS devices, this weekend would be it.
First of all, the week started out with world backup day on Monday. Just last week Apple reported that 85 percent of devices are now running iOS 7 but by my count 49 percent of apps in the app store have not been updated yet. Within just 72 hours of its release, 18 percent of devices jumped on to the 7.1 update. Perhaps they were looking for a little crash relief. That, and it is spring after all.
If you did update to the latest iOS version, and are still experiencing some difficulties that none of your attempts to reset your device have remedied? Then perhaps it is time for a fresh start.
Getting stuff off your device
Photos and videos – Before you start erasing and resetting your device, it is always a good idea to copy your photos and videos off of the device first. On OS X you can use iPhoto, Aperture or the Image Capture utility to safely remove your photos. On Windows you can use Windows Explorer or the Windows Photo Gallery. This takes care of items in your Camera Roll, but what about all your other files?
iTunes File Sharing – Apps that you use on your device may allow you to access their content by through File Sharing from within iTunes on your Mac or PC. Simply attach your device via USB, launch iTunes and click on the Apps tab associated with your device. On the bottom of the screen you will see a section titled File Sharing. Here you can select each app one at a time and manually offload all of their shared content.
Third-party tools – As for all of the other stuff you may want to copy off of your device, consider using either Ecamm’s PhoneView for OS X, DigiDNA’s DiskAid for OS X or Macroplant’s iExplorer for both OS X and Windows. All three apps can copy your contacts, voicemail, call lists, music, movies, and other data on your iOS device onto your Mac. Using such an app was how I have been able to backup and restore my Minecraft worlds.
iCloud and iTunes backups – It is also a good idea to perform one final backup before you start over. With iCloud backups you can perform your backups from almost anywhere. Unfortunately you cannot access the backup files. When you perform a backup using iTunes, the backup files are stored locally on your Mac or PC. Using tools like addPod’s JuicePhone for OS X, or Macroplant’s iExplorer (mentioned above), you can browse and extract files from your devices’ iTunes backups.
Erase all content and settings
Don’t restore from backup – To truly start over fresh, after performing the Erase all Content and Settings operation from within the General settings, you would not restore from either an iCloud or iTunes backup. Instead you will set up your iOS device as a new device. Just keep in mind that this will remove all data from all apps as well as the apps themselves.
Choose a different device name – In order to keep a lifeline to the backups you have stored in iCloud, you will need to name your device differently. This can be done on the device from within the About section of theGeneral settings on the device. If you name your device the same name as it was before, then you will likely overwrite your previous backup. Sometimes it is a good idea to retain a backup for a few days following a reset. Keeping multiple backups however does come at a cost, and that cost is iCloud storage space.
Review your iCloud storage – All iCloud accounts come with 5GB of storage space for free. To check how much space you are currently using go to the iCloud section of the settings and tap on Storage & Backup for iOS, if you are on OS X click on the Manage button from within the iCloud settings of the System Preferences, then Manage, and finally for Windows launch the iCloud Control Panel app in order to click on the Manage button. What you will see in addition to how much space your backups take is how much space other apps are using. For any apps that you are absolutely sure you will not be using anymore, you can remove their data from iCloud.
Replacing old apps with new ones
Apps not on this device – Within the App Store on iOS, you can access all of your prior purchases from theUpdate tab. By scrolling down, you will reveal a search bar at the top of the screen that you can use to search your list of purchased apps. Searching within the purchased apps section of the iOS app store is limited to the name of the app only. Not the developer’s name, not any keywords that the developer has set, and certainly not the description. Once you find the app you are looking for you can download it onto your device by tapping on the cloud with an arrow pointing through it.
Hide the bad apps – As you begin to add apps back onto your device, you may come across a few apps that you regret purchasing, and have vowed that you would never install again. For such apps, you can hide them from your previous purchase list. You will first need to log on to your account from either the Mac or PC version of iTunes. Then go to the Purchases section of the iTunes Store and select the Apps tab. Mouse over the icon of the app you want to hide and click on the little “X” in the top left corner. This is of course reversible from within your account settings, just in case you suffer from ‘hiders’ remorse.
Version history and reviews – Before you rush to add your old apps back on to your device, consider looking at how often your favorite apps have been updated. At the bottom of the app’s description you will see a section titled Version History. If the app has not been updated in the last year, check the recent reviews and see if anyone has been having issues with the app on iOS 7. It may surprise you how many apps have fall into this category. Of the 2,313 apps in my personal iTunes library, only 1,176 have been updated since iOS 7 was launched. And Looking at data from 148apps.biz, 383,602 of the 1,539,342 apps that have been available on the app store are no longer active.
Becoming an app shopping genius – With the announcement of iOS 7 in June of last year, Apple pulled the Genius feature from the app store. A feature that attempted in part to find apps similar to the ones you already own. What you can do instead is take a look at the Related tab within the apps description on the store. If that does not produce a list of comparable apps worth trying, you can turn to online services like AppShopper,AppAdvice and apptap to help find a good replacement for your outdated app. Even with their help, app discovery is still a big problem facing the App Store.