iOS 8.4 on iPad Air: Impressions & Performance

Yesterday, Apple released its iOS 8.4 update for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. iOS 8.4 brings Apple Music and other fixes to devices like the iPad Air but according to some iPad users, it also brings problems. After spending quality time with Apple’s newest upgrade, we want to share our first impressions of iOS 8.4 on iPad Air.

In April, Apple confirmed an iOS 8.4 update for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. The company confirmed the update with a release into its beta program. And it’s there that the iOS 8.4 update stayed until yesterday when Apple finally released it to the public.

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iOS 8.4 is a big update for iOS 8 users as it delivers bug fixes, enhancements for iBooks, and Apple’s new Music platform that includes a new streaming music service, changes to iTunes Radio, and a new look for the Music application. It’s an update that many iPhone and iPad users have already installed.

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I am one of those people. Yesterday, a few hours after its release, I installed the update on my first-generation iPad Air. My iPad Air is my go-to tablet and I use it everyday for work and pleasure. While there are some reasons to think about holding off on the iOS 8.4 update, I downloaded it so that I could provide feedback to those sitting on the fence.

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These initial iPad Air iOS 8.4 update impressions don’t serve as my final review of the upgrade but they should help those of you who are struggling with the decision to download the update today or wait a few days for the update to settle. Here are my early impressions of iOS 8.4 on iPad Air first-generation.

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iOS 8.4 Installation

As I noted in my impressions of the iOS 8.4 updates for iPhone 5 and iPhone 6, I was a bit nervous ahead of the iOS 8.4 release yesterday.

With a WWDC 2015 announcement, an Apple Music release, a confirmed release date, and a confirmed release time, I figured the iOS 8.4 roll out would be plagued with problems. Boy was I wrong.

Instead of OTA and iTunes installation errors, I was greeted with a smooth download process and an even smoother installation process.  The entire process on the iPad Air took me around 20 minutes. I didn’t install the update during peak hours so my guess is that this is probably about how long it would take you to get iOS 8.4 update and running if you were to download it today.

If you do run into installation problems with the iOS 8.4 update, my advice is to reset your tablet. To do that, you’ll want to hold down the home button and the power button at the same time until it restarts itself. After it comes back to life, the download/install process should move forward.

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iOS 8.4 on iPad Air Performance

In these iOS 8.4 impressions I decided early on that I wouldn’t focus on Apple Music or the changes to iBooks. Instead, I wanted the focus to be on the performance of the software. Great performance is key to any device, especially a daily driver like the iPad Air.

When I download an update like iOS 8.4, I key in on five specific areas. They include the overall speed of the UI/software, app performance, battery life, connectivity, and random bugs and issues.

A quick reminder. Mileage is going to vary. I am just one person with one version of the first-generation iPad Air. I probably don’t use the tablet the same way that you do and I know that I don’t have the same exact apps that you do. I always encourage readers to gather feedback from other places before coming to a conclusion so be sure to do that if you haven’t installed the update yet.

iOS 8.4 Apps

iOS 8.4 went through an extensive beta process that included both developers and the public. So, I was pretty confident that most if not all of my third-party applications would come out of the upgrade process unscathed.

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So far, I haven’t run into any problems with my core iPad applications (Asana, Slack, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Gmail, Hangouts, Chrome, Dark Sky, Amazon, SoundCloud, Spotify, and Xbox One Smartglass) and I haven’t noticed anything strange with my secondary apps either. That includes games like Kingdom Rush.

This is great but it doesn’t mean that all 70+ apps on my iPad Air will remain stable in the days, weeks or months after the iOS 8.4 update. I’ve run into problems days, weeks, and sometimes even months after an iOS release. The only thing you can really do is keep your apps updated, report bugs to the developer and uninstall an app if it becomes unusable.

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iOS 8.4 Battery Life

I’ve started to see iOS 8.4 battery life complaints though most of them come from iPhone users, not iPad users. This is usually the case.

I haven’t stumbled into any bad iOS 8.4 battery life on the iPad Air in my 24 hours with the software. The tablet still holds a solid charge, even when I put stress on it with games and streaming content, and the same goes for the battery life when it’s in standby mode. Standby is huge because the iPad Air isn’t a device that I use frequently. I use it in spurts.

If you are dealing with iPad Air battery life problems or you’re hearing about problems, my advice is to wait a few days. Typically, battery life takes a few days to even out and we could see feedback swing in a positive direction as we push deeper into the month of July.

If it doesn’t settle, you’ll want to take a look at our list of fixes and tips for iOS 8.4 battery life problems. They should help.

iOS 8.4 Wi-Fi & Bluetooth

I always hear horror stories about iPad connectivity problems after iOS updates. Fortunately, whether it’s just luck or something else, I haven’t had any horror stories of my own to tell.

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I haven’t noticed anything wrong with my Bluetooth or Wi-Fi and I’ve been pairing the iPad to a number of different Bluetooth devices and connecting it to several different routers. Everything is stable at the moment and I don’t anticipate any changes down the road.

Connectivity problems can emerge randomly so you’ll want to commit some of our fixes to memory so that you’re prepared if iOS 8.4 does negatively impact your device.

iOS 8.4 Bugs & Issues on iPad Air

There are iOS 8.4 problems. iPhone and iPad users are running into several issues after installing the update though most of the problems I’ve seen are isolated. That is to say that I haven’t heard or seen any problems that are affecting every single iPhone or iPad user on the planet.

Not surprising. iOS 8.4 is extremely stable on my iPad Air. I haven’t run into any major problems nor have I discovered any smaller bugs or glitches. Smaller problems are much harder to spot so it could be days or even weeks before I run into something. I hope I don’t.

iOS 8.4 Speed

No problems here. The iPad Air and the UI are both extremely fast and fluid with iOS 8.4 on board. I don’t expect this to change either given that I haven’t noticed any lag or performance problems with an of the iOS 8 updates. Its been smooth sailing so far. iOS 8.4 could have some nasty surprises up its sleeve but I doubt it.

Should You Install iOS 8.4 Right Now?

While I think most iPhone 5 and iPhone 6 users would benefit from waiting a few days, I think you iPad Air users are find downloading iOS 8.4 right now if that’s what you want to do. It’s stable and I’m not seeing a ton of complaints about iOS 8.4 for iPad.

If you’re leery, wait a few days. Apple Music and iOS 8.4 aren’t going anywhere and a few days of user feedback never hurt anyone.

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I’ll be back later this week with a full review after I’ve spent more time with iOS 8.4 for iPad Air.