While it's tempting to update your device to the new version of Apple's shiny new operating system, it may not be the best idea... at least not yet. When a new version of iOS/iPadOS launches, we keep a list of known compatibility issues we are aware of in OnSong, but that doesn't mean other apps or hardware won't experience issues with the latest from Cupertino. If your live performance depends on the rock solid stability, then it's a best practice to wait. Let's take a look at why.
The Testing Cycle
OnSong begins testing iOS/iPadOS beta versions shortly after they become available from Apple over the summer. In our 10+ years of working through iOS/iPadOS updates, we've found that Apple tends to change things or regress previous fixes in the final release candidate. This means that even though we've put OnSong through its paces on the new operating system for months, there could still be something that Apple releases as a "one more thing" at the last moment. Developers are not given notice of this, and we do not have details on what has changed with each release. This means it can take time for any potential issues to bubble up to the surface and be handled. As soon as we are made aware of an issue, we fix it and prepare for the next release.
While we at OnSong work hard to prepare for new changes from Apple, that doesn't mean other app developers or hardware vendors have followed the same course. We've seen many instances over the years where products that integrate with OnSong have not supported operating system changes right out of the gate, or more likely, have not effectively communicated those changes to users. Many times OnSong staff are reporting these issues to other companies as soon as we are made aware of a problem. While OnSong has in-house developers that can address problems in OnSong as they arise, many software firms do not and need to schedule bug fixes with their off-site teams. This means that compatibility issues may take months to correct. This happens frequently with well-known products and services, sometimes with Apple's own products and services. That's why we want you to be very cautious when you decide to update. It's not just about OnSong.
The Best Practice
It's a common best practice in the professional audio, video and production world to not update to the latest operating system. Major software companies may not recommend updating to the latest version of the operating system for months after release. While there is an occasional instance where we at OnSong may have missed something that Apple threw at us unannounced, we usually have all of those issues resolved once the operating system build stabilizes, typically within a month. OnSong typically releases an update alongside the major operating system release and then listens for feedback for the next month, making tweaks and workarounds for any and all reported issues that may arise.
Apple also continues to make major changes to its operating system as products are announced from September through early November. These have the potential of further compounding potential issues that may arise. In recent history, Apple has released a new update of its operating system about once every month through the end of the year. Each release equates to a new test cycle or the possibility of issues arising. So while we do continually test OnSong against this ever-changing environment, we can't test every configuration or chord chart in everyone's library and are doing so on a constantly shifting landscape. That said, if we know something is broken and can replicate the issue, we can fix it. So if you see something, say something! You can also join our beta team. The sooner we know of an issue, the sooner it can be addressed.
The Best Time To Update
As you can see, depending on Apple and other developers, it can take a long time to be assured of an absolute trouble-free upgrade process. If you don't need to use the latest features of the operating system and want absolute stability, there's absolutely no reason why you can't stick with what you have. Of course that's not meant to be a forever solution. Once we feel 99% confident that an iOS/iPadOS will not negatively impact you, we will make an announcement, usually in the middle of the fourth quarter of the year.
But You're Saying There's a Chance...
Yes, there's always a chance that something can go wrong during the update process. What we've found in the years we've done this is that the update process itself can be problematic. So make sure you backup up your library off of your device and give yourself plenty of time to perform the update. Don't do this right before a gig! Give yourself time to practice and work with all the software and hardware you depend on for your live performance. Just one week of time will mean less stress on you and will give vendors time to review any issues you may have and to provide assistance as needed.
If you do experience any issues, please report them within the OnSong app by going opening OnSong 2022, going into the Utilities Menu by tapping on the gear icon, choosing Support, and choosing Contact Us. Or if you are using OnSong 2020, go into the Utilities Menu by tapping on the gear icon, and choose Communicate and Get Support.