How to upgrade to iOS 7

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iOS 7 arrives today, and eager users everywhere are getting ready to upgrade their devices. If you’re concerned about the upgrade process, or if you simply want to know all your setup options before making the big switch, let us help you upgrade your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad to iOS 7 with this step-by-step guide.

What devices will run iOS 7?

Before you consider upgrading, you must make sure that you have a compatible device. Since iOS 7 packs some new features and a graphics-heavy new design that require serious processing power, Apple has limited the operating system to the following models.

iPHONE MODELS: iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s
iPAD MODELS: Second-, third-, and fourth-generation iPad or later; iPad mini
iPOD TOUCH MODELS: Fifth-generation iPod touch (16GB, 32GB, and 64GB)

If you have an earlier model of any of these products, you’ll have to stick with your current version of iOS.

Missing iOS 7 Features

While certain older devices can run iOS 7, they may not be able to take advantage of all the iOS features available on a new iPhone or iPad. Specifically, here’s what you can expect to miss if you’re using a device that’s older than the models listed.

Touch ID: iPhone 5s
iCloud: iPhone 3GS or later, first-generation iPad or later, third-generation iPod touch
Slo-Mo: iPhone 5s
Burst Mode: iPhone 5s
Auto Image Stabilization: iPhone 5s
Video 3x Zoom: iPhone 5s
Panorama: iPhone 4S or later, fifth-generation iPod touch
Square and video formats: iPhone 4 or later, third-generation iPad or later, fifth-generation iPod touch
In-camera filters: iPhone 5 or later, fifth-generation iPod touch
Photos app filters: iPhone 4 or later, third-generation iPad or later, fifth-generation iPod touch
AirDrop (requires iCloud): iPhone 5 or later, fourth-generation iPad or later, fifth-generation iPod touch
FaceTime over cellular: iPhone 4S or later, third-generation iPad or later, fifth-generation iPod touch
Siri: iPhone 4S or later, third-generation iPad or later, fifth-generation iPod touch; requires Internet access
Maps flyover and turn-by-turn directions: iPhone 4S or later, iPad 2 or later, fifth-generation iPod touch

Prepare to install

Once you’ve double-checked that your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad is capable of running iOS 7, you need to decide how to install the OS. If you plan to install wirelessly, confirm that you have an available Wi-Fi connection; if you intend to install via iTunes, you need your computer and the latest version of iTunes. (If you don’t have it, you can download it from Apple’s website.)

We also suggest that you make a backup of your device before proceeding: If you’re doing a straight update, a backup prevents you from losing data in case something goes wonky down the line; if you’re doing a full restore of your device before you install iOS 7, you’ll need a recent backup to recover your information.

Back up via your computer

To make a backup using your computer, you can go through iTunes. Just plug your device into your computer (or use the Wi-Fi Sync option) and open iTunes.

Once the program is open, click the Devices button, select your device, and scroll down in the summary section to Backups. There, under ‘Manually Back Up and Restore’, click Back Up Now.

Back up via your device

To make a wireless backup directly from your device, you need an iCloud account. Once you’re logged in to iCloud, make sure your device is connected to a Wi-Fi network—you can’t create a backup over a cellular network.

COPY TO THE CLOUD: If you have an iCloud account, you can back up your device wirelessly.

After you’ve done so, just go to Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup, turn on the iCloud Backup toggle, and tap Back Up Now.

Turn to page two to read about upgrading to iOS 7.

At a Glance
  • iOS 7 sports a revolutionary new design, under-the-hood features like Control Center and card-based multitasking, and app updates.


    • Extensive, eye-catching redesign
    • Control Center gives quick access to frequent features
    • More extensive multitasking capabilities


    • Minor bugs are not uncommon
    • AirDrop feature lacks Mac compatibility
    • iPad version feels uneven, sluggish
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