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How to upgrade to iOS 8 (and downgrade to iOS 7 if you regret it)

Christopher Breen | Sept. 18, 2014
As summer winds down and autumn kicks in, it's time for another iOS update. And, just as predictably, a lot of iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch owners will want to make the leap from the previous operating system to the new one. If tradition holds, Apple will release iOS 8 at around 10 a.m. Pacific (1 p.m. Eastern) on Wednesday, and when it does, this guide will show you the way.

As summer winds down and autumn kicks in, it's time for another iOS update. And, just as predictably, a lot of iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch owners will want to make the leap from the previous operating system to the new one. If tradition holds, Apple will release iOS 8 at around 10 a.m. Pacific (1 p.m. Eastern) on Wednesday, and when it does, this guide will show you the way.

The limited path back

Because it comes as a surprise to a lot of people, it's important to know the following from the get-go: Once you update your device to iOS 8 there's very little chance that you'll be able to revert to a previous version. Apple stops "signing" (authorizing) older versions of iOS just days after releasing a new one. Reverting during this brief window is possible (and we'll explain how at the end of this story). But once that window closes, there's no going back.

For many, the jump from iOS 6 to iOS 7 was jarring because of iOS 7's new look. With regard to design, iOS 8 is more refinement than revolution. So if you're comfortable with the way iOS 7 looks and operates, you should have little problem with iOS 8's interface.

That said, as this is a brand-new version, there are likely to be glitches — some third-party apps may not yet be fully compatible with iOS 8, for example. For this reason you may wish to delay upgrading. Keep an eye on stories here and an ear open to friends, family, and colleagues who may have taken the step. When your key apps are updated, and you hear no complaints, it may then be time to upgrade.

Compatible devices

As excited as you may be to upgrade, make sure that the latest operating system will run on your device. Apple says the following are compatible with iOS 8:

iPhone: iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus

iPod touch: iPod touch 5th generation

iPad: iPad 2, iPad 3rd generation, iPad 4th generation, iPad Air, iPad mini, iPad mini with Retina display

Earlier iOS devices are incompatible with iOS 8. Some of the older devices that are compatible, such as the iPad 2 and iPhone 4s, may not support all of iOS 8's features or may perform less than optimally with it. (New operating systems can demand more of a device's processor and thus cause older devices to be less responsive.) With that in mind, if you have an iPad 2 or iPhone 4s, you may wish to delay upgrading until you've read reports of their performance under iOS 8.

 

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