iPad Air iOS 11 Beta: Impressions & Performance

The iPad Air iOS 11 beta 2 is an improvement over the first release but most people should continue to avoid Apple’s pre-release software.

The original iPad Air will be moving from iOS 10 to iOS 11 in the fall. iOS 11 is a huge upgrade for Apple’s slates and there are some exciting features on board the first two iOS 11 betas.

In early June we decided to make the jump from the iPad Air’s iOS 10.3.2 update to the iOS 11 beta. More recently, we moved from the iOS 11 beta 1 to the iOS 11 beta 2.

We’ve already taken a deep dive into the iOS 11 beta’s features and we’ve taken a look at some reasons to, and not to, install the beta on the iPad right now. This guide isn’t focused on iOS 11’s features. Instead, we’re taking a look at how the iOS 11 beta is performing on the aging 9.7-inch tablet.

There are some things we like about the early version of Apple’s iPad Air iOS 11 update. There are also some annoying problems plaguing our device and these issues have us considering a move back to iOS 10.3.2.

These are our impressions of the iPad Air iOS 11 beta 2 and this feedback will help you decide if installing the iOS 11 beta is the right decision for you and your iPad Air.

iPad Air iOS 11 Beta 2 Installation

Before we get into performance a few notes about the iPad Air iOS 11 beta 2 installation.

The original iPad Air iOS 11 beta 2 was 356MB, much smaller than the first iOS 11 beta. Apple recently pushed out a Developer Beta 2 Update 1 to the iPad Air. It’s s 25MB file if you’re already on the first version of the iOS 11 beta 2. Update 1 contains bug fixes and improvements.

If you’re coming from the first iOS 11 beta and you’re connected to a high-speed Wi-Fi network, it should only take a few seconds for the download to complete. From there, the installation process took about seven minutes to finish up.

If you’re installing iOS 11 beta for the first time your download and installation will take a lot longer. You should also expect your iPad to reboot itself several times.

You’ll also need to spend some time logging back into iCloud and various apps and services. We recommend putting aside 30-40 minutes, at least, to get the job done.

Some iOS 11 beta testers have run into installation problems so take your time. We’ve put together a pre-installation guide that takes you through some steps to take before you install the iOS 11 beta.

Now, let’s move into some thoughts on of the iPad Air iOS 11 beta’s performance.

Battery Life

Some iPad users are complaining about severe battery drain. It’s a common beta problem and one that we could definitely face down the road.

As of right now, our iPad Air battery is exhibiting normal vital signs. We haven’t seen any weird drain when playing games, answering emails, or watching videos. The iPad’s also keeping a solid charge in standby mode.

We can’t speak about long-term battery life just yet, we’ve only been using the beta 2 for a couple of days but short-term battery life is comparable to iOS 10.3.2. We can’t ask for much more than that.

Battery life problems can emerge at any time. If you start to notice severe drain on your iPad Air, take a look at our guide to fixing bad iOS 11 beta battery life.

Connectivity

Connectivity has also been a bright spot during our short time with the iOS 11 beta 2.

The iPad Air model in our possession isn’t cellular-enabled but we have tested Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

We’ve successfully connected the device and its new software to several different routers and to an eero home Wi-Fi system. Speeds are good and we haven’t noticed any dropped connections.

We’ve also tested the iPad Air with a few Bluetooth devices including the Bose SoundLink Mini speakers and the QC 35 headphones. Our connection to those devices has been stable.

Apps & Services

If you’re familiar with Apple’s iOS beta process you probably know that pre-release software typically doesn’t get along with first and third-party apps and services. If you rely on your iPad for school or work (like we do), that could be a problem.

Our core applications on the iPad include Netflix, Camera, FaceTime, Slack, Spotify, Instagram, Chrome, Asana, Podcasts, Photos, Twitter, YouTube, The Weather Channel app, and Soundcloud. We also occasionally play Tiny Wings and Papers, Please, two popular iOS games.

So far, FaceTime, Chrome, Photos, Spotify, Instagram, Twitter, and the YouTube app have crashed multiple times.  This all took place within a few hours of the installation. The Camera app occasionally refuses to open. We’ve had to restart the device in order to get it to work.

Simply put, our apps aren’t stable and that’s a big problem since we rely on the iPad throughout the day.

At this point, the crashes have us pondering an immediate move back to iOS 10.3.2 where our key applications were far more stable.

Speed

The iOS 11 beta 2 feels faster than the first beta but we’re still noticing issues with the device’s UI speed.

While iOS 10.3.2 was pretty fast, iOS 11 beta 2 feels sluggish. It would be manageable if the slowdown occurred at unimportant times. However, that’s not the case.

The keyboard lag that we saw in the first beta has carried over to the second beta. The lag makes it difficult to type messages and write emails.

Scrolling around the interface is pretty smooth but we’re still noticing lag when  we open folders and apps. The folder animation is often jagged and jerky and opening apps takes a few seconds longer than it did on iOS 10.3.2.

We’ve also noticed some slowdown when dragging out Control Center from the bottom of the screen. This was a problem for us on iOS 10 and its followed us to iOS 11 it seems.

Bugs & Other Problems

We’ve also seen a few other bugs that are worth pointing out:

  • The iPad’s gotten stuck in landscape several times.
  • Our iPad Air’s also randomly rebooted itself once. We didn’t notch a single random reboot on the iOS 11 beta 1.

One positive is that the Bluetooth toggle in Control Center is fixed in the beta 2. It didn’t work in the first beta.

Should You Install the iPad Air iOS 11 Beta 2?

If you rely on your iPad Air to get work done during the day you probably don’t want to install iOS 11 right now. It’s still buggy and slow.

If you have an old iPad Air lying around and you really want to give the new features a try (we don’t blame you), it might be worth the trouble.

If you do decide to give it a go, we recommend downloading the free public iOS 11 beta. All you need is a valid Apple ID and a little bit of time to get the update on board your device.

If you need more feedback, take a look at our walkthrough below.

4 Reasons Not to Install iOS 11 Beta & 9 Reasons You Should

Install If You Want to Improve iOS 11

Install If You Want to Improve iOS 11

Have you ever installed a new iOS update only to discover problems on board your device? If you've experienced frustrating iOS problems, you might want to give the iOS 11 beta a shot. 

The iOS 11 beta lets you try out new features but it also helps Apple improve the software. Fixes for the issues you report might not make it into the final version but we could see them emerge in future iOS 11 releases.  

If you're sick and tired of running into problems with iOS updates, do something about it. Download the iOS 11 beta and hunt for bugs. 

If you find something lurking in the latest iOS 11 beta, make sure you report it to Apple

4 Comments

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