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Apple iOS4 upgrade adds multitasking, folders... and pain

Should have gotten a backup app first

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

As usual, the latest Apple operating system upgrade is stranding quite a few unhappy users with broken machines. This time it's iOS4, which was released for some older iPhone models on Monday.

Apple's products often appeal to non-technical users and some are getting bitten when they try to upgrade. Whereas any half-competent techie would know to have at least a couple of backups before an operating system upgrade – and possibly a fallback plan, too – this hasn't occurred to some iPhone owners.

Reports are piling up on Apple's support forums of phones freezing during the upgrade process, newly-upgraded phones crashing, problems with apps such as the iPod one crashing, all entries disappearing from the Contacts app and the phone rebooting a few minutes into a phone call.

In many cases, the solution is a factory reset followed by re-syncing the phone, although some users have reported success by starting afresh and linking the phone to a previously-unused computer.

There are also some official issues with the new OS affecting users, such as the inability to handle wireless LANs whose top-level domain is ".local". (A similar problem affected SuSE Linux users a few years back – the .local TLD is used internally by multicast DNS, so you're probably better off taking Apple's suggestion and avoiding it.)

Some problems are hardly surprising given that Apple boasts over 225,000 different approved iPhone apps and that this is a significant upgrade, officially adding multitasking to the iPhone for the first time... and that's before considering the many unlocked or jailbroken phones.

Owners of the original, mark one iPhone have been left behind with this update, too, and some of them aren't best pleased by this, although at least one poster created a new account and started a thread just to say that he likes the new version and has had no problems at all. ®

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