Some users face problems upgrading to iOS 5

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Any day there’s a major operating system update always contains some excitement, but Wednesday’s iOS 5 release contained more surprises than some iPhone and iPad users might have hoped for. Based on reports from around the Internet—Twitter messages, posts on Apple’s forums, email sent to—some users have run into difficulty getting Apple’s iOS update to install on their mobile devices.

It’s impossible, of course, to get a read on just how widespread iOS 5 installations problems were on Wednesday. Certainly, some Macworld editors were able to upgrade their iOS devices on Wednesday without much difficulty, particularly in the afternoon after the initial crush of iOS 5 updates subsided. Still, the volume of complaints about iOS 5 update issues seemed higher than what one might normally expect from a major software upgrade.

Macworld contributor Joel Mathis’s case seems typical of the problems other users were reporting on Wednesday: He downloaded the iOS 5 updates, aimed to install them on his iPhone and iPad, and at the restoring stage, iTunes repeatedly failed. “The iPad ‘Joel’s iPad’ could not be restored. An internal error occurred,” iTunes told him again and again. Mathis even went as far as completely resetting his iPad’s settings to see if that would help. It didn’t.

Some iOS device owners ran into messages like these when trying to install iOS 5 Wednesday.

It’s not an isolated case: My mother saw the same error, as did I, with my iPod touch. When I mentioned the problem on Twitter, Macworld senior contributor Rob Griffiths pointed out at least eight other folks suffering from similar issues.

We’ve put in a call to Apple to see if the company was aware of issues people may be having with the iOS 5 upgrade; the company hasn’t responded to that request yet.

Apple certainly had a lot on its plate Wednesday. In addition to releasing iOS 5, the company also released iCloud as well as three new iOS apps. It also updated several existing iOS and Mac apps, released Mac OS X 10.7.2 and Safari 5.1.1, and even updated the firmware for its Apple TV set-top box. That’s a lot of software to be pushing live at once, even for a company Apple’s size.

Wednesday’s woes might conjure up memories for some iOS users of 2008’s iPhone 3G launch. In addition to introducing a new phone on July 11 of that year, Apple also rolled out a mobile operating system update and launched its rebranded MobileMe service. Activation delays marred the iPhone 3G launch, while MobileMe’s debut was marked by so many glitches, the company wound up offering subscribers a free 60-day extension to make up for the problems they encountered.

If you’ve run into problems installing iOS 5—or if you’ve managed to upgrade to the new operating system without a problem—let us know about your experiences in the comments.

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At a Glance
  • We've not yet met the iOS update that we wouldn't recommend, and iOS 5 is certainly the most far-reaching and feature-rich upgrade to date. That said, it's not without its bugs and strange behaviors. But it's clearly paving ground for a lot of key functionality in the future, and even a lack of polish shouldn't keep you from upgrading.


    • Finally makes iOS devices viable without computer
    • Notification system is vastly improved
    • Massive update plugs many feature holes


    • Reminders app missing logical features
    • Lack of dictation on older hardware disappointing
    • Twitter integration buggy in places
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