iOS 7 on iPad 3: First Impressions and Performance

Back in June, Apple announced that it would be releasing the iOS 7 update for iPad sometime this fall. Earlier this month, the company confirmed that the iPad’s iOS 7 update would roll out on September 18th alongside the iOS 7 update for iPhone. Yesterday morning, Apple made good on that promise and delivered the iOS 7 update for the iPad 4, iPad 3, and iPad 2.

On stage at WWDC 2013, Apple detailed its latest and greatest update to its mobile software, an update dubbed iOS 7. iOS 7 was announced as the successor to last year’s iOS 6 update that brought a whole bunch of new features including Apple Maps and PassBook, but kept the same look as past iOS updates.

Not iOS 7. iOS 7 represents a drastic change from previous version of Apple’s software, introducing brand new icons and a flatter look to go along with new features and existing ones that have received perceived upgrades. The update is one that Apple is calling the biggest change to iOS since the introduction of the iPhone and it’s hard to suggest that it’s lying.

iOS 7 has arrived for the iPad 3.

iOS 7 has arrived for the iPad 3.

After the announcement, Apple released the iOS 7 beta for iPhone, releasing the iOS 7 beta for iPad two weeks after the event. That, along with some rumors, led many to wonder if Apple would be late in pushing out the iOS 7 update for the iPad 4, iPad 3, iPad 2, and the iPad mini, the four iPad models that would be receiving the new software.

The company answered that question at its iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C launch event on September 10th wherein Apple promised to deliver iOS 7 to iPhone, iPad and iPod touch owners alike starting on September 18th. Yesterday, the calendar turned over to September 18th and as expected, the iOS 7 update rolled out to iPhone, iPad and iPod touch owners around the world.

We’ve already taken an initial look at iOS 7 on the iPhone 5, iPad mini and iPhone 4S, and now, it’s time to offer up some initial thoughts on the iOS 7 update for the iPad 3, Apple’s third-generation iPad.

iOS 7 Installation Problems

Trying to install the iOS 7 update on the iPad 3 yesterday morning was nothing short of a disaster. While we expected to see some issues emerge around the time of its release, we did not expect those issues to be as widespread as they were.

There were errors galore when installing iOS 7 for iPad.

There were errors galore when installing iOS 7 for iPad.

When we tried to update our iPad to iOS 7 Over-the-Air, we were greeted with a Software Upgrade Error that persisted for more than an hour after the software was first made available. Trying to install through iTunes was even more of a disaster as we encountered error, after error, after error.

Finally, about an hour and a half after the software first hit the scene, we were able to keep a steady download. That download easily took 30 minutes to complete and after that, it was on to the lengthy installation process, a process that took far longer than the one on the iPhone 5. So, after nearly three hours of blood, sweat and tears, iOS 7 was installed on board our iPad 3, replacing iOS 6 as its operating system.

Overall Performance

After spending some time with iOS 7 on the iPad 3, it’s clear that it’s not as polished as the experience on the iPhone. It’s far more sluggish (try changing the orientation and watch what happens) and the touch response times are definitely slower than those found on the iPhone. It’s not so bad that it hampers the overall experience, it doesn’t happen often enough to do that, but the lag is still noticeable and there and it’s something that Apple needs to work out in future iOS 7 updates.

For the most part though, things are snappy, applications open up when they are told to open up, and we haven’t experienced any significant crashes since installing the new software.

Battery Life

One of the perks of the iPad is its long-lasting battery life and that’s something that it retains in iOS 7. While we can’t say if there are subtle differences between battery life in iOS 7 and iOS 6, we simply haven’t used it enough, we can say that there are not significant battery drain issues affecting our iPad at the moment.

Instead, the device is performing admirably, even when under the duress of multiple applications being open at the same time, including high powered games like Infinity Blade 2 and Grand Theft Auto.


Besides the occasional UI slow down, we haven’t encountered any debilitating bugs that have hampered our experience with iOS 7 on the iPad 3. As we’ve pointed out many times, bugs usually don’t rear their ugly head until a few days after the release date. So, it’s possible that we could find some pesky critters inside the software in the next few weeks but at the moment, iOS 7 seems relatively stable.


One of the big issues that iPad owners had in iOS 6 was with Wi-Fi connectivity. We experienced connectivity issues after installing last year’s iOS 6 update through Apple cured them in an incremental iOS 6 update. In iOS 7, Wi-Fi connectivity is speedy and reliable and we’ve been able to pull down quality data over known and unknown Wi-Fi networks.

Overall Feel of iOS 7

Many people out there are going to be scared to install iOS 7, given that the update is being hailed as the biggest change to iOS since the introduction of iOS. Don’t let that moniker intimidate.

The home screen in iOS 7 for iPad.

The home screen in iOS 7 for iPad.

The overall look of iOS 7 is different than that of iOS 6 but the overall feel isn’t going to be that much different. iPad 3 users will still be able to get around the operating system and while applications look different, they are still as intuitive as the applications that were installed with iOS 6. While it may be a little confusing at first, after a day with iOS 7, it feels like we’ve been using the operating system for months.

Apple does a fantastic job of ensuring that its software is easy to use, even for newcomers, and we haven’t had a hard time making the adjustment.

Multitasking is Superior on iPad

One of the features that iOS 7 brought along with it is enhanced multitasking. Instead of getting a row of icons when the home button is double tapped, users now get tiny screens that show what a user was last doing inside a particular application. It’s a nice gesture though again, like the iPhone, it’s still a bit clunky and slow, particularly when trying to swipe away apps.

The new multitasking feels great on the iPad.

The new multitasking feels great on the iPad.

That said, the experience is far superior than that of the iPhone thanks to how big the icons are. Users can switch back and forth between apps with ease, thanks to the screen real estate. It needs some work but it will certainly be a welcomed and widely used feature amongst iPad owners.

Control Center is King

Maybe our favorite addition in iOS 7 is the Control Center. iPad owners can now swipe up from the bottom of the home screen or lock screen and get a Control Center that allows users to enable or disable Wi-Fi, switch Airplane Mode on or off, adjust music, fiddle with screen brightness – something that is key for things like games and movies, and more.

You're going to use Control Center. A lot.

You’re going to use Control Center. A lot.

Again, thanks to the sluggish UI, trying to pull it up Control Center has been difficult at times. We’ve also seen our iPad lock up temporarily when opening the world clock option. Fortunately these have been rare occurrences and they haven’t muddled with one of the best features offered within the new iOS 7 update.

FaceTime Audio Will Be Used A Lot

FaceTime Audio is another feature that arrived in iOS 7. It allows iPhone and iPad owners to make audio calls over FaceTime either over Wi-Fi or over a cellular connection. The experience on the iPad version actually was better than the one on the iPhone. The calls were loud, clear and were not marred by issues.

This is a feature that we will likely be using a lot on both the iPhone and the iPad and hopefully, Apple continues to improve the call quality and performance of it.

Netflix Issues

We use Neflix extensively on our iPad 3 and last night, the application was giving us all sorts of issues. Not only did it crash, but when it did work, it was sluggish and slow.

Netflix has been giving us issues in iOS 7.

Netflix has been giving us issues in iOS 7.

We expect these issues to get fixed in a future update but for the moment, the Netflix experience, at least for us, is clunky and unpleasant.

Still Won’t Use the Camera, Or Siri

iOS 7 brought the new camera application and new features to Siri to the iPad. Problem is, we still consider the iPad to be a horrible camera, particularly on-the-go, and even the fantastic camera application that iOS 7 offers won’t be enough to persuade us to use it.

iOS 7 delivers a great camera app, we just won't be using it.

iOS 7 delivers a great camera app, we just won’t be using it.

As for Siri, she is as unreliable as ever as she still has a hard time figuring out our queries. And unfortunately, she needs to understand the questions before she can deliver answers. She’s not a mind-reader, at least not yet.

Should You Install the iOS 7 Update for iPad?

The short answer is yes, unless the iPad is jailbroken, in which case it’s best to hold out for an iOS 7 jailbreak. The longer answer is that most, if not all iPad 3 owners should be thrilled with the update. It adds some fantastic functionality and the new look will grow on users after using it for awhile.

Those who do install should note that there are still some issues with iOS 7 for iPad, namely lag and sluggishness, but those aren’t deal-breakers, they’re just minor annoyances that will get worked out.

iOS 7 is the future and iPad owners would be smart to hop on board.