iOS 8.1 update OTA ‘Unable to Install’

A minor issue some iOS users are experiencing in the 8.1 update process is their iDevice refusing the upgrade without a state indicator, ‘unable to install update because ‘x’

If you were one of these people, it is likely the electron potential in the power cell is below 10%. For many of us, it is is SOP to have a physical connection from the power company to the handset while updating. Historically, Apple engineers have been more descriptive when it comes to messages of non compliance from the Operating System to deny a low battery during ROM write condition. Especially because software update anomalies trigger the highest paranoia, and we all know how protective Apple is when comes to public perception of their product.

However, if you were one of these people it begs the question: What are you doing letting your handset operate below 10% let alone make the decision to update it Over-The-Air in that condition? Placing your $900 hand computer in a state of vulnerability with wireless radios blazing, running Spotify and playing fruit ninja while the update is downloading? Actually that was me, but I do try to make it a habit to always have my device on the power grid while performing firmware updates irrespective of the battery state.

For a little historical perspective when it comes to firmware and our fruity friends from Cupertino, you don’t have to go too far back to find out how much there was to dislike about iOS. OTA updates didn’t even exist for iOS until the developer betas of iOS 5.0.1. Android however had been delivering remote wireless updates for over a year…sometimes. Prior to that, an iOS user was required to tether the device to a computer as an iTunes client, and even then it required a 50% battery rating.

While it is fairly uncommon these days, it is possible to render your iDevice useless…at least temporarily. The state of vulnerability for any computer during a ROM update or firmware flash was incredibly high. During the ROM write process, a power failure could easily render the device inoperable. For iOS users the ‘endless boot cycle’ or ‘spinning wheel of death’ is more likely to occur because of a failed effort to modify the security policy of an iDevice, rather than a power failure during update. These occurrences are honored by all the YouTube videos dedicated to ‘How to put your iPhone in DFU mode’.

I know it sounds really ‘I had to walk to school up hill, both ways, with no shoes in the snow’, but try to appreciate and respect the effort a lot of people put into making sure your technology is supported throughout its lifecycle, especially when that support can be performed remotely and unattended. Life as an iOS user during firmware released prior to iOS 5 was a very inconvenient time that many of us have not forgotten about.

There are many reasons to be critical when it comes to technology. Reasons like privacy, provider accountability, OEM transparency.

Can’t update when your battery>10%? Not so much.

Under certain conditions, electrons have so much potential. It is wise to keep a handful in your battery at all times, especially during critical evolutions.

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