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How to Update to iOS 7: What You Need to Know

iOS 7, Apple’s newest edition of its mobile operating system, is coming to devices near you on September 18th. With a new, more colorful look and some pretty substantial changes under the hood, some people are calling this release the biggest change to the operating system since the release of the original iPhone. And, as with all the updates to iOS, the newest version is totally free. So whether you want the new look and feel, want to be on the cutting edge of the new features and security updates, or are just really excited about the new filters on the camera app, here’s what you need to know before you can make the change.

What Devices are Eligible?

Most of the Apple mobile devices released in the last few years are ready for iOS 7:

  • iPhones: iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5C, iPhone 5S
  • iPod: iPod Touch 5th Generation
  • iPad: iPad 2, iPad with Retina display (you might think of it as the iPad 3), and the iPad mini.

But if you want to take advantage of every new feature, you still need the right device. Here’s our chart of what’s available for what:

Feature

iPhone 4

iPhone 4S

iPhone 5

iPhone 5S

iPhone 5C

iPod

iPad2

“iPad 3”

iPad Mini

Panorama Camera

X

X

X

X

X

Square Pictures and Videos

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

Swipe-to-Capture

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

Filters in Camera

X

X

X

X

Filters in Photo

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

AirDrop

X

X

X

X

X

X

Siri Updates

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

How to Upgrade

1. Do a Little Fall Cleaning: Go ahead and tidy up your iDevice. We all have unused apps, duplicate (and bad) pictures, old notes, and videos we don’t watch anymore. Think of this as an opportunity to become a little more streamlined and free up some space. Our rule of thumb is the same as last time–your iDevice is like a closet. If you haven’t used it in 3-6 months, you don’t need it!

2. Back Up your Device: As always, the most important step, and sometimes the one least neglected. Usually iOS upgrades go smoothly and your data are just as intact as they were when you started. But it never hurts to plan for the worst case scenario, and it’s just another opportunity to make sure you don’t lose valuable pictures or music in case your device ever gets lost or broken.

Make sure your device is plugged in to a good power source and that you have a stable WiFi connection. Then, on your phone, go to Settings > iCloud > Backup and Storage > Backup Now.  iCloud backup is free for all iTunes purchases of music, movies, TV shows, apps, and books. For everything else (including camera roll photos), Apple gives you 5GB of storage for free and lets you pay for more. If you don’t want to pay for more storage it’s not a big deal: you probably still need to plug your device into a computer running iTunes. Here’s why:

iCloud will not back up media you didn’t purchase from iTunes (music, movies, etc), podcasts and audiobooks, and photos transfered from your computer. So you probably need to sync with iTunes by connecting your device to a machine running iTunes, either via USB or wireless. If you haven’t set up wireless syncing with iTunes then don’t start now: go the old fashioned way and plug into your computer.

3. Update Your iTunes: I always feel like iTunes is asking me to update whenever I start it up, so this time, if you haven’t done so yet, it’s a great opportunity. If you’re having trouble with the auto updates, you can always download the latest version from Apple.

4. Start Updating: Just plug your device into your computer, start up iTunes, and you should be prompted to start. Of course, make sure you do this step sometime after the 18th when iOS 7 is finally released.

And that’s it! Good luck!