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UPDATE: Will iOS 9 Make My iPad2 Usable Again? (Reports after the upgrade.)

Massive Glacier

Back in June, I published a post titled "Will iOS 9 Make My iPad2 Usable Again?" that seemed to strike a nerve with the legions of iPad2 owners out there wondering about the future of their device. There have been a good number of comments on the original post - and I've received a fair number of private email messages asking how my upgrade went. The question now being asked is:

Does iOS 9 make your iPad 2 run BETTER?

Sadly, the best answer seems to be...


Reports have been decidedly mixed, both in the media as well as in the comments to that June blog post here. Some people reported improvements while others said it was the same (or worse).

A couple of people (one example) have reported that after upgrading to iOS 9 and then doing a factory reset the performance dramatically improved. The issue there, though, as I understand it, is that you lose all your apps, settings, etc. and would basically need to completely rebuild how you have the iPad 2 set up. However, if the alternative is not using it, I guess that's an option to consider.

ArsTechnica published an article on September 16 with the conclusion "Not worse than iOS 8, but missing many features" that noted that many of the new features in iOS 9 simply don't work on the iPad 2. They noted that the speed improvements are not significant. There's a lengthy comment thread there, too.

In my own case, I haven't really seen any dramatic benefits after the upgrade. Quite honestly I've been too insanely busy with work activities that I haven't really had the chance to give it much of a test. I do like the new keyboard layout. Some of the cosmetic changes are nice.

It's still sllllooowww to launch applications and to switch between them.

Maybe I'll try the factory reset route and rebuild the device... or just accept the slowness of it.

Given that I keep getting messages asking me my opinion, I'll summarize my view at this moment:

  • If your iPad 2 already runs iOS 8, UPGRADE! Performance can't really get any worse than iOS 8, and might just get better.
  • If your iPad 2 is still on iOS 7... well... think about it.

On this last point...there's a challenge here - if all you want to do is browse the web and send/receive email, you may be okay keeping your iPad running quickly on iOS 7.


... you are increasingly going to find that apps aren't available for iOS 7. As Andrew Cunningham writes in that Ars Technica article:

not because you won't take a small performance hit but because developers will increasingly abandon that older OS version if they haven't already. Apple's iOS updates roll out quickly, but the downside of that is that there's not a ton of incentive for developers to support older releases forever and ever. It's common for developers to support the current release and the immediately previous release, but starting today that doesn't cover iOS 7 anymore.

So the choice may be between a snappy web browser tablet or a slow tablet with newer apps. Or... time to upgrade. :-)

If I get a chance to really use the iPad 2 and write more of a response, I will do so, but meanwhile I thought I'd share these initial thoughts and links.

Your comments are welcome about your own experience...

Photo credit: an image of a massive glacier by David Stanley on Flickr