Color me something of a hybrid early adopter. I didn’t jump on the original iPhone in 2007 because I already had another smartphone and a contract. I didn’t jump on the original iPad in 2010 because, well, maybe I’d been burned by jumping too early onto new hardware a few times already.
So, I’m not a bleeding edge early adopter, but ever since Mac OS X Lion I’ve had few qualms about running the latest Mac OS on top of an old Mac OS, and that trend continues to this day. If it’s available, I’m running it. But I test it out on an older Mac first.
iPhone and iPad and iOS work almost the same way. I’ll upgrade each when the newest versions are available, but only since last year have I been a bit more bleeding edge and willing to try out the latest iOS when the Public Beta became available. That’s because the Mincey household has a few older iPads and iPhones lying around.
iOS 11’s Public Beta hit the digital streets on Tuesday and I went all in early adopter. On an older iPad. How old? I’m not sure, but my current iPad is an iPad Air 2, so that one might be an original iPad Air. Or, older. Whatever it is, it was easy enough to install iOS 11’s beta version during an early dinner.
As with every new version of iOS or macOS, older devices fall off the list of supported devices. While I had no trouble installing the newly released beta on my older iPad, I did have trouble using it. That’s the price you pay when you get closer and closer to the bleeding edge of technology.
iOS 11 is much different than iOS 10. Much. What’s different? At the top of the list:
- Finder-like Files app
- New Control Center
- Interface design elements
- Drag and Drop
- iPad Dock
The iOS Dock on the iPad looks and works much like the Dock on macOS Sierra. Drag and drop lets you drop app icons onto the Dock, and they resize as they do on the Mac. Sweet, right? Control Center has all kinds of new goodies and more options in Settings.
Interface design elements are notably different, too, but easily understood and easy to navigate. Siri sounds better; more human-like. That’s about where everything else went to hell in a hand basket.
If size matters, so does hardware. My old iPad can install iOS 11’s beta, but it does not run very well. There’s no split screen. Apps are sluggish to open and run; some won’t run at all, of course, and too many are crash happy. Navigation can be painfully slow and slower to watch. And wait. Split-view did not work, of course, and I had trouble with the Files app. Occasionally, iOS 11 beta would just lock up and not move at all and require a hard restart.
This is not unlike older iPhones of the past which could install the latest iOS version, but should not have been allowed to because performance was so, well, sluggish to the point of not being usable. Apple wants new OS versions to work on older hardware, but there is a usability limit.
Your mileage may vary, of course. Not all Apple hardware is created equal, so if you are daring and have a newer iPhone or iPad and you’re willing to take the risk, I would still encourage you to wait a few weeks for iOS 11 Public Beta updates to iron out more of the bugs. I’m not yet willing to put a newer beta version on newer hardware (mostly because I use the newer hardware and don’t want to risk a problem that could suck up a lot of unnecessary effort and time).
My first night with iOS 11 Public Beta was not a good one. I see the promise, though, and I will upgrade last year’s hardware later this year when the finished, polished, tested version hits the digital streets. Otherwise, caveat emptor applies, even if there’s no price tag.