5 tips to speed up older devices running iOS 7

You can breathe new life into your older device with a few simple tricks to make apps load faster and make the overall device seem much speedier running iOS 7.

iOS 7 tips

iOS 7.1 has already greatly improved the speed within the mobile operating system, but if you're running an older device that still supports iOS 7, you may have noticed that while the device operates, the animations and some of the other features of the OS still seem sluggish. Here are five tips that will make your older device running iOS 7 feel much snappier and can help you breathe new life into them.

1. Remove background processes

If you've enabled some of the iOS background processes, like automatic downloads, then what you may not know is that iOS will routinely check for updates and install them automatically. This can happen at almost any time, and if it happens while you're using an older device, then you may find the OS to be a bit sluggish. However, automatic downloads can eat away at the available CPU on your device during the time of the downloads and installs.

Fortunately, you can disable automatic downloads very easily. Just follow these steps:

  1. Open Settings | iTunes & App Store
  2. De-select Music, Apps, Books, and Updates from the Automatic Downloads section (Figure A)

Figure A

Figure A
Disable Automatic Downloads.

By doing this, you must manually update your apps by visiting App Store | Updates | Update All whenever there's an update available. However, on the plus side, disabling this feature can make for a snappier device if you have a lot of apps that are consistently receiving updates. Turning off the Music, Apps, and Books feature means that when you purchase one of these items on the iTunes Store from another device, your device will not automatically download that item. You can still manually re-download these purchases by visiting iTunes Store | More | Purchased.

2. Kill the parallax, blur, transparency, and motion effects

With iOS 7, Apple relies on new user interface and user experience elements like blurring, transparencies, and parallax, but all of these features can slow down an otherwise speedy device. Even on newer devices, disabling this feature will make it seem like apps are opening and performing faster.

Disabling the parallax feature of iOS 7 not only helps out with speeding up the device, but it can also preserve your battery life. To disable the parallax feature, follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to Settings | General | Accessibility
  2. Select Reduce Motion, then enable this feature to Reduce Motion (Figure B).

Figure B

Figure B
Disabling the Parallax feature of iOS 7.

Reducing the motion means that the CPU will not have to process and react to the accelerometer sensor in your device when tilting in order to make UI changes visible on the screen.

By enabling this feature, you will not harm the features of accelerometer-based applications -- they will still behave normally.

Disabling transparency will alleviate some of the extra strain on an older device's CPU when creating the live blur. To disable blurring and transparency in features like the navigation bar in applications and the Control Center, perform the following steps:

  1. Navigate to Settings | General | Accessibility
  2. Select Increase Contrast, then enable Reduce Transparency (Figure C).

Figure C

Figure C
Enable Reduce Transparency.

Once transparency has been disabled, the Control Center and other UI elements that utilize the live blur will display a solid background (Figure D) instead of the semi-transparent overlay.

Figure D

Figure D
Solid background is displayed.

3. Clear up space

In a previous article, we showed you how to clear up space on your iOS device. We cannot stress how valuable it can be to have extra space on your device. Not only does it mean that you can have more space to install new applications and iOS updates, but it also means that applications open, save, and close faster due to the device overhead being much lighter.

Follow the steps in our previous article to learn how you can clean up this space and have a better iOS device overall.

4. Keep the updates rolling in

If Apple has shown us anything, it's that it releases updates, then reiterates until the OS is operating at top notch. They most recently showed us this with the iOS 7.1 update.

Ensuring that you have the latest software update means that any software-related slow downs can be easily fixed by the manufacturer. To check for device updates, perform the following steps:

  1. Navigate to Settings | General
  2. Select Software Update (Figure E)

Figure E

Figure E
Make sure you have the latest software update.

If a software update is available, you'll be able to install in this area; if not, then you'll be told that your device is already up-to-date. Ensuring that you've gotten the latest update installed on your device means that any software-related issues concerning the speed of the device can be fixed by the updates.

5. Turn off Background App Refresh

With iOS 7, applications can be awoken during a push notification so that they can perform small tasks (under 30 seconds) to keep the application content updated when you use the application. The only problem here is that when an application is constantly being awoken via push notifications and eating away at the CPU that could be devoted to another application, you may get a slow down on your device.

Fortunately, if you are experiencing this issue, you can disable the Background App Refresh feature by performing the following steps in iOS 7:

  1. Open Settings | General
  2. Select Background App Refresh
  3. Disable the Background App Refresh feature (Figure F)

Figure F

Figure F
Disable the Background App Refresh feature.

Note that in this section, you can also disable the Background App Refresh (BAR) feature on just the applications that you specify. The only apps that appear in this section are registered for BAR, allowing you to narrow down the culprit that's abusing this feature to utilize more CPU time than normal.

Once it's disabled, this feature can return your device to a normal speed. However, not all devices support the BAR feature, so you may not have this on your device.

Final thoughts

We've shown you five tips to make your device speedier, but there are many more ways to ensure that your device is performing at its optimum. Do you have any other tips or tricks for speeding up your iOS device? Let us know in the discussion thread below.