What You Should Know Before You Download iOS 7

It's here! Eight days after Apple announced the arrival of a brand-new and completely restructured operating system, the company removed the floodgates and rolled out iOS 7 to its millions on millions of iPhone, iPad, and iPod users Wednesday afternoon.

As we speak, countless users are greedily watching the "progress" bar on their iDevices, waiting for the unprecedented and revolutionized operating system to take hold. For as long as there have been iPhones, there have only been tiny tweaks to the existing system — but it looks like CEO Tim Cook has had enough of those pesky "Apple's losing its edge" reports.

The brand-new system has a flat, Android feel to it, with each and every icon redesigned; a new pull-down screen that lets you adjust settings; a streamlined font; animations (like falling snow in the weather report); cutting-edge motion sensors that respond to your movements... But you want to see for yourself, right?

Yes, it's all very exciting — but as anybody who ever watched Spiderman knows, with great power comes great responsibility. Downloading iOS 7 is a no-exit move. Unlike previous operating systems, there is no going back, unless you happen to be a world-class techie. You might hanker after the old, familiar interface, not to mention struggle to work it for a while, as some reviewers did. And let's not forget that iOS 7 has only been tested in beta, and the corrected version won't be out for weeks, meaning that this is a first version of a completely redesigned product — so nobody really knows what they're getting. It's confirmed: those who have already downloaded it are the risk-takers of this world.

But let's get (more) serious. There are already reports that major apps haven't bothered to update themselves to be compatible with the new system, which means bugs and crashes. Designers have shrieked in agony at the reinvention, calling it "ugly" and "harsh." Some iPad users have reported that the tablets aren't handling the software well, particularly iPad Minis, and older versions of Apple products — the iPhone 3G; the original iPad — aren't great with it, or just won't download it, either.

That said, the new iOS is widely proposed to be "more intuitive," meaning that everything you do with your phone (by which we mean, everything) is faster and easier. The App Store is better: you don't have to download automatic apps anymore — god damn you, ugly red number — because it'll do that by itself, and there's parental-control software to boot. It's far easier to slide from app to app, which has been possible since iOS 4 but just got a hell of a lot smoother. And Siri can be a guy now, so you'll always have a companion for those lonely evenings. (Sirion? Maybe we've been watching too much Game of Thrones...)

If your home button is slow and sticky, as often happens after you've had an iPhone for a while, you should upgrade. The new interface and pull-down window means that you don't have to press the button so much anymore, because all the major settings are now just a flick of your finger away. And if older apps haven't bothered to upgrade as well as they could have, the newer, cutting-edge apps sure have — and they'll be shinier and more polished on iOS 7.

Still, there are always long wait times on launch day, unless you're very lucky. Some techies recommend that it's always best to be on the safe side with new operating software, and so you should wait days — or even until the next upgrade — before you jump in. Some critics have pointed out that aside from the superficial redesign, the system is more or less the same, so if you're happy with the way things look now, don't do it. Plus, once everyone else has the new system and you're the lone iPhone user with the old iOS, you'll be able to wave your iPhone in the air and call it vintage.

Bottom line: if you're wonderfully resilient and perhaps a skydiver, go ahead and see what happens. If you're more cautious and aren't desperate to see what all the fuss is about, wait a day or two — that'll be long enough for everyone to figure out what bugs and issues plague the new system, and how serious they are. And if you're frankly happy with your iPhone interface and despise Android with all your heart and soul, maybe just hold onto what you've got. For now.