Planning on upgrading to iOS 8 — or the iPhone 6, which is expected to launch next week? The following activities will make the process a lot easier, and you can start working on them ahead of Apple’s announcement on September 9. You may want to consider these steps even if you’re set on sticking with iOS 7.
Update your apps, iTunes and iOS 7
Last chance to update: If you are part of that last nine percent holding out on upgrading to iOS 7, you had better make up your mind if you ever want to upgrade. It is likely that the iPhone 4 will remain the only iPhone capable of upgrading to iOS 7 following the release of iOS 8, as it will be the only iOS device eligible to run iOS 7 that will not be eligible to run iOS 8. The iPhone 4S originally shipped with iOS 5 in 2011 and the iPhone 5 originally shipped with iOS 6 in 2012. So depending on when [company]Apple[/company] decides to officially launch iOS 8, the time you have left to update to iOS 7 is quickly coming to a close.
Archive your downloaded apps: If you do intend to keep running iOS 7 (or even iOS 6) on your device for a while longer, you may want to consider archiving your iTunes App Store purchases. Otherwise, your apps could be updated and rendered inoperable once iOS 8 comes out. Using the latest version of iTunes, create a new iTunes Library by holding down the option key on Mac or the shift key on [company]Microsoft[/company] Windows when launching. Then log into the iTunes Store and download all prior app purchases. Once completed, you will have an iTunes Library that you can keep separate from your main iTunes Library, with a “snapshot” of all of the currently working versions of apps you have purchased for your device. This tactic will only help in situations related to compatibility on the device directly and will not necessarily work when app developers make changes in the cloud. That being said, there are still a handful of useful apps that keep me hanging on to an old iPhone 3G running iPhone OS 3.1.3.
Take control of your backups
Manage iCloud backups: During the upgrade process you may be prompted to restore from a recent backup. That’s also the path you’ll be likely to take when you transfer your apps and data from an old device to a new one. The amount of time it takes to restore from an iCloud backup depends partly on the speed of your network and partly on the size of your backup. Other than deleting apps you no longer use on your device, there is something you can do to manage the size of your backup. From Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup > Manage Storage you can access the individual backups for each iOS device. Drilling into the specific backup for “This Device,” you can see how much space each app installed on the device will take the next time you perform a backup. From here, you can also select which apps you want to back up.
Offload your photos: One of the biggest space hogs on any iOS device is the Photo Album. Offloading your photos to a PC or Mac can make restoring from a backup or transitioning to a new device faster and easier. The easiest way to offload photos from your iOS device is to use the OS X Image Capture app on your Mac or Photo Gallery on PC. Once you have a copy of your photos on either your Mac or PC, you can then use Image Capture or Photo Gallery to delete them from your device. Ensure you have a copy of your photos before you delete.
Create a local backup: As convenient as iCloud backups are, having a local copy of your device backups is sometimes more practical. When it comes to accessing the contents of your device backups, consider using DigiDNA’s DiskAid or Macroplant’s iExplorer for both Mac and Windows. Both apps can copy your contacts, voicemail, call lists, music, movies and other data from your iOS device onto your Mac or PC as well as browse and extract files from your devices’ iTunes backups.
Shop around before you upgrade
Compare other carriers’ plans: – If you plan to upgrade to iOS 8 when you purchase a new iPhone 6, you may want to consider switching carriers as well. When you look at the costs of owning and operating a modern smartphone, the device itself is only a fraction of the total, especially if you’re on a family plan. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile have all recently revised their plans. Switching carriers when buying a new iPhone might be something to consider.
Keep track of your data usage: If you’re considering switching carriers, look at your current data usage. You can look at your monthly bill to see how much data you currently use and compare that to the plan you are considering switching to. You can start using an app like DataMan Pro ($4.99, iPhone) to track your data usage and set custom alerts based on the limits imposed by either the plan you are currently using, or the plan you are considering switching to. Another app to take a look at is OpenSignal (free, Universal). Its “Network Rank” feature will let you know which carrier is best suited for your needs in your local area.
Lock in a quote from an electronics reseller: If you are sure that you are going to upgrade to a new iPhone 6, now is the time to see how much you could get for your current smartphone. Compare prices from several different online trade-in and buy-back services, like Apple, Gazelle, uSell, Amazon and eBay. Check to see how long the amount you were quoted is valid. Gazelle, for example, honors its quoted values for thirty days. Just be sure to erase all content and settings and remove the SIM card before mailing in your old device.