Why people aren't upgrading to iOS 8

In the pre-amble to the iPad Air 2's launch, Apple made a dig at Android, showing that after 313 days, only 24 percent of users were running the latest version, KitKat.

By contrast, after only 26 days, almost half of iOS users were running iOS 8. That may sound impressive, and give Apple cause to gloat, but it's not half as impressive as the iOS 7 uptake.

At the iPad Air launch in 2013, Tim Cook stood up and said that iOS 7 represented "the fastest software upgrade in history". After five days, over 200 million devices were running iOS 7 and by the day of the iPad Air launch almost two-thirds of devices had been upgraded to iOS 7.

So why are users more reluctant to upgrade to iOS 8? There are two main reasons, plus a couple of others.

First, Apple says iOS 8 is the "biggest iOS release ever", but as far as the general public is concerned (well, almost half of iOS owners at least), none of the features are worth upgrading for. When you consider what's new, such as interactive notifications, Family Sharing, downloadable keyboards and the improved Photos app, they're not the kinds of things the average user would be particularly bothered about. They're power-user features.  

I have no idea what percentage of iOS users would consider themselves power users, but it's a safe bet that it's less than 50 percent. Those people will have upgraded already.

For a lot of people, it's easy to ignore the reminders to update. Whether they're ignorant of the new features, or they've already decided they don't want them enough to update, they're sending a pretty clear message that they're in no hurry to make the move to iOS 8.

For some, updating requires too much effort. Many people own devices with 16GB of storage or less, and don't have enough free space to update. Freeing up storage space by deleting apps, photos and videos is just too much hassle for little return.

Yet others have been burned in the past by an unacceptable drop in performance after updating, realising too late that you can't go back to the old version. They're not going to make the same mistake twice, and this could account for plenty of owners of older devices such as the iPad 2 and iPhone 4s, both of which were very popular.

Yet another reason for the slow uptake could be that people are waiting until they can actually use the new features in iOS 8. Developer additions such as HealthKit and HomeKit rely on third-party hardware which isn't available yet (aside from a handful of devices), and for the month or so after release, Mac users couldn't use Hand Off or other continuity features since Yosemite wasn't made available until the 16th October.

Plus, until iOS 8.1 was released on 20th October, it was arguably incomplete with plenty of early upgraders being confused by the absence of iCloud Photo Library and Camera Roll. Along with a few teething troubles that caused the Touch ID sensor to stop working and inability to make phone calls, it's entirely possible that some people were anticipating trouble and wanted to hold out until Apple had fixed them.

And let's not forget Android in all this. Why is the uptake to KitKat so small? The main reason is that it's simply not an option for most people. Unlike Apple, which designs both hardware and software, it isn't a simple process for manufacturers to update their overlays and tweaks for a new version for all their Android devices. At least if you buy an iPhone or iPad, you're guaranteed at least a couple of software updates, and you won't have to wait ages for them.

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