To upgrade or not to upgrade, that is the question…

Uncategorized Sep 13, 2022

As an Apple consultant for 20 years I have seen it all. I have seen technophiles who purchase every Apple product before they even know what to do with them, and have stacks of iPads, iPhones, iPads and more in every room… and I have seen technophobes who hold onto the same piece of equipment for a decade or more.

But the most concerning issue that I see time and time again with many Apple users is the unjustified fear of upgrading.  They see the red update notification on their devices and wonder what new thing Apple is going to add or change on their devices that is going to mess everything up…

iOS 6 with its Skeuomorphic style - iOS 7 with its updated Flat style

I can track down the origin of this fear of upgrading all the way back to the iPhone iOS 7 upgrade in 2013. This was a challenging time for Apple. One of the iPhone’s original software designers, Scott Forstall had screwed up royally with the initial release of Apple Maps, and Steve Jobs needed someone to take the fall. So Scott was unceremoniously fired, and infamous Apple designer Johnny Ives was brought in once again to save the day.

But there was a problem… Forstall had favored a design style called Skeumorphism with the iPhone.  It was a fun style that made the apps on the phone look like real-world 3D objects, complete with texture and shading… but Ives preferred to keep things simple with a flat 2D style, and now he had Steve Job’s approval to kill skeuomorphism once and for all.

It was a drastic top to bottom change, and because of the way iPhones automatically upgrade, millions of unsuspecting users woke up the following morning to realize that their iPhone looked nothing like it had when they went to bed the night before. It was like the Apple elves had snuck in through their bedroom window and magically transformed their familiar iPhones into something completely different… and they HATED it!

It wasn’t so much that they didn’t like the way that it looked, it was much more that they weren’t used to it.  All the apps looked different, and people struggled to find their calendar or email apps they used every day.  It was a big change, and people fear change… and so began the crippling fear of the Apple upgrade.

Even though there has never been nearly as drastic of an upgrade before or since, people are still shellshocked, and petrified of what will change next.

So they postpone the software updates, and hang onto their old failing devices even after the screens get cracked, even after the battery won’t hold a charge, even after their apps and software stop functioning… out of fear.  They assume if they don’t upgrade or update anything, they can hold onto things exactly as they are forever… which they can’t.

As soon as one device finally breaks down, or as soon as anything gets upgraded this delicate house of cards comes crashing down and then you are forced to upgrade everything.  And then it gets super complicated because suddenly there are so many simultaneous changes that it gets completely overwhelming.

The fear is that upgrading will make things stop working, but the truth is that not upgrading is way more dangerous. With Apple, upgrading is not supposed to be an occasional thing, it’s supposed to be a consistent, incremental process.  When an upgrade is available if you just run it right away you will never have a drastic significant change, just minor updates along the way.

It's true that with every major upgrade there may be a learning curve, or some growing pains, but there are also new functions, new tools and new capabilities. And some of these new capabilities are game changers that make it all worth it.

I have a different philosophy around all of it. I believe change is good. I believe that new releases, new products, new devices, and new apps are what progress is all about. I believe every tweak and improvement makes the Apple ecosystem better and better and rather than fearing these upgrades I look forward to them.

Sure, I’ve been frustrated by a change here or there, but I also have been impressed by a function or capability that didn’t exist before the upgrade.

So don’t let your fear of an overnight change that transforms your phone into an unrecognizable device prevent you from enjoying the new functions, features and innovations of Apple’s latest upgrades. 

When I hear people wish that everything would just stay the same, I laugh. If everything stayed the same we would still be driving around in horse-drawn carriages and using phones connected to the kitchen wall with a curly cord.

I say bring on the change!

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