Despite all the hype, Apple’s new iOS 9 software is surprisingly polarizing so far. Plenty of Apple fans seem to love all the new features Apple introduced during its WWDC 2015 keynote earlier this week — we previewed the 5 best new iOS 9 features that same day, if you’d like to check out the abridged version. Other users haven’t been so impressed though, and they claim that iOS 9 is a minor update that steals most of its features from other platforms, namely Android.
Personally, my thoughts align much more closely with the former camp than the latter. iOS 9 is a big update, and it brings with it a number of great new features. It also brings some refinement to a mobile platform that is already the most refined in the world.
As much as I like iOS 9, however, I just uninstalled it from my iPhone 6 after using it for less than a day.
First things first: before we dive any deeper, it’s important to note that iOS 9 is currently an early beta. A very, very early beta. For the time being, the software is intended for use by developers only, and it should be installed only on test devices, never on personal devices.
That said, Apple’s developer program is set up in such a way that anyone willing to pay $99 per year can sign up for an account and gain access to iOS beta software. Beyond that, there are now tricks that let people install iOS betas without even having a developer account.
As such, I feel that a warning is in order: You probably shouldn’t install iOS 9 beta 1.
In the context of iOS betas, the first beta version of iOS 9 is very stable. Shockingly stable, as a matter of fact. Apple rushed the first iOS 8 beta out the door last year and it was a complete mess. In fact, it wasn’t even until the third or fourth iOS 8 beta that things started to really shape up.
This year, however, the first iOS 9 beta is actually in a state that is absolutely ready for prime time… where developers are concerned.
For end users, it’s a completely different story. Apps will crash — though not nearly as frequently as they did on early betas last year — and things will generally go haywire from time to time. For me though, the deal-breaker was battery life.
Battery life has never been great in Apple’s iPhones because the company strives to make its phones as thin and light as possible. For better or worse, this isn’t going to change anytime soon. In iOS 9, however, the company has introduced a number of optimizations and one smart but simple trick that will extend an iPhone’s battery life by an hour.
That’s great news, though I have to wonder how Apple arrived at the one-hour figure considering how terrible battery life is in the current beta.
Plenty of people who have installed the beta are experiencing big hits when it comes to battery life. My iPhone 6 dropped from 100% to 20% in about five hours, which is obviously unacceptable on a personal phone. Because of my job, I always run beta software so that I have access to upcoming new features. But even I couldn’t make myself stick with iOS 9.
Again, this is not a critique of iOS 9 or of Apple. This is a warning. It’s now easier than ever for anyone to install iOS beta software and tens of thousands of end users have likely installed iOS 9 beta 1 already.
iOS 9 may very well render your favorite apps or even your entire phone unusable, and rolling back to an earlier version of iOS could lead to problems, especially if you’ve used trickery to install the beta.
My advice? If you absolutely need to install iOS 9 before it’s released to the public, sign up for Apple’s official beta program. You’ll gain access to the pre-release software sometime next month, and it will be in a state that is far more suitable for use on a personal phone.
Until then, you’ll sit tight if you’re smart. If you’ve already installed it, you can back up to iCloud or with iTunes and then restore with iOS 8.3 or the latest iOS 8.4 beta, which is much better suited for public consumption.