Apple's iOS 9.3 glitching some older iPads

Some iPad owners say their tablets are failing at the activation stage as they try to install the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system.

Apple's new iOS 9.3 software may not be playing nicely with some older iPads.

James Martin/CNET

Apple's new version of its mobile operating system is causing headaches for some owners of older iPads.

Certain older iPads are unable to install iOS 9.3 and are "bricking" at the activation stage, which means the update leaves them inoperable, according to posts on Apple's Support Communities site, tweets on the Apple Support Twitter page and readers of the AppleInsider site. The issue seems to affect the iPad 2 in particular, according to AppleInsider, which said users are receiving authentication error messages when they try to activate their iPads post-installation.

Regardless of how many times a new product is tested before it hits the market, random problems can crop up once it finds its way to millions of users. As always, the challenge for Apple is to figure out how pervasive the problem is and how to resolve it quickly enough to placate affected users. In 2014, the company got a black eye with iOS 8, which earned a reputation as unstable and forced Apple to roll out a series of bug fixes.

The new issue could be due to overworked Apple servers struggling to keep up with the large number of people trying to install the new software. But some iPad owners have been unable to activate their tablets even after waiting for 24 hours, AppleInsider said, which suggests a different type of problem.

"IOS 9.3 has bricked my iPad," said one Twitter user. "Please tell me there will be a fix?"

One person on Apple's Support Communities site said: "After installing software IOS 9.3, it could not be activated, I tried all the suggestions and none solve the problem. This morning I went to the Apple store in Aventura, FL. They were unable to activate my IPad nor restore it."

Some iPad owners said they were able to fix the glitch by connecting their devices to iTunes, while others said they had to perform a full restore.

Those with an older iPad, especially an iPad 2, may want to wait to update to iOS 9.3 until this situation is clarified. If you go ahead with the update, make sure to first back up your iPad to a computer or to iCloud so your data is preserved in the event of a glitch.

Apple did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.

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