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iPad Updates | iOS Edition

B.Sc. (Hons), M.Sc., MBCS, CITP

The iPad updates iOS Edition explains in simple steps how to update your device's operating system.

iOS updates occur on average every 12 months (with some interim minor revisions in-between). Therefore, it is important you keep your Apple device up to date, particularly for bug fixes and user improvements.

It is a straightforward process, as you will see in a moment. Unfortunately, I find there are lots of home users who find the process confusing.

Therefore, with the help of the images showing the process step-by-step, we dispel this confusion so updating your device's iOS becomes the straightforward task it really is!

This article compliments the other iPad tutorials hosted on my site. This includes a comprehensive review of the iPad revolution and how this device became the world's most popular tablet.

The iPad Manual is a detailed user guide to help you get the most out of your device. We look at gestures, settings and managing your applications.

Losing your device is not the end of the world. Learn how to use the Find My iPad tool and get it back, quickly!

A sister page for applying the  iOS 8 update was written just after Apple released this version to the public. Take a look.

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iPad Updates | Download Preparation Stage

In this section, we look at what needs to be done to prepare for downloading your iPad's iOS update. Have your iTunes password to hand as you need this in a moment.

Before starting the update process, please observe the following tips:

1. Backup all your data using iCloud or iTunes

2. Update your Apps to the latest versions

3. Be patient! iOS updates are time consuming

This blog article from Here's The Thing covers iOS 7 update Do's and Don't in excellent detail. These tips also apply to iOS 8, iOS9 and above.

So, the first step to take is to tap Settings > General > Software Update.

How To Access The Software Update Tool On Your iPadiPad Updates
How To Access The Software Update Tool On Your iPad

The Software Update screen shows you details of the iOS update available for your iPad, including the size of the latest version available.

If you tap the Learn More option on the above screen, the following screen appears which details all the changes, improvements and bug fixes included in the iOS update.

As iOS updates are fairly infrequent, the changes listed tend to be quite substantial. I always read this information, so there are no surprises once the update is completed.

When you tap the Download and Install option, a check is performed for any further updates issued by Apple for your device.

This ensures you receive the latest update available, and avoid having to follow the process twice if you checked for updates previously and decided not to go ahead at the time.

Checking For iOS UpdatesiPad Updates
Checking For iOS Updates

When the latest iOS version is confirmed, the standard Apple Terms and Conditions page appears. Tap Agree in the top right-hand corner to proceed.

I bet very few read Licence and Terms and Conditions pages. At 43 pages plus, it is heavy going. It covers things like licence conditions for using inbuilt codec's (what enables video to work) and statements such as the one below when using FaceTime.

iOS Update Terms & Conditions Excerpt

"By using the iOS Software, you agree that Apple may transmit, collect, maintain, process and use these identifiers [e.g. your login details] for the purpose of providing and improving the FaceTime feature."

Do you truly know what you are agreeing to when you tap the Agree link? The literature is full of disclaimers and conditions, such as the example above. Would you tap Disagree after reading the fine print?

Your iPad requests you enter your iTunes password. Enter your password, then tap OK to begin the download process.

Login To iTunes To ProgressiPad Updates
Login To iTunes To Progress

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Downloading the Latest iOS Version

After entering your iTunes password, the download process begins. A blue status bar and a countdown shows where the download is up to.

iOS Download Preparation StageiPad Updates
iOS Download Preparation Stage


Ensure your device is appropriately charged, or even better, plugged in to the mains.

As you can see below, if your iPad has less than a 50% charge, the iOS update cannot take place.

iOS Will Not Update If Battery Too LowiPad Updates
iOS Will Not Update If Battery Too Low

When the iOS source files are downloaded, tap Install Now. You, of course, have the option not to go ahead with the update right this very second. You can continue this process later if you so wish. 

iOS Update Downloaded And Ready To InstalliPad Updates
iOS Update Downloaded And Ready To Install

At this stage, the Terms and Conditions page appears for a second time. Tap Agree when ready to proceed.

Part of the download process is the Verification Stage. This is where integrity checks and other verifications take place, ensuring your download is not corrupted or invalid in some way.

Verifying iPad iOS Update Before InstallationiPad Updates
Verifying iPad iOS Update Before Installation

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Installation Steps

The installation process happens automatically. All you can do at this stage is either watch the process in action or go and grab a coffee and check back in the next 30-50 minutes or so.

If you decide to watch the process, you see status bars like the one pictured below. Your iPad restarts several times during the process.

Apple iOS Version 7 InstallingiPad Updates
Apple iOS Version 7 Installing

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Final Steps

When the iOS is fully installed, your iPad presents the login screen (which may look slightly different to pre-update). Swipe To Unlock then enter your current Passcode.

Enter Your Passcode To Access Your iPadiPad Updates
Enter Your Passcode To Access Your iPad

To confirm you have the latest iOS update, tap: Settings > General > Software Update.

If your device has the latest iOS version installed, the following message is displayed.

Confirmation Your iPad Is Up To DateiPad Updates
Confirmation Your iPad Is Up-To-Date

If you don't have the latest version installed, your iPad performs a check by accessing iTunes and comparing the latest version to the one you currently have installed, and the process above begins again.

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Final Thoughts

So, there you have it. iPad updates, whether they be iOS or Apps, is really straightforward. It is prudent to perform the following checks and observations, just to confirm there are no issues.

  • Check the Apps you frequently use. Do they work as expected?

  • What is your iPad's performance like - Better/Worse?

  • Familiarize yourself with the changes in functionality

  • Familiarize yourself with any new gestures

If you encounter any issues with your Apps, simply update to the latest version. If you are already using the latest version, uninstall and re-install.

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