Apple’s 4GB Problem

Apple's 4GB Problem

Last night I was greeted with yet another iOS update when I hooked up my iPod Touch, so as usual I let iTunes go ahead and update. It was also updating some of my apps, so I checked the progress. As usual, the update was > 600MB.

Later I hooked up my iPad 2 … same thing – another 600+ MB download. Then this morning I went to sync up my original iPad. That’s right – another 600+ MB download!

So now I have downloaded nearly 2GB of data for my three iOS devices – must be some pretty important stuff, right? Well, here are what the release notes tell us:

This update contains improvements and other bug fixes including:

– Fixes an issue that occasionally caused blank or frozen video during a FaceTime call
– Fixes an issue that prevented some international users from connecting to 3G networks on iPad Wi-Fi + 3G
– Contains the latest security updates

Hmmm … not really all that much. Worse still, it has only been a few weeks since the last update, which accomplished the following:

This update contains improvements and other bug fixes including:

– Fixes an occasional graphics glitch on iPod touch (4th generation)
– Resolves bugs related to activating and connecting to some cellular networks
– Fixes image flicker when using Apple Digital AV Adapter with some TVs
– Resolves an issue authenticating with some enterprise web services

And once again each update was ~655 MB, but I actually saw the glitching on my iPod Touch so that one felt like it was doing something.

But my point is that over the last three weeks I have downloaded 4GB of iOS updates which accomplish 7 lines of (public) fixes. I am sure there is more stuff going on, but that is beside the point.

Having to download 650MB to perform a simple x.x.# OS patch is completely ridiculous and unacceptable. Having to download what is essentially the SAME PATCH individually for every device I own is even WORSE! In countries such as Australia where everyone has metered internet, this could literally cost someone money. The attitude of assuming free and easy bandwidth for everyone is … well, arrogant.

So what am I going to DO about it? Since I just bought an iPad 2, I think I already voted with my wallet – and I will keep updating as needed. But it just highlights the post-PC problem Apple has – my new Android phone (Droid Pro) had an update recently and it downloaded and updated without hassle. I didn’t even need to plug in my charger! Same for the Palm Pixi – massive OS update, done OTA with no hassle. But for Apple, the tiniest update needs to be 600+MB and require you to tether to your PC. Unacceptable.

What do you think?

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About the Author

Michael Anderson
I have loved technology for as long as I can remember - and have been a computer gamer since the PDP-10! Mobile Technology has played a major role in my life - I have used an electronic companion since the HP95LX more than 20 years ago, and have been a 'Laptop First' person since my Compaq LTE Lite 3/20 and Powerbook 170 back in 1991! As an avid gamer and gadget-junkie I was constantly asked for my opinions on new technology, which led to writing small blurbs ... and eventually becoming a reviewer many years ago. My family is my biggest priority in life, and they alternate between loving and tolerating my gaming and gadget hobbies ... but ultimately benefits from the addition of technology to our lives!

10 Comments on "Apple’s 4GB Problem"

  1. This issue is killing me: living in the country and being on satellite, our usage is metered. I’ve got an iPad and an iPhone and an iPod on my computer, and Kev has an iPad and an iPhone on his. Since we don’t share syncing computers, we get to do the downloads twice. It pretty much sucks. =(

  2. Christopher Gavula | April 15, 2011 at 9:06 pm |

    You know – I understand what you guys are saying, but I respectfully disagre with you. Here’s why: Historically, on PCs, Macs, and other devices – incremental updates have been less successful and stable than full updates. Why? Well sometimes it’s because one of thr parts being updates might be in use so that part of the update gets defered or skipped. After a while you may end up with a machine/device where something’s are up
    to date and some not. Apples iPhone/iPad/iPod update methodology, while slow and bulky, takes the whole device offline and replaces tr firmware meaning you get the cleanest, most solid and complete updates possible. Additionally – they try and push a backup before the update even begins. I think this method means you are more likely to have a stable, clean OS on thr device.

    Am I saying that incrental updates inherently fail or are bad? No? But they often add a leven of uncertaintly that is eliminated by Apple’s methodology and update philosophy. You might not like it – and I see your reasons why and I understand them, but I actually appreciate the thoroughness and increased reliability offered by this process. To me it is a small price to pay.

    By the way – this is thr same reason I am NOT a fan of OTA updates. I really think that updates are able to be much more thorough and reliable if the device can come effectively offline during the update process.

    So it might cost a little more, in terms of time, transfer, and storage, but I really think it’s part of the larger stability of the platform.

  3. Reading – Apple’s 4GB Problem

  4. RT @geardiary RT @geardiarysite: Apple's 4GB Problem

  5. Yep & that's the main reason I don't update till its x.0 or necessary RT @khouryrt: Reading – Apple’s 4GB Problem

  6. crApple. What to expect if not arrogancy at least? RT @khouryrt: Reading – Apple’s 4GB Problem

  7. RT @khouryrt: Reading – Apple’s 4GB Problem

  8. 'Having to download 650MB to perform a simple x.x.# OS patch is completely ridiculous and unacceptable' @geardiarysite

  9. Apple’s 4GB Problem | Gear Diary

  10. In the PC world we’ve always complained when a Windows update requires a reboot, or worse, when an application update requires one. What you’re saying is that updates ‘should’ require a reboot?

    Why should I be happy doing that on a 24/7 device like my phone?

    On my iOS devices if an application is updated and sometimes has ‘issues’ then a reboot usually fixes the crashing and, although I understand that a complete iOS update from Apple has it’s advantages, I have to agree with Michael – it’s a bit arrogant really to assume everyone can download these full updates whenever they like. Apple customers aren’t as affluent as they used to be 🙂

    I think they need to:

    1. Have a single iOS update that installs the necessary parts onto each separate device – but only 1 download even if it’s slightly bigger overall.
    2. Continue with full updates but on a scheduled basis – biannual updates would be fine.
    3. But they also need to start looking at doing small OTA updates for quick fixes – they could require a reboot to ensure stability but the update could be performed anywhere without connecting to iTunes and would fix this sort of 4.3.1 > 4.3.2 issue we’ve all experienced recently. It would also enable Apple to remain more dynamic regarding security fixes (e.g. PDF reader fix)

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