Upgrading to a major new version of an Apple operating system isn’t something to do lightly. The upgrade process may consume precious time, you may need new software, and you’ll have to learn what’s new.
Despite these challenges, we always recommend that you upgrade. Why? The big but boring answer is security—security improvements come with most upgrades, and the more current you are, the better protected your data and devices are from the bad guys.
More obviously, new features often improve your Apple experience. For instance, Apple’s new macOS 10.13 High Sierra introduces the modern APFS filing system, which improves the underlying organization of data on your disk, radically speeding up some tasks, among many other benefits.
Finally, upgrading helps you keep pace with Apple. Any new Apple device you buy will run only the latest version of its operating system, and if the rest of your Apple gear isn’t up to date, your devices may not work together. By upgrading incrementally as new releases become available, you can take small, easy steps instead of being forced into big, potentially inconvenient leaps.
When should you upgrade? Here’s what we recommend for macOS 10.13 High Sierra, iOS 11, watchOS 4, and tvOS 11.
macOS 10.13 High Sierra. Because major changes to your Mac, such as High Sierra’s switch to APFS, can wreak havoc if things go wrong, we recommend waiting a few weeks or even months until 10.13.1 or 10.13.2 becomes available. This delay gives both Apple and third-party developers time to find problems and release fixes.
Don’t upgrade until you’ve checked that apps you rely on are compatible with High Sierra, and schedule your upgrade for a day when you don’t need to get much work done, just in case. Most of High Sierra’s changes aim to improve performance, so you probably won’t notice much different after upgrading, though some Apple apps, most notably Photos and Safari, do pick up new features.
iOS 11. With most iOS releases, including iOS 11, we recommend waiting a few days or a week to let Apple address any major problems. For iOS 11, because iOS 11 removes support for older 32-bit apps, make sure to check your favorite non-Apple apps in the App Store to ensure they’re compatible with iOS 11.
After that, you’re good to go, but don’t try to upgrade your iPhone right before you need to head out the door—it can take a while for the software to download and the upgrade process to complete. iOS 11 has significant changes, particularly on iPads, so give yourself time to explore the new Dock, redesigned Control Center, and new Files app.
watchOS 4. Upgrade your Apple Watch using the iPhone’s Watch app after you upgrade your iPhone to iOS 11. There’s no downside, and watchOS 4 doesn’t make major changes that will take time to learn. You might like the intriguing new Siri watch face that pulls data from various apps—including Calendar and Reminders—to guide you through your day, and the capability to switch the app icon cloud to a simple scrolling list is tremendously welcome.
Beware that upgrading to watchOS 4 take several hours and ties up your iPhone while you’re installing, so it’s probably best started at bedtime.
tvOS 11. You can upgrade your Apple TV right away, and, in fact, it may upgrade itself before you get a chance, since the default in Settings > System > Software Updates is for upgrades to install automatically. With the upgrade in place, try the new automatic dark/light switch that changes the interface color based on time of day (Settings > Appearance > Automatic). If you use AirPods with your AppleTV, they should now connect automatically if your Apple TV is using the same iCloud account as your iPhone.
It’s not always easy to find the time to run Apple’s installers and learn new features, but these upgrades are a step forward. You may not end up using every new feature, but you’ll likely find several that will improve your daily Apple experience.