As part of the company’s recent iPhone 5S debut, Apple also rolled out the latest version of its operating system, iOS 7. Unlike the physical phone hardware, or the software apps designed to perform specific tasks, the operating system (OS) works “under the hood,” determining how the screen looks, how the apps are run, and even the details that determine how fast the battery will die.
Most operating systems are designated with a higher number at each major upgrade (e.g. iOS 6 was just upgraded to iOS 7), but for Google’s Android OS, each new version is curiously named after a food product. Jelly Bean is the latest commercially available version.
While it’s generally fine to stick with the OS version that came with your phone, there are benefits and trade-offs associated with most upgrades. A cool new feature may use up your battery faster or some niche market apps may not work as well on a new OS. So if you use an iPhone 5 or an earlier model, should you upgrade to iOS 7 or just wait until you replace the phone?
iOS 7’s Test Drive
Pfeiffer Consulting recently performed a benchmark test comparing Apple’s iOS 7 to the most common operating systems: iOS 6, Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry. In addition to a total score ranking, Pfeiffer also compared the systems on several specific performance measures. This is valuable because we all use our phones differently, and a few specific measures may be more important than an overall score for users wishing to perform unique tasks.
According to the benchmark test, iOS 7 narrowly edged out iOS 6 in the overall score, distantly followed by Android, Blackberry, and Windows Phone in third, fourth, and fifth places respectively.
On the individual measures, iOS 6 outperformed iOS 7 and all of the others on simplicity measures (cognitive load and user experience friction). The Android system took the top score for customization, but iOS 7 scored at the top for all other measures.
But Wait . . .
The answer to the question of whether or not to upgrade is pretty clear. iOS 7 will serve most users better than iOS 6. However, as with any major upgrade to an OS, it’s generally not a good idea to be among the earliest adopters. Invariably, within the first month or so of an OS launch, there will be a number of small patches and fixes made. So, for the smoothest upgrade, skip version 7.00 and wait a few weeks until version 7.02 comes around.
Tags: Apple Products