Thursday, September 04, 2008

Update on iPhone/iPod Touch 2.0.2 Instability

NOTE: An update to this post (yes I have three posts on this issue now) is available here: TUAW Hits on iPhone/iPod Touch Instability

If you would like to read my original post on problems I experienced with my iPod Touch, please check this post: iPhone/iPod Touch Crashing in 2.0.2

Since writing my original post on this topic and after maintaining a stable iPod Touch for about 2 weeks, I decided to clear off some of the Apps I was not using. iTunes and the iPod started to be unresponsive in the middle of uninstalling the apps and I had to kill iTunes, and restart the iPod Touch. Needless to say, it never came back up and I had to reset it again. This time I tried the Backup I had made the night before, but iTunes claimed it was corrupt so I had to start from scratch once again!

Looking into this issue further, I found the best article I have seen so far on this problem. You can read it here. Incredibly, the article, a post on the Apple Support Forums addresses the issue in the 2.0.1 firmware and is hopeful that 2.0.2 would fix the problems. Based on other responses in the thread (and obviously my own experiences), the 2.0.2 firmware only exacerbated the instability.

To summarize the post, the main issues were problems with the device handling memory, and an unfortunate startup procedure for when the device loads or restarts. Many of the instability issues are created when Apps are installed and memory becomes scarce (whether being installed through iTunes or directly on the device, although the latter is riskier). Once an app is corrupt, restarting the device will cause Springboard, the main process responsible for the Home Screen, to rebuild the Applications map. However, the device will kill Springboard on startup if it takes longer than 5 minutes to load. Once it is killed, the device cannot fully start and needs to be restored.

Apple needs to address the memory handling capabilities of the devices, and additionally the underlying issue that if Springboard takes too long to load, the device decides to prevent loading. It would also be nice if they would acknowledge the issue now, even if they do not have a fix yet.

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