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The biggest iOS update in years comes with a learning curve to match

According to analytics company mixpanel, the adoption of iOS 15 is much slower than iOS 14 a year ago. Speculation in the media for the cause of the reluctance is a few “bugs” that they also widely reported.

The fear of bugs is a good reason to take a major iOS upgrade at a slower pace, and this is probably a large part of the reason, for most people. On the other hand, after our review of both iOS 15 and iOS 15.1 (beta version) it is also true that this year’s free upgrades have a steeper learning curve than in the past.

Paradoxically, this is due to the fact that both the sheer number of new features, along with the ground breaking and innovative nature they have, are responsible for the cost and the benefit of taking the plunge.

The big 2 year transition to Apple Silicon is driving the pace of software progress

While iOS, iPad OS and macOS gradually converge as they grow (along with the Peripherals like Apple TV, Apple Watch, etc) the new features and upgrades to existing apps and actions are in the midst of an explosion.

Although this is great news, and the productivity improvements are, in some cases remarkable, especially if you use your apple devices for work and business, with so many new features there’s bound to be some reluctance to fight through the brain fog that can come with having to learn new unfamiliar habits.

Perhaps the best known example of this so far is the famous “address bar relocation” backlash that happened as a result of the new feature allowing the address bar to be at the top of the safari page on iPhone, or at the bottom, closer to our thumbs.

Initially there was no opt-out and it was bottom only (while it was still in the beta testing stage) and due to a rumored backlash from users this was upgraded to the current system where this “radical” new design is an option, with the more familiar previous layout also available. (see video below for details on how to switch back to the “old” style).

In the grand scheme of things going backwards is rarely better

This example of resistance to UX change, even by the “elite” beta users is a telling example of just how all pervasive the new software features are in iOS 15, and how much we will all need to learn new “tricks” to get the most out of the changes and added functionality.

It is also a long standing Apple tradition to try to make things, in both hardware and software design, that “just work” and do not require an “owners manual” or how-to guide to figure out.

While this, in the best case, is miraculous and we “get” the new features in an intuitive metaphorical heartbeat, more often recently, there is a frustrated moment of near panic when we find ourselves in a software dead-end, with no obvious back button or option menu to select from.

For this reason, it appears that the usefulness and necessity of how-to videos and guides, the very ones that Apple is in the business of making unnecessary, are more important than ever.

How-To guides get a new lease on life, thanks to Apple

Thankfully, Lynxotic, and others are on the case and we are working overtime to provide the next generation of DIY documentation, both in video and article form for iOS 15.1, macOS 12 Monterey, iPad OS 15.1 and beyond.

It’s great to be able to absorb new features and design upgrades intuitively and without the need for a separate learning project to educate ourselves enough to use the devices we are already using.

However, with the massive and increasingly more powerful potential of the new Apple Silicon fueled software upgrades, proactive learning may be something that is not just a necessary evil.

It is looking, rather, like it will be semi-permanent and highly fruitful activity we will want to add, willingly, to our overburdened existences.

At least for a couple of years during the transition to a much better future in the life of the Apple device & software ecosystem.


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