Technical analysis on iOS planned obsolescence

Discussion in 'iOS 9' started by bcodemz, Nov 5, 2015.

  1. bcodemz macrumors member

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    #1
    I want to do a technical analysis on the big issue of iOS slowing down our phones every year.

    Let's debunk some myths about iOS planned obsolescence.

    1) every new iOS version gains a lot more features. This is why it slows down.

    More features generally do not slow down an OS. Let me explain.

    Think about a feature as a separate tool. It does one function. If I have many separate tools, why should that affect the performance of a completely unrelated tool, such as scrolling? It can be understandable that the new features are slow on older iOS devices, but existing, unchanged features should be just as fast as before.

    Scrolling is the same from iOS 1 to now. It is an act of moving pixels from the left or right with some physics added as well. These calculations are the same, no matter how many features you have. iOS was smooth from iOS 1, not just smooth, it was PERFECTLY smooth no matter what. Think about it, Apple perfected scrolling on hardware hundreds of times *slower* than current iPhones.

    Windows 8/10 is a fantastic argument of this. Windows 8 and 10 has *far* more features than Windows 7. It added animations that simply weren't available in Windows 7. Yet, both OS are subjective *and* objectively faster than Windows 7. In fact, it is much faster subjectively than Windows 7. Oh and the animations? They are perfectly smooth running on an extremely underpowered Intel Atom CPU on a netbook. Windows managed to add a ton more features and animations while speeding up!

    2) The new features take more resources on the phone, so it slows down.

    Let's see why that's wrong. Say if the new features took up so much of the phone's resource that it caused the animations to lag. Let's assign an arbitrary number, say animations needs 80% of the CPU to be smooth, and the new features now take up 30% of the CPU, so now the animation can't get the full 80% of the CPU it needs to be smooth.

    This cannot be true. To achieve iPhone's current battery life, the CPU of the phone must be kept at the lowest power state to conserve power during standby or idle times. This usually means keeping the CPU below 2-3% usage most of the time. Going to even 5% CPU utilization is a large bump to the power state that greatly reduces battery life. This is why iOS heavily limits what apps can do in the background because just a bit of background usage can be a huge battery drainer.

    Therefore, any features that take up background resources must be very, very small, otherwise there is a HUGE impact on the battery life. And this is why the argument new features take more CPU resources does not hold.

    Now some arguments for planned obsolescence.

    1) How is it possible that the exact same actions, such as scrolling, or other UI animations, starts to lag in a new iOS? When they introduced parallax in iOS 7, those are different animations, then there is a case on why it might lag on older devices that can't handle the blur and physics as well. But simple UI animations that have been around since iOS 1 should never lag. It is doing the same thing.

    2) Say if the lags were actually because the code is so unoptimized that the hardware isn't powerful enough to support it, this means the CPU is being maxed out while doing these tasks. Then why isn't there a HUGE drop in battery life between smooth and laggy iOS versions?

    3) How is it possible the keyboard lags on older iOS devices? The keyboard is an incredibly lightweight program. The most it does is some spell check. How is it possible that it takes a few seconds to load the keyboard and have the keys not keep up with my typing? Why? Because keyboard lag is extremely noticeable to the user, and it pushes them to buy new devices to return to the previous swift speed.

    4) Have you ever used old iOS devices on old iOS versions? Check out the video of the iPhone 4S on iOS 5 vs iOS 8. Everything on iOS 5 shows up instantly, just as fast as the latest iPhones.



    I have an iPad 3 on iOS 7. The speed is unbelievable. If iOS was not purposely slowed down on older devices, there is actually very little reason to upgrade iPads. While there are often very nice hardware improvements on the iPhone that's worth upgrading to, people would experience very few speed improvements over new iPhones because they were so fast to begin with. And honestly, it doesn't take much chip power to make UI's fast and smooth. Apple demonstrated UI animation perfection from iOS 1 on the original iPhone's absolutely pathetic hardware. There should be no reason an iPhone with a CPU over 100x faster cannot do perfectly smooth animations.
     
  2. I7guy macrumors G5

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    #2
    I crashed safari multiple times on my phone 4 running iOS 7. Windows xp runs much better than Windows 7 or 8.1 on older hardware I have so I am not sure of your point. On newer hardware xp cannot keep up with the simultaneous workload as compared to windows 7 and above.

    As far as the rest you write a very nice "technical opinion" analysis.
     
  3. bcodemz thread starter macrumors member

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    #3
    You would probably crash Safari on iOS 6 or iOS 5 because you're hitting the RAM limit. If it is not because of RAM, then it is iOS 7 Safari's fault for premature crash.

    Yes, Windows XP does run better on trash hardware. I call them trash because that kind of hardware is much slower than phones. But it is also a 14 year old OS, not exactly a "fair" fight. Also, the underlying OS of XP is very very different from Vista and on. In fact, Vista was largely a rewrite of XP, so it shares far fewer underlying similarities than say Vista vs Windows 10. Windows Vista should be the starting point of comparison as every other version of Windows was essentially built on top of that. Noticed how Windows 10 > Windows 8 >> Windows 7 > Windows Vista in speed AND features?

    (On an off topic note. Many people hail Windows 7 as being the best OS and so much better than Vista, but it doesn't actually deserve the praise. Windows 7 is essentially Vista with the major stupid UI pain points taken away. There wasn't much underlying OS improvement. However, Windows 8 had an uncountable major underlying OS improvements over Windows 7, more improvements than any other iterative version of Windows (I want to say far more). This resulted in the huge efficiency and speedup (and a better OS in general) of Windows 8, but too bad people decided to singularly focus on the Metro UI annoyance, so all of Windows 8's technical brilliance was never given credit. )

    And haha yeah I originally intended to write this piece to explore a simplified view of the relationship between a CPU's power level and its battery life consequences, and what it means for the OS usage, as well as what are the conditions for lag to happen in plainer English. But then afterwards I wrote more and more "less technical" stuff.
     
  4. Jayson A macrumors 68000

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    #4
    Why would people want to upgrade to the NEW iPhone if their OLD iPhone still ran perfectly?

    Now that Apple has us upgraded to iOS 9, we can't downgrade, so we have to deal with our phones being slower. Then, that shiny new iPhone looks better than ever.
     
  5. I7guy macrumors G5

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    #5
    Security patches more functionality etc? My 6s is going to run iOS 10 just fine, but I still want an iPhone 7.
     
  6. I7guy macrumors G5

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    #6
    Isn't that the insinuation? Newer o/s on older hardware runs slower than older hardware on older o/s. I'm drawing a parallel to the Windows and Intel world.

    (Off-topic) Windows 8.1 is windows 7 with a few tweaks; Windows 10 is Windows 8.1 with a few tweaks therefore Windows 10 is vista plus a few tweaks. Except that Windows 7 was the best of the bunch, imo)
     
  7. bcodemz thread starter macrumors member

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    #7
    The point that I wanted to make, that I should have made clearer, is that if you look inside, Windows XP and Windows Vista are fundamentally different OS's since Vista was pretty much a completely rewritten OS. But, Windows Vista/7/8/10 were fundamentally the same OS down at the core, but with improvements with every version, and every version after Vista runs faster. Just like pretty much all iOS versions are largely fundamentally the same OS, but with improvements with every version, BUT every version is slower.
     
  8. I7guy macrumors G5

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    #8
    Vista certainly was not more rewritten from xp than iOS 7 was from iOS 6. At its core vista would run the same executable that could run just like iOS 7 could run the same app that iOS 6 could run. At this point iOS 7=iOS 8=iOS 9 except that iOS 7 is unstable compared to iOS 9 in som aspects.
     
  9. Beeplance macrumors 65816

    Beeplance

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    #9
    Security patches are updated through software updates, not by buying new iPhones - what Jayson is saying.

    New functionality? What does the iPhone 6S do that the iPhone 6 can't? Don't tell me 3D touch because that ain't a new feature, but merely a different way of doing the same task. So one should buy a new iPhone because of.... live photos?
     
  10. I7guy macrumors G5

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    #10
    Correct about patches and I wasn't implying that unless hardware makes the phone more secure.

    As far as why buy a new phone, 13 million were sold at launch; I don't know why so many bought; maybe because of Live Photos.
     
  11. Mlrollin91 macrumors G4

    Mlrollin91

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    #11
    Download System Status on your phone, it gives you real time CPU usage and you will see that your 2-3% and 5% figure are wrong. Just scrolling a giant block of text will cause resting CPU (4-6%) to jump upwards of 20-30%. That is just text scrolling. If just scrolling can take up 20-30% of CPU usage, imagine what animations are taking while the animation is occurring.

    CPU usage on an iPhone is never below 3% when nothing is happening on the phone. You can sit there and watch a real time CPU monitor and you will see, average resting CPU (nothing running but the CPU monitor) will remain between 4-6% all the time. Sometimes it drops to 3-3.5% but thats it.

    Also - To your first point about lag and scrolling vs. iOS 1. iOS is 10X larger now. There is a lot more going on and the processor has to shuffle a lot more information. So as resources are being used for the larger part of iOS, scrolling will suffer if that 30% CPU usage isn't available. It is no different with your point about keyboard lag. If resources are being used on a particular task, they are not available for another. That is why older hardware cannot keep up with newer software.

    As any OS gets bigger, performance is going to suffer unless you have the appropriate hardware to keep up with the resource demand. It has nothing to do with it working in iOS 1, so it should work in iOS 9.
     
  12. I7guy macrumors G5

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    #12
    That's wirth's law: software gets slower faster than hardware gets faster. :)
     
  13. teknikal90 macrumors 68030

    teknikal90

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    #13

    that doesn't answer the question!
     
  14. teknikal90 macrumors 68030

    teknikal90

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    #14
    Not true at all.

    They have the same kernel, but not the same 'OS'.

    number of APIs have increased dramatically. For one. Multitasking APIs, intelligence and integration of third party apps are all big parts of an OS.
    Let's not forget, 64 bit transition from iOS 7 onwards. Not a small deal at all.
     
  15. Jayson A macrumors 68000

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    #15
    That doesn't make sense. The only reason they HAVE to release faster hardware is because they make the software more demanding every year.

    If they hadn't "upgraded" the entire UI to Metal, iOS 9 would've been just as fast as 8.x on the iPhone 6 (because OpenGL has been proven to be faster than Metal for the time being).

    I don't know what they were thinking when they came up with Metal. They must've realized it wasn't up to par with OpenGL. Maybe they wanted their own graphics API because Apple likes to have control over EVERYTHING even though it was inferior to the standard OpenGL.

    The iPhone 6 is still a perfectly fast phone, but they had to slow it down to make the 6s seem like a worthwhile upgrade… otherwise, why would anyone want to change? 3D touch isn't really that impressive to me. It seems more like a gimmick than a well thought out feature.
     
  16. chekz0414 macrumors 6502a

    chekz0414

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    #16
    I personally buy a new iPhone due to pure specs. I upgraded from the 6 Plus to 6s Plus due to the specs, (RAM, CPU clock, GPU) all of these things contribute to a smoother experience on iOS at least for me. The iPhone 6 Plus wasn't powerful enough to handle its new screen resolution and its GPU wasn't strong enough for the graphics on a bigger screen. This was the same thing as the iPad 3, which Apple quickly replaced with the iPad 4. Apple upgraded everything this time in an attempt to fix the iPhone 6 era performance issues. (The Plus more so)
     
  17. I7guy macrumors G5

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    #17
    Sure it does. Poster asked if someone should buy a new iPhone due to Live Photos. That is not an answerable question, but I guess it could be the case.
     
  18. MEJHarrison macrumors 6502

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    #18
    A hammer is still a hammer and a screwdriver is still a screwdriver. That's true. But lugging that bag of tools around is going to get a lot harder when you throw 80 more tools into your bag. That's also true. And with all those additional tools it's going to take longer to find the tool you need. Another truth.

    Sorry, I'm not buying this (very poor) analogy. Then again, I'm a software developer (for about 25 years now) and don't buy this "planned obsolescence" nonsense either. If there were any truth to that, the latest phones would be awesome. Yet they seem to be suffering some of the same issues everyone else is experiencing. So is Apple trying to get everyone who purchased a phone last month to toss out their brand new device? And replace it with...?

    If you'd like to "prove" planned obsolescence, I'm going to need some actual facts and not some uninformed opinions from someone who clearly doesn't understand software development and how all this stuff actually works. I appreciate the effort. I'd love nothing more than for this argument to be settled once and for all. But it isn't going to be this thread that ends the ridiculous argument.

    This isn't a Technical Analysis, it's arm-chair quarterbacking.
     
  19. teknikal90 macrumors 68030

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    #19
    /thread
     
  20. Radon87000 macrumors 601

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    #20
    Yet the iPhone 6S plus still lags more than the iPhone 6s
     
  21. Yun0 macrumors 65816

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  22. chekz0414 macrumors 6502a

    chekz0414

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    #22
    Not really, Apple is working on it, and that shows in 9.2 beta. This really comes down to the software not being optimized for the hardware. This generation of iPhone can handle all the animations because if we compare the GPU and CPU it is more than capable Anandtech confirmed this.
     
  23. dukebound85 macrumors P6

    dukebound85

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    #23
    How is this a technical analysis? There are no numbers, no discrete comparisons, etc. All just words
     
  24. MikeyMike01 macrumors 6502

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    #24
    Maybe next we can prove Bigfoot is real.
     
  25. f77coder macrumors newbie

    f77coder

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    #25
    just get a developer account, get the old iOS and install it, no big deal.
     

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