iPad + iOS 4.2.1 = Frustration

Sorry but this is a little rant about the latest and greatest version of iOS 4.2.1 on my 32Gb WiFi iPad. You see up to the point just before I upgraded, my iPad was marvellous. Either at home on my WiFi network, or out and about with my Three UK MiFi mobile hotspot, anything requiring internet access was a breeze. Applications like Osfoora and WeatherHD would update almost instantly, web pages would load quickly, even my LogMeIn Ignition worked really well.

But then that fateful day came in November when the much anticipated iOS 4.2.1 update hit the Apple servers. Multi-tasking (of a sort), folders, AirPlay, AirPrint (ok with a helping hand from Printopia in my case), but all really useful stuff. Like many others I’ve heard about including two iPad owning friends, the iOS 4.2.1 update on the iPad wasn’t quite the usiual ‘it just works’ Apple experience. iTunes got part of the way through the update before it decided to ‘hang’. I left it like that for 2.5 hours (yes, two and a half hours!), but no joy. The iPad was in limbo and I eventually had to force quit iTunes and start again. Much later that evening, the iPad was up and running with iOS 4.2.1 and that’s when my WiFi woes started.

No WiFiAt first I thought it was my internet connection at home, but using my MiFi instead of my home broadband produced the same results. The iPad would show itself as being connected to a WiFi network with a strong signal, but web pages would start loading incredibly slowly and apps would take forever to update. Then the connection would drop completely and Mobile Safari would complain of timeouts, apps would tell me I wasn’t connected to the internet and all the while the iPad showed itself as being connected with a strong WiFi signal. Rebooting my router or MiFi made no difference, what’s more my Mac was still working perfectly through the same WiFi connection. Eventually I twigged that restarting the WiFi on the iPad would temporarily fix the problem. Initially this was switching the iPad off then on again, but then I discovered that just recycling the WiFi by turning Airplane mode on for five seconds then off again would do the trick. But the problem would always return, sometimes as soon as five minutes afterwards and sometimes I would get a full 30-45 minutes of working WiFi before it would tail off again and eventually stop.

Searching the internet has revealed that a lot of people are experiencing the exact same problem – intermittent and slow WiFi since upgrading to iOS 4.2.1. Some surveys I’ve seen suggest that it’s as many as 25% of users are having this problem, and it clearly is a problem. Whether it’s related to a particular ‘batch’ of iPads, or some curious combination of circumstances, who knows. I know three other people with iPads and two of them have the same problem, making that 75% of the people I know. I know, it’s a very small sample and for reference one of my friends who has the problem actually had a smooth upgrade without iTunes hanging.

As incredibly frustrating as this is, it wouldn’t be quite so bad if Apple wasn’t being it’s usual taciturn self when it comes to problems. What problems? Having browsed the numerous complaints on the Apple Support Forums, there doesn’t seem to be any acknowledgment at all from Apple that there’s a problem. Even a simple “we’re not saying there’s a fault but we are investigating” would help. In all honesty, I’d be very surprised if Apple weren’t aware of the problem and are doing a little investigation, but engaging your customers a bit better when there’s issues like this would push their already high customer satisfaction ratings up from the low 90’s towards that magical 100%, well ok 99% ‘cos there’s always someone!

Surely that’s something that Steve Jobs and Co would love to do? I know it would make me happy… well happier knowing a fix is on the way.

Here’s a thread about the issue on the Apple Support Forums – HERE

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