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How To: Update iOS to the Latest Version

Posted by Carter Dotson on May 14th, 2012

This week, Apple released iOS 5.1.1, which brings some minor bug fixes, particularly to some camera functionality and to AirPlay. Software updates have been made a lot easier since iOS 5 was released, as now small updates like these don't require a full download of the entire iOS software. However, for users not yet on iOS 5, there's still reasons to use iTunes to update. In this latest how-to guide, we'll show you how to update that iOS device.

iOS 5 Software Updates

For owners of devices already on iOS 5, updating to the latest version is as simple as going to Settings, selecting General, then Software Update. iOS will send a push notification once an update is ready, and add a badge to Settings if an update is ready to be downloaded and installed. However, the news of an update usually circulates before notifications are sent out, so this process can be manually done before the notification is sent.

It's best to charge the device while the update process is going on, so that the device doesn't accidentally lose power during the update. If all goes right, the device will reboot, and a few minutes later, iOS will be up to date. Both my iPod touch 4th generation and iPad 2 had two separate bars pop up while installing the update, so this may be a normal part of the process. Don't freak out.

Updating via iTunes

For those devices still not on iOS 5, or for people that find it more convenient to do this process on the computer, it is still possible to upgrade through the computer. Plug the device into iTunes. Select it from the left sidebar. Then, on the main screen, select Check for Updates. iTunes will find the latest update, and start downloading it.

There are two potential downfalls. One, what if the iTunes used for updating doesn't have internet access? Or, if iTunes has issues downloading the software update quickly? Well, it is possible to download the software update manually and then load it into iTunes. Download the update from some source, such as this site (make sure to download the correct update for the correct device). Then, in iTunes, hold down Shift (Windows) or Option (Mac) and click on the button. A dialog box to open up a file should appear. Open up the previously-downloaded file from this point.

Once on iOS 5 (for devices that support it), this process should not be necessary. However, in cases where it may be, this is good to know how it works as well.

iOS 4.3 Changes In-App Purchases to Require Password

Posted by Bonnie Eisenman on March 15th, 2011

One complaint that has been consistently leveled against in-app purchases is that it's easy to accidentally make a purchase in real-world money by accident. In-app purchases, which can include anything from extra level packs to extra play time or ad removal, can often generate more revenue than the initial app purchase. With previous iOS versions, in the first fifteen minute period after downloading an app, in-app purchases can be made without having to re-enter you password. The Washington Post writes that parents had complained that, "in the 15-minute period after an app was downloaded, children were buying sometimes hundreds of dollars of purchases on games such as Smurfs’ Village and Tap Zoo — popular iTunes games that are also among the highest-grossing programs for in-app purchases." In the Smurfs app, for example, a barrel of "snowflakes" or "Smurfberries" can run as high as $99. Besides, "fat finger syndrome" can also lead to unintended in-app purchases.

In response to such complaints, Apple has changed its handling of in-app purchases in iOS version 4.3. Now, a password will also be required to make an in-app purchase, though for fifteen minutes after entering your password that time you'll be able to make multiple purchases. So, it's a small hassle but if you're making lots of purchases at once it shouldn't be too bad.

Of course, you can also just switch of in-app purchases in the "Restrictions" section of the Settings app if you're really concerned about your kid spending too much money of Smurfberries. At the price of a small inconvenience, this new setting should prevent some parents from getting too irate, but I do wish that Apple had made it an optional (albeit default) setting that we could tweak personally.

If you're anxiously awaiting a means of preventing accidental in-app purchases, updating to iOS 4.3 should solve your problems.