Why are iOS updates near-simultaneous?

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Lenoxus
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Why are iOS updates near-simultaneous?

Postby Lenoxus » Wed Feb 05, 2014 2:10 am UTC

My dad recently summoned my help with his iPhone, which was bugging him about agreeing to the new terms and conditions, but it couldn't actually connect to the iCloud server even within Safari, perhaps because the server is intermittently jammed. I'm tempted to blame the latest update being downloaded everywhere at once, since his phone just sort of updated itself, suggesting some sort of recent update (or recent mass-forced-update several months after iOS 7 came out) or something. I dunno.

This got me thinking: With every major iOS update, including 5, 6, and 7, there's always news of awful wait times, and entire school/university networks becoming unusable for the whole day. I can't help but wonder, couldn't Apple do it a better way?

For example, they could select a random seventh of all devices and permit only those ones to update on Day One, and likewise for Day Two, etc, thus turning Update Day into Update Week. Further load could be reduced with a money-making opportunity: Let people pay Apple for the privilege of being the very first ones to get the new version!

Yet another idea would be to make it so that on the day of updating, you would see a button that said something like "register to update". Based on the order of received registrations, the server could assign windows of time to different users, and your update would start as soon as your slot came up. (For both of these ideas, perhaps people could be restricted to updating within a window, after which they would have to wait until the whole update phase was over.)

At some level, this is more a rant than a genuine question, because I figure that Apple doesn't consider things like crashing school networks to be their problem. (And in a way, they'd be right; it's up to students to decide when to update, and/or schools to set clear guidelines.) Plus, of course, any arbitrary staggering could be perceived as unfair, and get Apple a lot of flack.

And the whole central complaint about updating is how long it takes -- so making it take an extra four days because your name starts with T wouldn't make that better, right? Yet maybe it would. People aren't complaining about the total quantity of hours they have to wait until they have the new OS. They're complaining that a download is taking all day, hence tying things up for everyone. Delaying that download's start wouldn't actually be an extension of the real problem, I think. But I'm far from an expert on computer-consumer stuff.

For the only iOS update that made a difference to me (I have an iPad 1, which can't go higher than iOS 5) I chose to wait two weeks. That may be the sensible thing for everyone to do, rather than complain to Apple. But I didn't like the ambiguity (what if everyone waited exactly two weeks?) and I would have preferred a clear signal to the effect of "okay, go ahead."

Anyway, is there anything relevant I missed here?

lalop
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Re: Why are iOS updates near-simultaneous?

Postby lalop » Wed Feb 05, 2014 8:07 am UTC

Is is staggered, no?

the notification announcing availability of the new iOS is staggered over a few days to help spread out the signaling load.


http://www2.alcatel-lucent.com/blogs/co ... -networks/

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Lenoxus
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Re: Why are iOS updates near-simultaneous?

Postby Lenoxus » Wed Feb 05, 2014 6:25 pm UTC

lalop wrote:Is is staggered, no?

the notification announcing availability of the new iOS is staggered over a few days to help spread out the signaling load.


http://www2.alcatel-lucent.com/blogs/co ... -networks/


Ah, that looks correct, but it only talks about "mobile networks", as in 3G, 4G, etc. (What I refer to as "cell phone internet" when talking about it to friends). I'm glad they put effort into that end of things, but even most non technically-oriented users would avoid downloading an update or app over the cell network, right? So I think my point still stands. For example, here's an article about the iOS 7 update, entitled "iOS 7 downloads causing network outages at several school campuses, activation server failures":

http://9to5mac.com/2013/09/18/ios-7-dow ... -failures/

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Steax
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Re: Why are iOS updates near-simultaneous?

Postby Steax » Thu Feb 06, 2014 6:05 am UTC

And the whole central complaint about updating is how long it takes -- so making it take an extra four days because your name starts with T wouldn't make that better, right? Yet maybe it would.


I'd be pretty annoyed if I had to wait a few more days just because of my name or some sort of random selection. And the utter rage Apple would get if they let people pay for the privilege is going to be insane; part of the selling point of iOS is that updates come free, fast and simultaneous for everyone.

If anything, I'd agree with this bit:

And in a way, they'd be right; it's up to students to decide when to update, and/or schools to set clear guidelines.


We can't blame any service provider for our networks when they fail. I could see blame being placed if said phone wouldn't connect at all because Apple's servers were jammed (more on that in a sec) and if they blocked the phone from use until that was complete - and in this case, yeah, rage away. But if a school network explodes because everyone piggybacks to update their OS, then that's the school's job to handle.

And whatever happened to your dad was probably something else, because the latest iOS security update was on Nov 14th.
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Lenoxus
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Re: Why are iOS updates near-simultaneous?

Postby Lenoxus » Sat Feb 08, 2014 9:42 pm UTC

Steax wrote: And the utter rage Apple would get if they let people pay for the privilege is going to be insane; part of the selling point of iOS is that updates come free, fast and simultaneous for everyone.


Fair enough, except they only get two out of three; unless you wait a couple days, it's not fast.

Although come to think of it I guess it only depends in wheter other people are using the network for big downloads too, and it doesn't even matter what the downloads would be, does it? I'm starting to revise my position on this; if I download the new iOS at home (me being the home's only occupant for purposes of argument) on Day 1, I shouldn't expect the transfer to be any slower than any other download would be, or slower than on any other day. Is that right?

Steax wrote:And whatever happened to your dad was probably something else, because the latest iOS security update was on Nov 14th.


Thank you. I guess it was just "one of those things".

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Steax
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Re: Why are iOS updates near-simultaneous?

Postby Steax » Sun Feb 09, 2014 3:45 am UTC

Pretty much. Naturally, some people still had trouble here and there, but reports say that adoption for iOS 7 was at 35% over the first 24 hours. So it doesn't sound too bad.

One fix being offered is OS X Server (10.9) which includes a local caching server. In theory, schools/businesses can just have a server on their network and it'll automatically act as a cache for apps and updates. Sounds good to me, though I've never tried it (I administer few enough devices, and people have their own laptops, for me to just give out the .ipsw files).
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Re: Why are iOS updates near-simultaneous?

Postby Neil_Boekend » Fri Apr 11, 2014 10:07 am UTC

Isn't it technically relatively easy to block the Apple update servers on the school network? Updating should be done at home not at school.
Block it for "intermittent heavy data usage liable to crash the school network". I assume the school has a filter to keep those young and dirty minds off porn anyway (as if that would be possible).
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