Apple released its new mobile operating system, iOS 5 to customers on Wednesday. While it was billed as an improvement in usability, it seemed to create headaches for many users who attempted to download the operating system. Many experienced long download times as servers struggled to handle high demand. As Hayley Tsukayama reported :

Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 5 is now available for download from Apple’s servers, via the latest version of iTunes.

On Twitter, Apple fans are reporting download estimates of up to four hours as the company’s servers try to handle customers trying to download iOS 5 and Mac OS X Lion upgrades, which enable users to use the iCloud suite of services. Others are reporting problems connecting to iTunes at all.

The new operating system features several new features including a new messaging service, an Android-like central notifications center, a reminder system that can set location-based alerts and — after this initial install — over-the-air updates for the operating system.

To get the download, upgrade to iTunes 10.5, connect your device to your computer and click the “Update” button on the page that appears when you plug in your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.

But you may want to wait a couple of hours.

By Thursday morning many users who had braved the long download times experienced other glitches such as memory wiped off of devices and persistent error messages. As Hayley Tsukayama reported:

Apple customers are not happy after having problems upgrading to the new version of the iPhone’s mobile operating system, iOS 5, on Wednesday.

Taking to Twitter, Facebook and Apple’s support forums, users reported that their phones and tablets had been wiped — or worse, bricked. So many people were having problems with the update that the upgrading error message, “error 3200,” nabbed a spot as a worldwide trending topic on Twitter.

On Apple’s forums, several users reported similar stories to this one, from a user with the handle kxmx43: “Plugged into iTunes (fully updated) and downloaded iOS 5. Began installing and errored out. Lost everything. iPhone now stuck in Recovery Mode and won’t update to iOS 5.”

According to posts on the support forums, the company told users that 3200 errors meant that there was simply too much network traffic to process requests and that users should try again later. Others found that downloading the update straight from Apple’s Web site instead of upgrading from within iTunes worked more quickly, but that wasn’t the case for all users, Gizmodo reported.

For those whose phones were wiped or frozen, many found that resetting the device and restoring it from the back-up files on their computers took care of most of the problems.

Another feature of the rollout that had nagging technical issues: The much anticipated iCloud application, which would allow users to store content on the Web, accessible from mobile devices without using hard drive space. As Hayley Tsukayama reported:

The iCloud Web site, which has been in a beta mode for a couple months, also opened up Wednesday morning — but with a catch. The service requires you to log in from a device running iOS 5 or the latest version of Mac OS X Lion — which also hasn’t been released yet. iCloud is free for all iOS 5 and Lion users for up to 5 GB of storage.

Apple is requiring users to update iTunes and dig out that white USB cord one last time to pick up iOS 5. After that, you can get out your scissors and cut that cord (at least figuratively). Apple is promising to push out future updates to iOS 5 over-the-air instead of downloading incremental improvements through iTunes.

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