A business user’s guide to Apple’s upgrade season


We’ve hit that time of year when enterprise IT prepares to support teams as they upgrade all their Apple operating systems across smartphones, tablets, and Macs.

The need for a stress-free upgrade process is accompanied by refreshed demand for hardware upgrades, as new models of iPhones, iPads, the Apple Watch, and Macs appear. Are your employees prepared for the season? Is IT?

When do the new operating systems ship?

Apple will introduce its new iPhone 13 at a special event on Tuesday at 10 a.m. PT (1 p.m. ET). The new devices will likely be available for pre-order three days later, on Sept. 17, with the hardware expected to ship and arrive in retail stores on Sept. 24.

Apple will publish its new iOS 15/iPad OS 15 operating systems for iPhones and iPads at around the same time, usually just before the products ship. History is your guide: iOS 14 and iPad OS 14 were released on Sept. 16, 2020 with new iPads. The iPhones followed (along with the iOS 14.1 release) on Oct. 13. iOS 13 shipped Sept. 19, 2019, one day before the iPhone 11 reached stores.

Up next, I imagine macOS Monterey will ship in time to support Apple’s next anticipated Mac event in October.

IT should test the betas immediately

It is reasonable to anticipate that many employees will update (or want to update) their Apple devices when the operating systems ship. Hopefully, your IT department has been working with the beta versions of these installations (they are available here

) to identify any potential problems or conflicts with your existing enterprise security protocols or systems. If not, then time is short, and they should expedite such research.

Essential: If your enterprise makes use of proprietary or older apps, it is critical you confirm whether these will be supported on iOS 15. In the event they aren’t, you will either need to delay the upgrade or replace the app/service.

Speak to your MDM provider

Mobile device management (MDM) software developers tend to work closely with Apple to provide zero-day support as new operating systems ship. Jamf, for example, has always provided this. What it means is that when the OS is upgraded, your MDM vendor is in position to automate upgrades across your fleet. It makes sense to confirm whether your vendor will provide such support this year, and also to determine how the installation should take place.

How will you roll out the OS this year? It may make sense to give end users control over upgrade timing, particularly as your remote teams may have work to do. You may want upgrades to take place at night, for example.

Speak to your employees

Your teams should be warned to make time for the upgrade, as it may be necessary for them to verify logins, VPNs, and other passwords at that time. Ensure they have the time and information they need to support that process.

It is possible your company policy may be to delay installation, in which case it is sensible to inform employees of this before they get too caught up in Apple’s inevitable software release hype.

Also, ensure your teams have access to the data connections they need for these upgrades.

Troubleshooting advice

Things can go wrong when system software is upgraded. A failed internet connection mid-install can cause problems, for example. Given so many company employees will be working remotely, it makes sense to distribute routine troubleshooting and installation advice first.

Basic installation and troubleshooting advice:

  • Note important Apple ID, VPN, Wi-Fi, and enterprise services passwords before upgrading.
  • Spring clean installed apps, delete those you no longer use.
  • Backup the device to iCloud or to local hardware before installation.
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  • Be prepared for a short-term performance hit after installation. This usually indicates that the device is reindexing itself and resolves in a few hours.
  • After the upgrade, you may find a device seems sluggish. Before you panic, Force Restart the device (iPhone, iPad), as doing so fixes such problems more often than not.
  • Be prepared to update all your apps, most of which should already be available in iOS 15 versions.
  • Battery life: In the event battery life takes a fall, Force Restart your device. If that doesn’t help, check to see whether an app is consuming vast amounts of battery power in Settings>Battery>Battery Usage. Update or delete and reinstall any that may be doing so.
  • If nothing else works, try Reset all Settings: Settings>General>Reset and choose Reset All Settings. You’ll be asked for your passcode to complete this process; you must then reconnect all your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices.
  • Users should familiarize themselves with Apple Support Communities, where they should be able to find answers and solutions to routine problems.

The hope is that if your people have enough information to self-resolve any routine installation challenges that crop up, your tech support teams will be able to focus their time on more serious issues that may emerge.

Known beta testing problems

While most of these problems are likely to have been addressed by the time the final version ships, some of the commonly reported issues during the iOS 15 beta testing process have included:

Files: If you choose Open in New window for a file, it may quit unexpectedly.

Widgets: You may find widget categories unstable, as when you select one an incorrect collection will open. Just quit and try again. The Home screen may quit when you drag a widget from a gallery.

Camera: Panorama may produce what Apple calls “unexpected results” when in Low Power Mode. Live Text may be unavailable.

Battery life: There have been reports of excessive battery drain when using the beta.

Additional problems have also been reported when installing the beta using Restore Images, SharePlay availability and consistency.

What else to expect

You’ve no doubt been festooned with iPhone 13 rumors across every channel, so I won’t spend much time with this short list. That said, here’s some of what’s currently anticipated.

  • A faster A15 processor delivering around 20% performance and graphics improvements and slightly better battery life.
  • Potentially, an AMOLED display with 120Hz refresh rate.
  • A smaller notch and better support for masks in Face ID.
  • Improved camera with a better wide angle lens, optical image stabilization and a new astrophotography mode.
  • iPhone will support mmWave 5G in additional markets, which may have some positive benefits to remote workers. Emergency transmission via satellite in some markets.
  • Stronger MagSafe magnets and support for reverse charging may also feature in the release.
  • New iPads and Apple Watch 7 will also appear.

More details here

Take a glance through some of our previous coverage on the new operating systems. I also have some smaller tipshere.

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