iPhone Update Shows Remarkable Resilience

Patience has never been one of my leading virtues. Yesterday, while updating my iPhone OS from version 12.1 to 12.2, impatience led me to observe that iPhone Update shows remarkable resilience. Once I’d started the update process over the air. I quickly realized it was going to take a long time to complete the download. At one point, in fact, the time bar said “1 hour remaining.” That’s when I plugged my iPhone into my PC, fired up iTunes, and restarted the update process from there. Indeed the download was MUCH faster to my i7 7700 PC with its near-GbE connection via Spectrum.

All went swimmingly until the machine started its first reboot. It paused forever when the White-on-Black Apple logo appeared on the screen. Figuring that more power to the phone might help speed things up (it didn’t), I disconnected the phone from the PC and plugged it into an nearby iPad charger. Bad move! The update process crashed immediately and I got the “plug back into iTunes, idiot!” screen on the phone shown in the following screenshot:

Egad! I didn’t realize that once you start an update through iTunes, it must run all the way to completion through iTunes. Now I know. Sigh.

Several Interesting Things Happened Next

Thank God for the depth of understanding for human ingenuity/stupidity that the developers who wrote the iOS Update code for Apple baked into the process. The phone’s status screen shows that, even without an OS, it knew enough to show me what to do. On the iTunes side, the program also immediately requested that I reconnect the iPhone via USB so it could attempt repairs. It was smart enough to tell me that it could re-try the update. And if that failed, it could restore the backup which I had fortunately made just before commencing the update process. And if that failed, it said, it could restore my phone to ground zero with a factory reset image. Now THAT’s some quality software engineering.

Of course, now that I know that if I break the USB link between iPhone and PC while an iTunes based update is underway it will then crash, I’ll never do that again. But I was tickled to death to understand that my idiocy wasn’t also rare enough to be unforeseen. I gotta hand it to those Apple update developers. They did a kick-ass job of anticipating what might go wrong during the process, and building in the necessary error-handling smarts to fix things as needed.

All’s Well That Ends Well

I was lucky. The update picked up more or less where it left off and ran to completion. It took a bit longer, overall, than other OTA updates have taken in the past. I neglected to factor in the trade-off between faster download to the PC and USB 2 based file transfer speeds from PC to iPhone. For whatever reason, even though I started out with iTunes through a USB 3 port on my PC, the recovery didn’t work until I plugged the Lightning cable into a USB 2 port. And so it goes here at Chez Tittel, where random bits of lunacy mingle with similar bits of the quotidian. May you learn from my mistake!


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