I attended a gathering of iPhone users this week to hear a presentation on tips and tricks for using iOS 5. It was soon obvious that many people are unclear about the relationship between Lion, iOS 5, iCloud, and the latest iPhone.
They kept asking who should upgrade to what, and in what order? This was particularly confusing for people currently using Apple’s MobileMe web services.
My advice is that if your Mac can run Lion, and your iPhone can run iOS 5, proceed in this order:
1. If you are using a Mac that is capable of running the Lion (Mac OS X 10.7) operating system (find out here), start by installing Lion. You will be purchasing Lion from the App Store software (App Store software should have been installed during routine Snow Leopard software updates). Lion is simply downloaded to your machine, and installed like any other software.
If you have concerns about installing Lion, I recommend the ebook Take Control of Upgrading to Lion. The downside of installing Lion is that you will no longer be able to use outdated versions of software, or outdated software such as AppleWorks. My take on it is that you will need to come to grips with this eventually — so why not deal with it now?
2. Install iOS 5 on your iPhone and iPad. The good news is that installing iOS 5 is relatively easy. While not all iOS 5 features can be used on the iPhone 4 (Siri, for instance, doesn’t work on the iPhone 4) iPhone 4 owners seem to be happy with it. There are also people who have successfully installed iOS 5 on an iPhone 3GSs. Be sure to back up your iPhone before installing the new operating system. This guide from CNET will walk you through the steps.
3. Get ready to move to iCloud. (If you have more than one person using your Apple ID, iTunes account, or MobileMe account, please see the note below.*) Before taking the final step to move your data and services to iCloud, buy, download, and read Joe Kissell’s Take Control of iCloud. As the book explains in detail, you do NOT have to leap headfirst into using iCloud. But you’ll probably be happiest if you do. It will give you access to everything you own, from email to contacts to music and ebooks, from every digital device you connect to the iCloud.
If you have been using MobileMe services, iCloud will make automatic (and invisible) a lot of things you were doing manually (such as syncs and backups). The danger is that if you were used to doing these things manually, you may think that you still need to do them the old way, via iTunes, even after you’ve put them on iCloud-automatic. The result will be double syncs and double backups — and complete confusion.
As Joe points out, iCloud will make a lot more sense to people who never got used to doing things the old way, via MobileMe and iTunes. His book takes you step by step through the process of disabling MobileMe data syncing and turning on iCloud syncing for various types of data.
Even with Joe’s book available, I’m starting to suspect that Mac consultants will be in great demand to migrate people from MobileMe to iCloud.
The best guidance I can give is that, after you activate iCloud, walk away from all your digital devices for 24 hours and let them settle. Then, go back and just assume that everything is where you need it — don’t take any action unless something is really and truly missing from your device. If something is missing, don’t panic and plug into iTunes quite yet. Consult Joe’s book. And try these techniques:
• Swipe left-to-right on an iPad or iPhone to access the search screen and type in the name of the app, song, or book you think you’re missing — it may well be on your device, but not in the folder you thought it was in. (Some users are reporting that folders were disorganized during the move to iOS 5.)
• Check in the iTunes Store app, tap the Purchased tab, and check the “Not On This iPhone” (or “Not On This iPad”) column. You can re-download anything you’ve previously purchased but have on another device. You’ll should also be able to re-download books from the iBookstore and Kindle app.
*A note for households sharing MobileMe accounts, iTunes accounts, and Apple IDs: The old systems favored sharing accounts. The new iCloud system favors each individual having a unique Apple ID for accessing iCloud data. This is causing a lot of pain, with main account holders making successful transitions from MobileMe to iCloud but their spouses, children, and other account-sharers losing data and apps — even entire email accounts. If this is your situation, I strongly advise that you upgrade to Lion and iOS 5 but wait to activate iCloud until more is published about dealing with these highly convoluted situations.