Mobile Groans: Software Updates


It seems that today was perfect for me to be writing this latest mobile groans article. After a busy morning in the office, I took my lunch hour to relax, eat and prepare myself for another busy stint in front of my PC screen.

This was all going swimmingly, until I arrived back at my desk. Only to see a bright blue screen with a message which drives fear into even the most courageous tech users – ‘Your Windows PC is updating. This may take a while.’

It took 40 minutes for me to get back to work… But it could’ve been worse.

Software Nightmare

Whilst a PC update can be taxing, it pales in comparison to smartphone updates, which despite being few and far between, are still capable of putting us out of the digital world for hours on end.

PC updates are typically simple affairs. Your compyuter downloads the update and then installs it, all the way guiding you along the process. Sure, I was left without the chance to write-up this article for nearly three quarters of an hour. But I had my phone available (and working), so my connection to Twitter, Facebook and other purely work related apps was still strong.

However, if I’m out and about and my phone decides that it’s update time – that’s when things get hairy.

Give them their credit, many smartphones now have you time your updates to suit your needs. For example, the iPhone now lets you schedule your iOS updates to around 3am, when you’re probably catching up with sleep to make its behind the scenes switcheroos.

Are updates making our phones a nightmare?

 Where's the xenon flash gone?

However, these timed updates are unreliable. There have been several occasions when I’ve set an update to go ahead overnight, only to wake up to the same old iOS I had the day before.

This means that I need to sit there and supervise my phone as it updates, leaving me lost in a world that’s now dictated by online connections. That means that if someone needs to call me, text me or even email me – I’m out of touch during the updating process.

This would be but a minor inconvenience. If it wasn’t for one thing…

How long does it take?

They say a watched pot never boils, but in today’s world it should be changed to a watched phone never updates. Simply put, you need a good hour spare to update your phone properly, ideally two if you come across any problems – which are common sights.

Whilst the update process is simple to do, it’s not exactly quick – and isn’t helped by regular failures which are no longer an occasional hindrance.

For example, the last time I needed to update my iPhone 6, it took me 45 minutes, and then a few hours later it turned out that half of my music library went AWOL. It was nothing a restore and sync couldn’t sort, but added to the time of the update it took a grand total of three hours of my time.

The issue isn’t for the iPhone-only crowd either. Numerous Android users have expressed their anger about software updates taking hours to work as well. Hell, even Windows users haven’t had a good time of things with some software alterations.

It’s nearly enough to make you go back to that trusty old Nokia 3210, which to date has never seen a software update since launch.

Can you really 'brick' your phone with an update?

 Can you guess these phones?

It’s not just the time…

The biggest issue that I’ve noticed with software updates though transcends these minor inconveniences. It’s the fact that nearly every software update (at least all of the big ones) always seem to bring a whole host of problems with them.

Remember updating to iOS 9? If you had an older iPhone, you will – because it drained your battery in a matter of minutes. Update bugs are common, but nowadays we’re seeing more and more serious issues crop up with software changes.

Some phones show up camera issues, others struggle with battery problems. But the worst case scenario comes when an update ‘bricks’ a phone – making it essentially useless.

It’s been reported numerous times now, and more often than not, it’s a dodgy update which causes the problems. So, whilst developers are trying to improve their phones, they’re actually breaking it beyond repair.

Of course, it seems that we’re stuck with software updates for now – so let’s just hope that from here on out they’re a bit kinder to our handsets…

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