I love my iPhone, and have ever since the first iPhone was released many years ago. I’m at the point where I can’t imagine not having it around anymore. I know that the iPhone is a very small computer, and I know that problems occur in computers from time to time, and my phones have certainly had their share of software related issues. The part of the software problems that really annoys me though is that the recommended fix from the Genius Bar is always “try restoring your phone, and setting it up as a new phone”. I can get over having to manually install all my apps again, and manually changing all my settings back to the way that I had them. I have wiped my hard drive and started from scratch plenty of times throughout the years on my desktops. However, what I can’t get over is losing the saved data that is contained within the app and only exists inside my iPhone backup…which I’m being told not to use. It would be as if I was performing a fresh installation of Yosemite, but then being told that I can’t copy over any of the documents I created using the previous installation.
This is where I have a very big problem with calling the iPhone a computer. I know that some apps store their data in the cloud, so setting up an iPhone as a new device will still retrieve that data, but not all apps do, and I don’t want to lose the data that I worked hard to create all because something got screwed up in the OS. One great example is the Health App in iOS 8. While it’s data is backed up to iCloud, it’s contained in the general iPhone backup. Therefore, if you have to setup your phone as a new device, all that data is gone forever.
My suggestion would be for iOS backups to be split between System Generated Files and App Generated Files. The System Generated Files backup would contain everything that is generated by iOS such as Installed Apps, Homescreen Layout, Device Settings, etc. App Generated Files backup would contain everything else on the device such as App Settings, Health Data, App Documents, etc. During the restore process, the user would then be asked if they would like to use a backup of their System Files, then be given the choice to use a backup of their App Files. In the event of needed to “set up as a new phone”, the user would choose “NO” to using the System Files, but then “YES” to using their old App Files. I believe that this would accomplish the same thing from a diagnostic standpoint as the current method of “setting us as a new phone” because due to the security of iOS, I find it very hard to believe that any file generated by an App would be able to corrupt an OS file. However, in the event that the phone is still experiencing the original issue, the user could restore again, but this time choose not to use the backup of the App Files.