Here’s a question I’ve had asked often lately when I’m talking to people about their iPads or iPhones: how do I tell if my iPad / iPhone is running the latest operating system software?
It’s a good question, because generally speaking it’s a good idea to keep your iPad up-to-date and run the current version of iOS, the operating system for iPad and iPhone. And happily it’s very easy to check whether you are running the current version and to update your iOS version if needed.
The quickest way to see which iOS version you are currently running:
Go to the Settings app and to General > About. On the About screen the 9th item down the page is Version. This will list the current version of iOS – at the time of writing this post that is 5.1.1.
Updating iOS If you’re running iOS 5 or later on your iPad:
iOS 5 was released in October of 2011. If you are running that version or later on your iPad then you can simply go to the Settings app and then tap on General on the left-hand sidebar – you’ll then see an item titled ‘Software Update’ in the right-hand window, just below the ‘About’ item. Tap on that and you’ll either get a verification that your software is up to date, or a box showing that an update is available. If there’s an update available, you can choose to install right from this same screen.
* The only exception to the above is when a full new version (for instance the next major update to iOS, iOS 6, which is due for release this fall) is released. These generally require a full restore via iTunes to apply rather than an over-the-air update on the iPad itself.
Updating iOS If you’re running an earlier version than iOS 5 on your iPad:
If you never got round to updating to iOS 5 you really should – it boasts a great number of impressive new features and had been updated a few times since with further enhancements and security patches.
If you are on any of the iOS 4.x versions you will need to connect to iTunes on a PC to update iOS on your iPad. As long as you have iTunes installed on your Mac or Windows PC it should open automatically when you connect your iPad to it via USB port and your sync/charge cable.
When iTunes opens it should immediately recognize that your iPad’s iOS version is out of date and it will prompt you to update to the current version. You can then just choose to download and install the latest version and follow the on-screen prompts to get the installation done. The whole process generally takes just 10-15 minutes depending on your connection speeds and the general performance of your PC.
Of course, once you update to iOS 5 you’ll be able to use the simpler update method described above.
That’s about all there is to it. Happy updating.