back to article iPhone upgrades - a one-way control-freak street

For over 30 years, your personal computer has been, well, your personal computer. You could install whatever software you liked - provided it was compatible. After installing an app or an operating system, if you then decided you preferred the previous version, you were free to uninstall the new and revert to the old. But …


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  1. Anton Ivanov

    Not just apple

    Welcome to the world of Mobile

    Ever tried downgrading Symbian? Want to try? You are welcome to. NO GO.

  2. cj100570
    Thumb Up

    And That's Why I'm An Ex iPhone Customer

    I gave up on the iPhone in February of this year. It's a nice piece of tech but I'm from the old school where smartphones are concerned. I like to be in charge of what and how it does things for the most part. With Apple and the iPhone that's just not possible. But as long as the iZombies keep blindly tossing their dollars at Cupertino nothing will ever change. As for me, I gave my money to RIM and now to Google/Android. With their phones I can store my files wherever I want, I'm not forced to sync with their software, and I can get my apps from wherever I want and use an version I want. And at the end of the day isn't that what I should be able to do with "My Phone"?

  3. Albert Gonzalez

    Going the Apple way

    I was mulling the possibility of moving our small office to apple hardware, because of the 'Just Works' moniker, and the (at least on paper), perceived good value of the iMac i7 machines.

    Of clourse, that would pave the way to purchase Apple software, and use iPhones

    Then, as the decision times are looming ... the tide of reports of faulty hardware ( DOA iMacs ), bad customer experience, and closed environement for the sotware is making me reconsider the whole thing.

    Probably we'll continue as we are now, purchasing build to order PCs from our friendly local store, with Debian, and perhaps, money permiting, some of those 30in HP displays, which, after all, is the MOST important part of any interactive computer (servers and embedded do not need no stinkin' displays)

    Pitty, i was willing to play with a Snow Leopard .... and face it against a penguin ... but seems the Leopard has defaulted.

  4. Andy 3

    Roll back to previous app version

    It appears to be possible to roll back to a previous app version if you have the previous version synced in iTunes (ie your iPhone has not been synced since the upated app was installed)

    1) Delete the offending new version of the app from the iPHone

    2) Connect iPhone to iTunes

    3) Sync applications

    4) Old version back on iPhone

    This has been necessary to do since the developer of the RedLaser app wrecked it with an update yesterday. The developer replaced useful search engines with one that appears to be less capable and offers erroneous results (particularly in the UK). Check out the App store's reviews and the developer's support forum since this update was released and you will see how annoyed people are with this update to a once great app.

    You'll also see that many people have taken the steps above to get the old version of the app back

  5. gautam

    No its NOT

    BY the very own words, you are not the owners. Ties to Umbilical cords of software, you only own a piece of hardware. As Jobs would have said, its in the software, man!

    The whole licensing regime needs to change for you to own the software (apps). Bcos the license can be revoked/invoked and you have signed to the T&Cs, its a binding agreement and contract.

    Rant as much as you want, its not gonna change anytime soon, TILL the licensing regime is changed and be treated as a product, which can then come under consumer rights, Health & Safety, suitable for the purpose, etc etc..

    "Customer experience" is such an abused and misleading term these days, anything goes under that!

    Till then get stuffed guys. Its friday and drown your sorrows and find the meaning of life.

  6. Mike Scott

    Apps can be reverted

    You can revert to an earlier version of an app, though it's a bit fiddly. Instructions here (for Mac users):

  7. big_D Silver badge

    On the other hand...

    At least you get updates... My WindowsMobile 'phone hasn't had any updates since the day I bought it. No bug fixes, no new features, no way to upgrade to the current version of Windows Mobile...

    My iPhone, on the other hand gets regular updates and bug fixes... Guess which one I use the most?

    So far I haven't experienced any major problems with my iPhone updates - the first 3GS I got was defective and was replaced; although German consumer law means that the supplier (T-Mobile) has to try and repair it 3 times, before it is replaced. After the third time it was returned as "working, no fault found", but died within an hour of receiving it, I kicked up a stink in the T-Mobile shop and got a replacement sent to me.

    Since then, it has been working fine and the directors here are happy with their iPhones - they switched from Blackberrys.

  8. Asphy
    Thumb Down

    It's irritating

    I remember thinking just this when the update from 2.2 to 2.2.1 completely borked my iPhone. Whilst all appeared to be running just fine when I left for a family visit that morning the inability to send texts, immediately dropped calls and no access to Internet soon became apparent when I reached my destination. Being in the middle of absolute nowhere with no way or contacting anyone certainly didn't help. I tried for the full 3hrs of laptop battery to revert the damn thing back to 2.2 before giving up, getting back on the train and heading to the nearest populated town to find a phone box. Annoying as hell!

  9. Dave Ross

    I love how...

    Apple's definition of "best user experience" seems to include crashes and rapid battery drain...

    I skipped the upgrade from 3.0 to 3.1 entirely so that I could avoid this "best user experience" after hearing about the problems with 3.1.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I predict a day

    When your smartphone will transmit all it's data back to a central authority to verify you're being a good citizen, and when the microphone and video can remotely be turned on to confirm you are not discussing subversive things.

    The law is in place to permit this (see that 2008 terrorism act, it permits any data grab for any reason), the technology for this is iPhone ready and the political will to treat citizens as criminals has been there for years.

    "“Do you want to live in a society where everyone is considered a potential criminal?”, asked Will Self on Question Time last Thursday. The reality, and I hate to break it to you, Will, is that everyone is a potential criminal."

  11. Chris Procter
    Paris Hilton

    Trust is the issue, but not the way you think

    I used to have a winmob device a few years ago, and it let me do pretty much anything I want. I hated it. I found I had little interest in the intricacies of the device and got rid of it in favour of a normal phone, a samsung d900. Bear in mind that whilst u claim no expertise, I work in IT so therefore have more knowledge most people I know.

    The big success of the iPhone is that it has opened up the smartphone Market to people who have no real technical knowledge. The kind of people who are frightened of technology. The kind of person who scratches their head when you tell them they need to update their firmware. Tell them they can choose to remove that update and their eyes gloss over and they lose all interest. "Just make it work"

    I accept that this is a ballache if a duff version of the OS comes out and you are stuck with it until a fix comes out, but if Apple keep dishing out unusable versions, then they have no in to blame but themselves if their figures go tits up.

    Paris, because she just works

  12. This post has been deleted by its author

  13. Bryan Anderson
    Paris Hilton

    Point that seems to be missed..... that Apple aren't FORCING anyone to buy an iPhone. Although I personally don't like the over-control that Apple seem to be applying to the iPhone, it's not the only touchscreen smartphone/mp3 player/games player out there.

    Paris as I am sure there have been times when she would have liked to revert to a prior version of herself.

  14. g e

    So get an Android

    My HTC Magic free handset upgrade arrived from Vodafone with no network lock-in and I can install what the hell I like on it from either the Android apps marketplace or anywhere else that provides a standard installer package. The new monthly plan for the phone actually worked out cheaper by about 30 quid, too, compared to monthly bills on the previous tariff.

    Quality job. Nuff said.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Your point is?

    Apple are crap, their products are over priced, over hyped locked down pieces of crap.

    If you bought one and you cant do what you want with it - live with it or get a non apple device.

    Doesn't anyone learn?

  16. MattW

    One more reason

    to go with an Android phone.

    Sure they aren't as quite as slick as iPhones (yet) but at least you have control and don't have to repeatedly drop your trousers and let Apple have its way with you.

  17. shaunm

    master reset

    They should just build in a master reset in like most phone manufacturers. Atleast it would revert to a stable verision of the os and everything should be backed up anyway on your mac / pc. This would seem a sensible thing but this would require apple to admit there tight controls might fail.* did i just see a pig fly*

  18. Thomas Davie
    Jobs Halo

    Quite right too

    You only need to look at how much flack Microsoft catches for their customers not updating to see why an ultra-hard line approach is so appealing.

  19. SuperTim
    Jobs Horns

    Happy with the arrangement.

    I am more than happy with the £1000 cost over 2 years for my iphone for a locked out device that can only use apple approved software. It suits my keen interest in not having any say in how i use my own stuff.

    If you will permit me to use a "Homerism" on reciprocity.

    - I help Steve Jobs and he, inturn, is helped by me!

  20. Anonymous Coward


    "If an update [to an iPhone app] introduces a bug, then you're screwed until the developer fixes it and the fix is approved by Apple (say 3 weeks)."

    ...or you restore your iPhone from a backup.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up


      What does every sane person know to do before upgrading _any_ software? That's right: make a back-up. Apple even provide a mind-numbingly simple way to back up your data...

      1. bygjohn
        Thumb Up

        Exactly x 2

        And if you upgrade apps via iTunes on your desktop (as opposed to on the phone itself), it backs the phone up before applying the updates anyway. Not sure if you can even change that behaviour, which is what it defaulted to doing for me.

  21. Spbmssen

    It isn't though, is it?

    Is it not true that, if you are on any sort of monthly phone contract, then you don't actually own your phone? Sure, the network will recoup the cost of it from you through monthly fees but if you read the small print the phone is their property.

    The fact that no network ever attempts to recover phones when contracts end has maybe led us all to believe otherwise.

    Or am I wrong? Shall I get my coat?

    1. Tim Cook

      Get your coat

      Perhaps it varies by company, but I'm pretty sure you're wrong, certainly in the UK anyway. The phone is entirely yours from the day you sign the contract - it's that signed contract that commits you to paying £x per month for however many months, not your possession of the phone itself. Sure, if you don't pay, the phone might be one of the items the bailiffs eventually reposess to recoup the cost, but don't imagine they'll stop there. A mobile phone contract is *not* a hire contract, you're paying them for service and they're giving you the phone as a come-on.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Sorry Tim...

        Until you have paid off the contract, the phone is the operators. Think of it like a mortgage. Yes the property is yours on paper, but the mortgage lender owns the property until the mortgage is paid in full. Same goes for *any* phone bought with a contract.

        1. Tim Cook


          You've persuaded me to check my contract to make sure, but I'm pretty sure you're wrong, and repeating a popular misconception here. If I default on my £30pm contract with 6 months still to go, O2 and their collectors are going to come and take £180 (or goods to the value of) plus costs - my phone (which I could easily have sold, lost, or broken along the way) is completely incidental to that.

          Or are you suggesting that they'd also add the cost of the phone to any claim against me?

        2. Tim Cook

          My iPhone, not O2's

          I'm just obsessive enough to follow this up with the answer, and I'm right - taken from the O2 terms and conditions for 3G iPhone contracts -

          "2.4 The Equipment that we deliver to you or which is collected by you, become your responsibility once it is collected or received by you at which time ownership will pass to you, subject to paragraph 2.5. 2.5 If you bought your Equipment or SIM Card directly from us and it is defective, not in accordance with any description given to you by us, not reasonably fit for purpose or it develops a fault you will be able to return it for repair and, if appropriate, replacement or refund. Please contact Customer Services for details. You should call us as soon as possible if any of the circumstances above apply to you to ensure that you are able to exercise any rights you have. Alternatively, if you experience any difficulties with your Equipment within 1 year of purchasing it, you can contact the manufacturer for replacement or repair under the manufacturer's warranty service detailed in the User Guide(s). This does not affect your statutory rights."

          Full T&C's here if you can bear it -

          The long and short of it is, the agreement to supply you with a handset is conditional upon you taking out the contract, but once that contract is binding ownership of the phone passes entirely to *you* - and I'm sure this is the case with pretty much every mobile contract on every network, at least in the UK.

          Not sure why this is so consistently misunderstood by people.

  22. lukewarmdog

    Best experience?

    "Apple always recommends that iPhone customers keep current with software updates for the best user experience."

    It's a bit presumptive to say that the current version is the best experience. People, being people and code being what it is, surely even Apple might be forced to admit that for some the latest version of any given thing might not be the best experience. I can think of a recent example. That's what I'd like to see Apple say, if it's possible to break through the mantra of course.

  23. Danny 14

    Not really a "right" though is it?

    Did you really expect to be able to self modify your apple phone? Really? Of course apple wont support backwards upgrades. There are reasons for apple releasing 3.1 - probably some jailbreaking protection (I dont generally follow apple things for precisely the reason this "rant" covers, and I havent played with my wifes 3GS at all - outside of setting up IMAP for her ).

    Apple are control freaks. Well of course they are, did you really think otherwise? The correct course of action if a forced OS upgrade degrades your phone is via consumer protection laws. That is the only way apple will budge and give you an alternative phone. Good luck proving that it was working perfectly before the upgrade though.

    If you want to tinker with your phone then dont buy an apple phone. Buy a winmo or symbian phone. Hell ive taken my omnia to the brink of bricking before now. It is flashed with HTC touchflo and win6.5 sure its no jesus phone but I wanted a phone I could tinker with.

    The average joe doesnt want to tinker in the same way I do. In fact they just want things to work, hence why apple is doing so well because (for the better part of things) it DOES work. Complaining that they wont let you choose which OS they should give you is a waste of time, of course they wont. I'm surprised they even let you change the battery....

  24. Edwin


    because as long as consumers happily keep buying iPhones by the iMillion, Apple doesn't have to (and indeed - won't) care what developers think.

    Especially if the application upgrade introduces bugs - because consumers will blame the developer for a buggy app, rather than blame Apple for a iDiot software model.

    Sad, but ultimately very true, and one key reason I won't by an iPhone (not that I imagine this upsets Apple in any way)

  25. Andy Watt

    Blimey Rik, take a chill pill mate

    Have you heard of the Young Ones, a comedy show we had here in the UK many years ago? Your namesake got as angry as you do about control by an overlord (in his case, it was a fascist landlord).

    You are expending far too much energy trying to take apart Apple's approach - I worked in mobile phone engineering for 7 years in protocol and UI, and trust me, the existing mobile phone manufacturers are frankly shite at software quality. If Apple's approach seems heavy handed, I think it may be the only way decent stuff gets out to market and stays there. At least it's simple - and that'll be one of the main drivers, not having to endlessly support old versions of your OS.

    This is the same kind of anger vortex we keep seeing from geeks and hackers who seem to be incredibly upset by not being able to wrestle with the guts of the iPhone. But jailbreak it, install an SSH client and you've got yourself a worm unless you're bright enough to change the default password.

    Find something else to rant about - there are plenty of other things like (in the PC domain) the security aspects of trying to keep a windows machine safe and still have it run reasonably, or trying to get newish hardware working with Linux, or (in the mobile domain) trying desperately to get SonyEricsson or Nokia to put out a mobile which doesn't have crap software at launch. The Satio and Aino (sp?) debacle from SE shows just how bad things are with the "old guard" of the mobile phone industry. Moto ain't doing a whole lot better although I with their foray into Android much success. HTC seem to be doing well, but skinning WinMo feels like silk purse / sows ear no matter how you cut it. Their android output looks good, mind.

    Deep breaths. Relax.

  26. Andrew Baines Silver badge
    Gates Halo

    And the story is?

    Everyone knows that Apple are control freaks who don't view you as owning their device. If you don't like it, don't buy.

    I'm sticking to my Windows Mobile 6.1, warts and all.

  27. jubtastic1

    How to revert iPhone Apps

    1) You need the old version, this is placed in the Trash when you update so if you haven't emptied it you can drag it to your desktop, otherwise use your backups* to restore it to the desktop.

    2) Delete the current App from your phone and iTunes (Right click on App).

    3) Double click previous App you dragged to the desktop, it will be imported to iTunes.

    4) Sync.

    *you do backup right?

  28. Jonathan White

    More bl33ting..

    With contract iphones doesn't it technically belong to the telco until the contract expires?

    I general, given that is Apple's stated policy, it seems incongruous to suggest they would provide mechanisms or support that go against that policy. Whether that policy is the one we may want (or indeed is sensible) is a separate issue to that. Apple has that policy and all the systems it develops follow that policy. I for one am not entirely surprised by that.

    At the end of the day, if you don't like the way the Apple system works, there are plenty of alternative phones you could get that do more or less the same job.

    1. Paul 4


      No. At least in the UK the phone is yours. Part of the requierment of being given the phone is that you take out the contract, but once the contract is final the phone is yours to do with as you wish. The problem is apple don't see it that way.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns


    Just don't get yourself tied into the Apple ecosystem in the first place. Personally I would never give my money to a company that wants the level of control that Apple insist on. My device, I bought it outright (NOT licensed) I will do what the hell I like with it

  30. David 105
    Jobs Horns

    All your iPhones are belong to us!

    Seriously, what did you expect? You can't know better than apple, otherwise you'd be working for them. They know best about all aspects of their kit, and an ignorant pleb such as you could never hope to understand! You should be honored that St Jobs allows you to even gaze upon one of his creations.

    For the final word on this, it's over to the Daily Mash

  31. Apocalypse Later

    Shiny toy

    Yes, Rik, it's your iphone. You bought it and now you are stuck with it. I hope at least you got it cheap. No?

  32. Sordid Details
    Jobs Horns

    Time Machine?

    Being a scaredy-cat and not wanting to muck up my lovely new iPhone 3GS I've not tried this myself, but I'm wondering if Time Machine would help here? If you can roll back any file or folder to a snapshot at a previous point in time, if an App Store upgrade fails then could you restore your iTunes library to the state it was in before the update? Or would the newer version on the iPhone overwrite the older restored version at the next sync? Because as we know, Apple always recommends that iPhone customers keep current with software updates for the best user experience...

  33. Dan Wilkinson

    Good article, spoiled somewhat by being disengenuous.

    Let's take the phone out of the equation and repeat the question in hand (for at least one aspect of the article anyway):

    I upgrade my computer from AmigaDos 23, to AmigaDos 24. Then I back it up. Then I decide to downgrade my computer back to AmigaDos 23 using a fresh install. Then I try to restore my data using my AmigaDos 24 backup software and dataset. Anyone see a problem here?

    I have an extra step which spoils your results - before upgrading to AmigaDos 24, take a full backup of AmigaDos 23 including your apps, and save it somewhere. Then, when you need to revert, revert using a restore from this backup, not a fresh install!

    The fact that you have to downgrade iTunes is a bummer, but it's no different to needing to restore a Netbackup backup for a server using a client that matches the server that was used to make the image.

    This is all perfectly normal behaviour for any computer system, the phone is not particularly different.

    Also, there is no need to do the DFU finger dance to revert to a previous OS anyway, just click Shift-Restore in iTunes and choose the version you wish to use. Done.

    The Apps is another matter, but there are ways of doing it that again are not so different to doing it with any other app on any other OS. The trouble is that iTunes will only hold 1 version of any app you have downloaded, and because you choose the file and it downloads it for you, you don't exactly get a choice of filename or location, so a new version always overwrites the old one. Also, iTunes will only hold the very latest, not an archive of previous versions. This doesn't mean you cannot re-install the old one - on the assumption that you are a sensible user who takes backups, you can just restore it into this area from your own backup, remove the app from the phone, then sync again. On a Mac this is as simple as locating the directory where the apps are saved, firing up time machine, choosing your app file, and rolling back until you find the older one. Shouldn't be much different on Windows assuming you actually take backups (and if you don't, you have no right to complain about the lack of ability to restore to past versions...)

    This isn't ideal, it passes the responsibility for archiving to the user, but it's perfectly possible, and no different to keeping hold of old downloads that eventually get removed online (I have versions of Skype saved from way back, because they are Win98 compatible and are no longer downloadable - don't ask!).

    What the article doesn't touch on, which is worthy of further investigation, is the whole business of storing your user data within the actual application bundle. Restoring an app to a previous version may well have the effect of restoring your data to the same point in time. This is more of an issue than having to understand a little about backup and restore for the OS and apps, as most people are probably not aware of how all this works. I don't fully understand it myself to be honest, because many apps seem to be able to retain my data on an upgrade, so it's not as simple as just swapping over the binary for the new version. I suspect that the single downloadable file contains a data area inside that iTunes knows to pull out and copy into the new download, and that any new version must be written to be able to understand that data if there have been changes to the underlying structure - theoretically if may be possible to pull the data (if you have changed it and want to keep it) from the new version, and shoe-horn this into the old version, but there's nothing to see it will work or the old version will understand it.

  34. twunt

    How about a 'skip this upgrade' option for apps too?

    This can also be annoying if a developer decides to release an update that adds things you either don't need (eg additional language support), or don't want (ad feeds fro example).

    If you upgrade to find that adware has been inserted to one of your apps, you are stuck with it. If you choose not to upgrade, you will permenantly be stuck with an update badge on your App Store icon, and you can never use the 'Update All' option again.

  35. dogged


    That's why I quite like my WinMob phone. It's MY phone. Not Apple's.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Check your licensing agreement!

      The *hardware* is yours, but the software that runs on it is the property of the developer.

      1. Danny 14


        but you can freely change the software as you see fit.

  36. zooooooom


    I for one can't see why anyone would buy a computing platform that doesn't allow you to install the software you choose. Silly silly Register. Right I'm off to install a web browser on my xbox, ciao.

    1. Pandy06269
      Paris Hilton

      Of course it's my choice

      Of course it does! Both Apple and the iPhone.

      The applications I have running on my Mac aren't those that Apple have forced upon me - they're ones _I've chosen_ to install.

      Paris - because she thinks that Apple chooses her software, too.

      1. Nordrick Framelhammer

        Of course it is ypour choice pandy06269

        You can install any spoftware you choose to, from anywhere, withput any restriction being placed on what you canm install in any way whatsoever.

        Oh wait, that's right. You own an iPhone, so you can only install software thaty has been approved by His Holy Exaltedness Steven Jobs through his cult of Jobscientology.

  37. Julian Bond
    Jobs Horns


    "there is a finite number of devices on which an Ad Hoc build will run". What is it, I wonder, which controls this?

    There is a solution to this, but it's one that Apple probably wouldn't like. And that's to do as Firefox does. There's an App store. Installing and upgrading from the App store is trivial. But you can install an App from a 3rd party website providing you mmake a couple of extra clicks to say "I know this is dangerous, but I want to do it anyway".

    I don't buy the "security of the phone system" argument. If the iPhone exposes APIs that are dangerous and could affect the security of the phone system, then it's broken and should be fixed.

    As for one way upgrades, I think this really applies to all software thes days. We want automatic or at least painless upgrade systems, and the price for that is that there's no going back. It doesn't really matter what software environment you're talking about.

  38. MisterIrrelevant

    Wouldn't you be able to use time machine for this?

    Since iTunes stores a copy of applications then wouldn't you be able to delete it from the phone, restore a pre-update backup of your machine then resynch the old version of the app onto it?

    Obviously a PitA, but surely worth a try?

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can we get over the iPhone

    It's a consumer device. Apple treats it like a consumer device. My geek friends treat it like a consumer device (they don't own it). My non-geek friends treat it like a consumer device (they do own it). If you want to talk tech, let's focus on Android or Nokia or SE.

  40. Anonymous Coward

    It's your phone...

    ... but the software on it is only licensed, not sold, so you're restricted by the software license. At lease, that's how I understand it all to work.

    iPhone backups only work with the OS version they were created with, plus newer versions can restore from them. They don't contain the apps, just the data. It's possible to pull the data out from a backup and restore it into an older version of the OS if you're jailbroken and bored, but typically it's more effort than it's worth just to get your high score in a game. For real apps they typically sync with a desktop or cloud so your data is easy to get at.

    The article implies that only going upwards in terms of versions is a bad thing. I disagree... better that they spend their resource fixing the bug quickly rather than having everyone "dipping their toes in" and the potential of failed reverts. Upgrades typically change data formats (for internal data) so a revert would have to roll that back. You might have upgraded an app that only supports the new OS, etc.

    If it were easy everyone would be doing it.

    Lets turn to a Microsoft OS software upgrade. You upgrade your version of Windows from Vista to Windows 7 in-place. Is there a way to back out? A simple way?

    Same for OSX. If I'm on Leopard and in-place upgrade to Snow Leopard, can I roll back easily?

    i.e. upgrades typically are difficult to revert from.

  41. MattFallon
    Thumb Up

    Possible solution to the App Rollback

    I haven't tested this, but I have installed applications in this way before without downloading them from the App Store

    The applications are located in the following directory "%iTunes Media Folder Location%\iTunes\Mobile Applications" and are stored in ipa format.

    Before you process an upgrade make a copy of the ipa file in your mobile applications folder. Once upgraded if you wanted to downgrade again you should delete the app from your device and Mobile Applivcations folder and then copy the old version in to iTunes and it will add it back to the mobile applications folder.

    I have found that applications deleted from the iPhone as opposed from being deleted from iTunes sometimes stop being synced so you would need to go in to the sync properties for your device and select that the application is sync's again, this should upload the old version of the application.

    I have tested this with the Sky News application which just happened to want an update today and it worked fine. Hopefully I have described the process correctly.

    I also think that this could be applied to the firmware downgrade process. In order to restore your device itunes keeps a copy of the firmware in the following location (running windows 7);

    %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\iTunes\iPhone Software Updates

    I have a feeling that you may be able to replace this file with an older version of the firmware to roll back to a previous release by using the iTunes restore process. Not tested, just a theory.

    Hopoe this makes sense. It definitely works for the apps :)

  42. Tim Cook

    Yes but no

    It's your iPhone, but it's their software. If you choose to upgrade your iPhone or its apps (and you do always have a choice), they aren't morally or legally obligated to then help you re-use the older, almost certainly buggier software that they're trying to phase out.

    In this case it's a particularly awkward example as 3.1 included some beneficial changes that required a new version of Itunes to work (mainly the new application synching). So no, backups from 3.1 aren't likely to play nicely with Itunes 8, but that's just the downside to progress. Progress is good, right?

  43. RichyS
    Black Helicopters

    Whose phone is it?

    Actually, if you bought the iPhone on contract from O2, it's probably O2's phone. Throw that into the mix...

    More seriously, I can see the attraction from Apple's perspective of ensuring everyone has the same version of software. Lots of people running around with different versions is a support nightmare -- that's one of the reasons why your work laptop probably has a standard build.

    Having said that, it's vitally important that the testing and QA process for new releases is solid. While it's nice to have everyone on the same version, it's not nice to have everyone's device functioning incorrectly because everyone's on the same version of rubbish. This is the bit I don't think Apple have quite right yet.

    Reverting to a previous version of an app should only be required if there really is a new bug in the new version. Do we know if Apple have a process for hoiking the new build out of the app store and 'updating' everyone to the previous version? Since the previous version already has the Apple seal of approval, it should be a matter of moments to revert. That way you can retain the primary objective of ensuring a single version of the app, /and/ ensure that no-one has a buggy version. Maybe you could ask your tame spokesdroid that question.

    Black helicopter icon, as El Reg seems to think there's an Apple conspiracy against them.

    1. SuperTim


      It aint o2's. When you bought the phone, you bought the hardware with an agreement to pay for airtime. You own the hardware and are obliged to pay for airtime for a minimum period.

      Strange how nobody seems to understand that.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Seems reasonable to me.

    Apple's success is based on its ability to make computer products that are usable by the clueless or those who simply do not want to use a product without spending the time trying to figure out how it works (those who can work a microwave but cannot program a VCR). The vast majority of people who buy an iPhone will want Apple to look after it for them, they don't want flexibility because flexibility requires thought. Most people have enough hassle trying to keep their home PC working, the last thing they want is the same hassle from a telephone.

  45. Ben Morgan
    Jobs Horns

    AnPhone or iDroid?

    I was just this morning grapling with the tricky question of whether to move into iPhone or Android territory for my first purchase of a smartphone. My current contract is about to expire and I'm looking forward to making the leap to the next generation however which way to jump has been a difficult decision.

    I love my iMac at home and really enjoy the way "things just work" compared to my experiences of trying to get Ubuntu installed on a second partition on my hard drive. But Apple's draconian and autocratic attitude really offends me and I'm now proud to say that I'm looking forward to a shiny new Andoid OS when I make the jump.

  46. Frank Bough

    However... FORCES you to upgrade, not even Apple. Really, the time to whinge about this stuff is long past, the DMCA is law, we no longer control our own computers - governments view the content of personal computers as the answer to their long held question "how can we know exactly what people are thinking and control it?"

  47. Lockwood
    Jobs Horns


    There's an app fo-

    No wait. There isn't.

  48. Pete 2 Silver badge

    The new IBM?

    Ahh, the 80's! When a single computing giant held sway over the corporate world. Basically you signed on the line (and if you didn't, a senior account manager would "have a word" with your boss) and then did what you were "recommended to" by your new lords and masters. You paid the rental on the hardware and software, you bought the service plan and upgrades like you were told. You asked nicely if a certain piece of software could, please, be run on THEIR hardware and reflected on how lucky you were.

    If there was one experience that led to the open software movement, it was the arrogant and controlling diktats of the big players and their closed protocols, restrictive licensing and secret APIs. The problem that Apple are giving the world now, is that we've forgotten about all these bad experiences. Probably because the generation of shiney, fresh-faced appliance buyers have never known the evils of proprietary systems and restrictive license agreements.

    I'd say Apple still had a way to go, so far as screwing over they their customers goes. While there's no doubt they'll make a stack more cash with this attitude, in maybe 10 more years they'll have so embittered their fan base that no-one will buy. However, by them there'll be a new generation of shiney, fresh-faced newbies waiting to wave their cash at the next big thing.

    Plus ca change.

  49. copsewood

    GPL3 would make it your phone

    Eventually, if enough developers use GPL3 to the point that Apple and others can't afford to maintain their own GPL2 or non copyleft software forks for ever, Apple will have to supply you with the keys to what you imagined was your own little virtual kingdom, because you paid for it and the device that hosts it is physically in your possession. On something that can still be rendered useless by its remote controllers because it is locked into a single network (e.g. as with the XBox gamers) that doesn't help you very much, but OFCOM and other communications regulators are quite interested in opening up competition at the network level.

    Chances are the parts of it that control radio frequency use and interference will be kept in a separate and closed module, so phone hackers can't break the communications used by emergency services etc.

    1. Tom Chiverton 1

      The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

      "break the communications used by emergency services etc."

      what are you one about ? You can but a GSM scanner already, or even program your own from scratch. But the police etc. have their own network *anyway*...

  50. Mei Lewis



  51. Doug Glass

    One Way???

    If you buy it, you but into it. Simple ... don't complain.

    If you don't like the rules, simple ... don't buy it or buy into it.

    If you are ignorant of the rules, simple ... you're ignorant.

    It's your money and you control it; nobody else, simple ... be prudent.

    Of course, Applfan's parents will likely do anything to quiet the incessant crying so there you have it.

    1. dave 93
      Jobs Halo

      iPhone residuals are pretty good

      the hardware is pretty robust and if you're bored or pissed off, you can sell it and buy an Android piece, no?

  52. adnim
    Big Brother

    I too am a control freak

    I like to know what my system is doing and exercise control over it. I Iike to run ps, iptables, netstat, cron and other system tools occasionally. I want to be able to open and close ports at will, block ip addresses and have full control over what code is running. I want a folder or virtual drive I can encrypt using my own chosen encryption, that I count mount dismount at will. I want to run my choice of browser and be able to dynamically control web scripts, ads and cookies. I want to revert any settings, remove any installs and backup/restore at will. I want control over updates.

    I guess I don't want an Apple then.

  53. Prag Fest


    Why dont geeks get it? Most people dont care about rolling back firmware, they dont want to get involved in the details of how things work, they just want to turn it on and do stuff.

    This is what Apple give people and surprise surprise, why they have done so well. No one makes you use an iPhone, get a Win Mo or Android device, then you can fiddle to your hearts content.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      The problem is when it goes wrong

      So your average Joe doesn't want to deal with downgrades or anything like that. But when an upgrade (like 3.1) goes horribly wrong, they generally want it fixed straight away. Many non-geeks dig out their nearest geek friend to sort it out. On Windows that may involve using a restore point, etc. On the iPhone you have no option to help them.

      On the other hand, this isn't really dissimilar to any other phone device. Most phones don't even provide firmware or OS updates to you (unless you fight with the provider to prove you have a bug that needs an upgrade to resolve). So Apple have it half right (although I'm choking on my own vomit saying this), but should really think about how to resolve things when they go wrong.

      At the moment Apple generally rely on the rabid support of the fanbois when things go wrong, eventually this lie won't wash. In the same way that New Labour relied on incredible spin when things went wrong, but eventually the wheels came off that truck. At some point Apple will genuinely have to start thinking about their users. But whilst their users are such evangelical supporters of the products Apple can treat them like shit without an issue.

      I'm sure if Steve Jobs did a huge turd and named it an iJobie, he could sell it, and the fanbois would claim it didn't stink.

    2. JCL
      Thumb Down


      Nothing to do with "geeks" thanks. Now, a good friend of mine, a ski instructor and iphone owning non-geek and spent 6 hours (on and off) on the phone to the service provider after an upgrade stopped the thing from working (though it did show the lovely apple logo).After I got the the thing working again (and restored the address book, though that looked dicey at one point) the phone could no longer access emails. Apparently a "known fault" with the service provider with no indication of when it'll be fixed.

      You don't need to be a geek to see the sense in being able to roll back updates, but you do need to be objective, which I'm sorry to say doesn't seem to be your way.

      As my friend said, I only bought this &^%$&^%$ phone because it is supposed to just work.

  54. Anonymous Coward

    I'm about as far as you can get from an Apple fan.

    But I side with them on this one.

    The iPhone is so tied up in everything being online, it's main puropse is to drive the user on-line so that they can spend money. That's the product and that's the model that you buy into when you get one. The Phone part is almost secondary.

    They can only ensure integrity of the product by enforcing software updates on the user base.

    Don't like it? Then don't get one...

  55. Nigel Wright

    Exactly why I won't buy..

    ....despite pressure from the Mrs to get her one - she likes shiny useless gadgets.

    Apple's attitude (and similarly other smartphone suppliers) is pants. You don't own and iPhone....more like they grant you a licence to use one. OTOH, if you buy one you have little reason to moan on here as most people are savvy enough to know the score with Apple and how the shower of s***s work.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      What a nice chap you seem to be.

      Do you vet everything your wife buys? What a lucky lady...

  56. Ross 12

    shock horror

    I can't believe that people are surprised by this.

    The iphone is a tightly controlled closed platform - did anyone expect otherwise from Apple? The iphone is designed as a consumer product, not a gadget for geeks. As such, you have to put up with their dictatorial rules.

    If you want a gadget you can muck around with, look for something based on an open(ish) platform, i.e. android.

    Beer because it's Friday and I need one

    1. Mage

      @ross12 Shock Horror

      "If you want a gadget you can muck around with, look for something based on an open(ish) platform, i.e. android."

      Android *SOURCE* is open. The platform is not. Bad example.

      Oddly WinMo is easier to Fiddle with (and you can get source, but it's not open).

      There were about 1/2 dozen "openish" phone platforms based on Linux. Android has killed of most of them. Maemo is open. (Linux based). So oddly is Symbian as Source and a Platform.

      Don't confuse Source that has been Chucked onto the Interwebs with an Open Platform. Android and ChromeOS are intended to be as locked and tightly controlled as iPhone.

  57. The Fuzzy Wotnot


    The only obvious reason I can come up with, if Apple control the entire stack, then users, average users, can only do as much Apple allows, which cuts down the support calls to really serious ones. Less calls, less support staff needed, less cost.

    I don't give a monkey's I still have my knackered, rather camp, pink LG phone that my Missus gave me after she decided to chase the Jobs dream!

  58. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Sony PSP

    Can't do it on that either!

    Why? simply because people who downgrade their PSP firmware are doing it largely to use exploits in the software used to run pirate software (or homebrew).

    On the iPhone people would want to downgrade to unlock the phone and run unofficial software or pirate software.

    A few might be unhappy with a new release, but much of these problems are often due to restoring backups.

    1. Gangsta
      Jobs Horns

      Good point from Gile Jones there.

      However usually if Sony releases a buggy update, it is generally fixed within a week; however it was a long time before Apple released a patch for the iPhone "coma mode" update.

      Another point to make is the ridiculous AppStore approval process. This has been said before but I'll repeat it now. Inconsistent and Slow.

      Do the right thing Apple... Open it up.

      - - Happy Jailbroken User :)

  59. Simon B

    Oh my God!

    Apple has fast turned from "A God", to an "Oh my God!"

  60. This post has been deleted by its author

  61. Mike Gravgaard

    Why bother?

    I don't understand why people like Apple and their methods...

    Why not just buy a Nokia? They have a product which works without needing updates all the time, they actually have alot more experience than Apple when it comes to mobile phones and dare I they seem to be less controlling :)

    But then I don't like the idea of a mobile phone anyway (I don't want to be contactable and if I need to phone someone I will use my friends if it's an emergency).


  62. Anonymous Coward

    It has occurred to me...

    There are a small(minded) vociferous few that don't like Apple or it's products. Thats ok. Trouble is they seem to think that their opinion is correct, often ignoring facts. Usual suspects reciting the same old rhetorical shite day after day. Worst still, they seem to think that their opinions somehow matter! Brilliant! Truth is, they've never used the device/software concerned. They may have messed about with it in shop once or twice, and in their tiny little minds they are now experts. It's getting old guys. Why so much attention on a company that, user base-wise, are relatively insignificant? iPhone only accounts for 16% of the global *smartphone* market, less in the global mobile phone market. Macs, depending on which source you believe, account for between 5% and 10% of the global computer market, which as a lot of detractors like to point out is small to say the least. They continually score highly in customer satisfaction surveys, yet you lot guffaw, exclaiming those that buy into Apple products are stupid and don't often know what they are talking about! Are you all THAT insecure?! You are all like the kids that think they are really cool at a party. They sit in the corner mocking everyone, thinking that they are better than everyone else, whilst in the real world they are missing out on the fun and just look stupid sat in the corner. At the end of the day, THEY ARE JUST FUCKING TOOLS. Computers do a job. Apples solution does it one way. Don't like it? There are other options, just don't bellyache about it constantly. One of the contributing factors to this rhetoric is the perception of "smug Apple fanbois". Take a look in the mirror chaps. At the end of the day, no-one cares what you think...

  63. Mage


    iPhone and Android are both way too overhyped.

    At the end of the day the screens are too small for useful work or browsing.

    Plenty of Smartphones (running Linux, Symbian and WinMo ) before Android let you do SMS. MMS, upload snap shots, video chat, Phone calls and MP3 playing.

    Once the novelty wears off most important features are Phoning, SMS and MP3 player. The novelty of no buttons wears off for a lot of people too.

    If the iPhone was branded and marketed by Foxconn what would the sales be?

    1. Jared Earle
      Jobs Halo

      Speak for yourself

      "At the end of the day the screens are too small for useful work or browsing."

      For you maybe. For me, the screen is fine for reading the BBC site, writing short emails, watching TV and movies ...

      Once the novelty wears off, I need a device that entertains me for the hour and a half I spend on public transport every day. The iPhone is smaller than a book and is a phone on top of being my media player, twitter device and news reader.

      And no, no-one forces upgrades upon people, but like any computer OS, downgrades are not supposed to be easy. Try reverting a security patch on Linux, Windows or Mac OS X.

  64. Pandy06269
    Thumb Up

    Security, anyone?

    Here's a possible (but made up) scenario:

    iPhone 3.1 fixes a major security issue in the iPhone OS - so Apple "recommends" you upgrade and you do.

    But you realise your phone isn't quite as fast as it was before so you roll back to 3.0.

    Then your phone gets hijacked using said security flaw that 3.1 fixes - who do you blame? Apple. Not yourself for using an old version of the software.

    I'm with Apple on this one - I'm a developer (MS .NET in fact) and I would NEVER recommend people run an old version of ANY software, let alone the most important bit of software on any computing device - the OS.

    @adnim - you can do all that on a Mac (well, maybe not the "my chosen encryption" part - Apple has it's own mechanism called FireVault.) However, it is Unix at heart after all.

    The only annoying thing is there's a really decent installer for new apps, but no uninstaller - to remove an application you have to do a search to get rid of all traces - annoying, yes. But at least you CAN. On Windows you can search for days deleting random files and still not remove all traces of an application, but you might possibly screw up your system.

  65. Pandy06269
    Black Helicopters

    What about Windows?

    Actually just thought of a comparison - can you downgrade Windows to the previous release?

    E.g. Windows 7 to Vista? It's impossible unless a) you used an upgrade CD* or b) you wipe your entire machine.

    Or even uninstall a service pack? *

    * Both these methods are either difficult to do, take up lots of disk space to allow you to roll-back, or aren't guaranteed to leave both your PC and your applications in a usable state.

    Black helicopter - because I agree with the previous comment of El Reg's conspiracy theories.

    1. Nordrick Framelhammer

      What about Windows indeed, Pandy.

      No, you cannot roll back the OS, but you CAN remove and reinstall any version of any software package you own at any time. You can also install any software you wish to that you obtained from your own chosen source on a Windows PC without some self important gnome saying yes or no, you can or cannot install that.

  66. Eradicate all BB entrants

    Some of you missed the point .....

    ....... so will put it easy speak (especially for Prag Fest)

    You have iPhone

    Updated application on iPhone borks iPhone

    Angry iPhone user wants to get rid and go back to old version while new one is fixed

    They cant ...... so they carry a brick around until developer gets his bug fixed app through the approval process ...... which takes weeks because even tho all he did to fix the bug is change a '/' to a '\' the approval process will start from scratch.

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Enough already !

    These stories are starting to get on my tits. We KNOW by know that Apple is very fascist about their customer service.

    We equally know that man has sold his sol to the devil for a bunch of shiny beads they think will impress their neighbours for as long as we've walkt on our hind legs.

    Apple knows this and exploits the weakness. And gets rich by doing so.

    Als this is known and well document, even, to some extent, by the iPeople that buy their stuff.

    So ignore them. And please, at least, don't give them aal this free publicity.


    Peter R.

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    It's easy to revert to an old App

    It's easy to revert to a previous version of an App (assuming you backed it up before updating). I did the very same thing just yesterday with a botched update to "RedLaser".

    1) Backup the .ipa file for the App from the iTunes "Mobile Applications" folder on your HDD

    2) Update the App to the latest version in iTunes, and install to the iPhone/iPod touch

    3) If you don't like it, delete it from the phone, quit iTunes and then restore the old .ipa into the "Mobile Applications" folder.

    4) Open iTunes and re-sync the old app to the device.

    It's always, it's a good idea to maintain backups of your Apps anyway, so reverting to an older one shouldn't be a problem.

    On the Mac, when you update an App through iTunes it helpfully puts the old version in the Trash from where you can retrieve it if you do forget to back it up before updating.

    1. Richard Vivash
      Jobs Halo


      Exactly what I was going to say. If you've backed up the app before updating (or just grabbed it out of the trash after updating) it's very easy to roll back to an older version of an app. This is exactly the same as if you've updated an application on Windows or OSX, if you haven't kept the original installer for the older version, you can't go back. Backup is the key.

      As for not being able to roll back to a previous OS version, I know it's annoying when you get problems, but as far as I know just about every phone I've updated has not allowed me to revert.

      I had a Samsung WinMo phone (which I actually won on El Reg!) and that allowed me to update from WinMo 5 to 6. It specifically told me there was no way of reverting. I've also updated several old Sony Ericsson phones via the USB cable and they never gave the option to downgrade either. Sounds very similar to the iPhone to me!

      I think people forget that the iPhone is a consumer device, not an open computing platform. Back in the day when mobile phones were just phones and one of the best phones on the market was the Sony Ericsson K750i, no one complained that they didn't have complete control over the inner workings of their phone. Phones were locked down tighter then than the iPhone is today.

      The problem is that phones are now basically mini computers and people believe that just because it's technically possible to do something, that gives them the God given right to do it. Phones are still just consumer devices designed to perform certain tasks and nothing more. Just because they now have more features than they used to (and the hardware could technically do even more) doesn't mean that Apple or any phone manufacturer has to allow you to do anything you wish to do with the device.

      I have an iPhone purely because when I purchased it there was nothing to touch it on the market for email, calendar and web. I know other phones could do these things, but they were slow and clunky compared to the elegant way the iPhone handled it. Recently I played with a friend's Android phone and have to say I liked that too, so when upgrade time comes I may well switch platforms. So for me my phone is a 'tool' and when I purchased it no other 'tool' on the market performed the features that I needed (maybe not that you need) as well as the iPhone did.

      Come on people, it's only a phone! If it does what you need it to do, great. If not, move along and buy something else.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Apologist Alert

        "The problem is that phones are now basically mini computers and people believe that just because it's technically possible to do something, that gives them the God given right to do it."

        It's the customer's property. If the customer screws up the software doing something the manufacturer doesn't support, the manufacturer can always refuse to honour the warranty on the software, but it's certainly not the manufacturer's right to dictate what people can do with the goods they have paid for.

        "Phones are still just consumer devices designed to perform certain tasks and nothing more. Just because they now have more features than they used to (and the hardware could technically do even more) doesn't mean that Apple or any phone manufacturer has to allow you to do anything you wish to do with the device."

        This is like something an IBM mainframe salesman would say, but in those bygone days, you were really renting the capabilities of that gear filling up the "computer room", and maybe not all of the capabilities, either. When you say that it's a question of the vendor "allowing" the buyer to do things, you've already advocated that everyone give up a bunch of actual statutory rights that they happen to have.

        Worshipping at the corporate altar may be attractive to Apple fans, but they can keep their sordid habits (such as advocating the abolition of fundamental consumer rights) to themselves.

  69. Anonymous Coward

    @Nigel Wright

    why wouldent you get the missus a iphone... the way i see it if she wants one she can have one, so long as mortgage/council tax/electric/gas bills are all paid...

    and on top of that, the way apple do things, its less time i will be spending fixing things or getting stuff to work... time i can spend getting my pc to work as it should....

    btw, i am not a apple fanbwoi... i proberbly will never personaly own a apple product, but for my less than tech savy missus, apple is perfect...

  70. Prag Fest

    Fair point, but...

    @ Eradicate all BB entrants

    ...this then causes potential issues with new apps running on old versions of firmware they haven't been tested against. Think it through son.

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    lucky if it works 100% anyway

    My 4 month old 3GS was broken, no vibrate, poor and intermittent signal/data, ok so lets go to the o2 shop, sorry sir will have to give it to us to send away, well bugger that I need my phone.

    Go to the apple shop, only 5 hours before closing ,sorry sir will have to make an appointment with an iphone "genius", and we have no more appointments today. Lost my rag at this point and point out I've travelled a long way to be here and my policy about expensive toys is not to go away until it's fixed, finally got a standby appointment, well only a two hour wait for a 5 minute diagnosis, yes the vibrate i broken, got new phone.

    So the software level is moot if the dam thing is broken anyway.

    So Apple is lovely as long as nothing goes wrong.

    Paris she only has the one, Apple is a bunch of.

  72. intLab

    Hows this news?

    This has been the case as long as I've been using apple computers - at least since system 8...

    Yup its rubbish as far as I'm concerned but hardly a new and subversive approach to updates - 99% of users don't care (I'm not surprised no one has mentioned that this has been Apple's approach since the 90's) the other 1% just work round it.

  73. Anonymous Coward

    Why all the discussion?

    You paid for it. It's your phone. It's not up to Apple to tell you what to do with it. Simple.

    And people prefer dealing with these freaks to dealing with Microshaft?

    Then again, why should I care? I don't deal with either.

  74. wsm

    Whatever works

    iPhones can and frequently are rolled back, for any number of reasons, including the desire for applications that just don't work after a firmware update. But the most recent firmware meltdown caused many to investigate a rollback solution.

    One of our executives had his iPhone become unusable after the 3.1 update. After some searching, we found the previous firmware version and applied it according to some blog instructions.

    The constant reboots and shutdowns were gone. He was happy with the performance until the later 3.1.2 update was released and we installed that version. The only problem was that his texting ability had disappeared and had to be reset with the carrier.

    No problems since then, but he is much less confident of Apple. He has vowed not to update until a month after any future releases and a review of the possible problems.

  75. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    >After all, it's my iPhone, isn't it? Or is it?

    Indeed ... what does "own" mean ? I'd say total control. Hence, it seems we don't really own these things but are rather on some sort of a lease. While it is theoretically possible for an owner of a device such as an iPhone to replace the entire software stack with something else, this is - of course - manifestly impractical. Hence, effectively, it is lease instead of ownership. I suppose the key legal instrument here to make it so (once again) is an EULA. Which is why I'd say we'd need specific legislation limiting what can be put in them (assuming that such "contracts" are worth anything in the first place ...)

    >Don't like it? Then don't get one...

    This, I believe, contains the implicit assumption that I could a get similar product without the aspects I don't like due to competition on the marketplace. I can't. Wouldn't be so bad if it was just about smartphones, but it happens to be the case that our entire economy is supposedly based on competition on the marketplace, and, then this western society of ours pretty much revolves around the economy (these days).

    > ... Android ...

    In a (more) ideal world one could freely mix and match hardware and software from multiple vendors. Let's hope Android is indeed a step in this direction. Then again I'm not holding my breath as this involves another mega-corporation with its own agenda (whatever exactly that might be, I wonder ?).

    >"Get a Nokia"?

    If you need a smartphone, please don't - for your own good.

    I'd say I know a fair bit about this as a former SW developer intimately involved with this particular brand. Nokia certainly has more than enough money and smart people to produce the finest smartphones, but for some reason they consistently fail to do so. The problem, of course, is with the software. With that, my personal experience would suggest this to be ultimately a management problem. It is rather sad, actually. I'm glad not be part of that scene, though, not any more, not ever again :-)


  76. Lou Gosselin

    Apple deserves the critisism

    ...but an iron grip on others' apps is central to their business. Naturally they want to control the entire ecosystem, but the process has only made apple ugly.

    In the other corner microsoft is doing the same thing with the windows kernel in a brilliant maneuver designed to stamp open source code out of windows.

    Both these companies may claim they're providing a benefit to users, but then they cannot explain why they don't even offer the user a choice to install what they want on their own machines. I hope both these companies are sued for anti-consumer practices.

  77. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Simon Banyard

    "There are a small(minded) vociferous few that don't like Apple or it's products. Thats ok."

    It's evidently not okay in your case.

    "Trouble is they seem to think that their opinion is correct, often ignoring facts."

    Opinions are opinions, facts are facts. The fact that Apple are rabidly control-freakish over the iPhone is a fact. Whether you think this is justified or not and/or worth complaining about is an opinion.

    "Worst still, they seem to think that their opinions somehow matter! Brilliant! Truth is, they've never used the device/software concerned. They may have messed about with it in shop once or twice, and in their tiny little minds they are now experts. It's getting old guys."

    Oh dear, is the criticism of your beloved phone getting to you?

    Face it, we're fed a constant stream of how damn great the iPhone is because- seemingly- it's the iPhone, in a similar manner to the journalists-foaming-at-the-mouth obsession with Twitter. (Not entirely bad, but nowhere near as radically new or interesting as the media seem to think).

    "Why so much attention on a company that, user base-wise, are relatively insignificant?"

    Because as far as the iPhone goes, it's still the most significant smartphone, gets a lot of publicity, and is getting to critical mass territory.

    "iPhone only accounts for 16% of the global *smartphone* market, less in the global mobile phone market."

    So-called smartphones are multifunction devices that just happen to be based round phones- or rather, what were formerly phones. If the PDA market hadn't collapsed a few years back, they'd probably have evolved into something similar, albeit from another direction.

    So comparing them to "vanilla" phones is pretty misleading.

    "Macs [..] account for between 5% and 10% of the global computer market [yet] continually score highly in customer satisfaction surveys, yet you lot guffaw [etc]"

    The Apple criticism seems to revolve primarily around the iPhone. Questions about whether it's overpriced aside, the Mac doesn't seem to attract as much attention.

    "You are all like the kids that think they are really cool at a party. They sit in the corner mocking everyone, thinking that they are better than everyone else, whilst in the real world they are missing out on the fun and just look stupid sat in the corner."

    Your assumption is that the iPhone's detractors are doing so for the "cool kids" reasons you give, not because they genuinely dislike Apple's level of control (and the owner's lack thereof) and the closed nature of the platform that *will not* let you run anything Apple don't want you to, unless you play silly b****rs with jailbreaking and updates.

    "At the end of the day, THEY ARE JUST FUCKING TOOLS. Computers do a job."

    Odd given the endless appstore novelty item hype and the fact that this device is less effective at its "job" because it's so locked down.

    "Apples solution does it one way. Don't like it? There are other options, just don't bellyache about it constantly."

    So it's okay for "fanbois" and the media to harp on about it constantly, but if anyone points out its flaws (or rather, those of its ecosystem), it's the old "don't like it, don't criticise" schtick?

    "One of the contributing factors to this rhetoric is the perception of "smug Apple fanbois". Take a look in the mirror chaps."

    I don't consider myself an anti-Apple (anti-)fanboi. I've given consideration to buying a Mac on more than one occasion. However, the iPhone (and Apple's attitudes towards it and its owners) have soured my opinion of the company. I never saw (nor expected them to be) nice people in it for the money, but to my mind they're no better than MS nowadays.

    FWIW, the iPhone would be a good enough device at heart, but is horribly locked down.

    "At the end of the day, no-one cares what you think..."

    You evidently do.

  78. Tim Cook
    Dead Vulture

    The more I read this article...

    You can see the flaw in whole premise right from the first paragraph:

    "For over 30 years, your personal computer has been, well, your personal computer. You could install whatever software you liked - provide it was compatible. After installing an app or an operating system, if you then decided you preferred the previous version, you were free to uninstall the new and revert to the old.

    But nowadays, that's not entirely true. You can't revert software on your iPhone."

    That last line could equally well read:

    "But nowadays, that's not entirely true. You can't butter your toast with an aardvark."

    The iPhone is a *phone*, not a personal computer.

  79. Jonathan 6
    Thumb Down

    To summarise...

    In spite of the usual El Reg trollbait, you can roll back to a previous version of an app, you can revert the OS to an older version. Apple just don't make it easy to do (unless it is something you are going to do straight after an upgrade - iTunes backs up the state of your phone each time you attach it you know; there is a Restore option built-into iTunes; fwiw, savvy users can trick this into running a restore to a prior version of the OS if they want to and have e.g. a Time Machine or other back up of it).

    IOW, your typical flamebait material with the usual Regtard commentary to go along with it. Fun.

  80. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD
    Jobs Horns

    Good on you El Reg, Keep asking Apple difficult questions

    I would have bought an iphone but for the fact it's ludicrously tied up by Apple. Granted, one could jailbreak it but one should not have to.

    Apple, this is just LAME.

    It's a sad fact that Apple really have it pretty well physically designed. I have had the 'privilege' to borrow and try iphones/itouches before and they really are very nice - in terms of the UI especially. Reception ain't too hot though, and the fact it does not appear to multitask user apps is another big no-no.

    The biggest no-no and possibly SOLE reason I have not bought one is Apple's attitude and the status quo.

    So you see Apple? NO FRIKIN' SALE HERE.

    I want one (don't need one but want one, and WOULD have bought one) but as a matter of principle, I'm NOT buying.

  81. Juan Inamillion

    @It has occurred to me...

    "At the end of the day, THEY ARE JUST FUCKING TOOLS. Computers do a job. Apples solution does it one way. Don't like it? There are other options, just don't bellyache about it constantly."

    "Take a look in the mirror chaps. At the end of the day, no-one cares what you think..."

    At last a ray of intellectual sunshine.... FFS.

  82. jbelkin

    Phone Not Computer

    First, it's a phone and not a computer, 99% of people want to use it as a phone and its internet without having to hack it - if you want to, fine but leave us out of it. AND as you point out, the more controls YOU have - the more problems - Mac OSX - fewer controls - ZERO viruses, ZERO malware and ZERO crashes every 10 minutes (see WIN OS 1992-2009).

    Besides, to restore to previous version, run itunes. Select RESTORE. How hard is that - I know you prefer to run TERMINAL or send high beam infra to trip the hard drive but really, it's much easier if you just use the right tools.

    1. yomchi86

      Are you stupid?

      There are viruses/malware/exploits for every single OS. There is just a massively reduced amount of viruses for MAC than Windows for example.

  83. Anonymous Coward

    Bugs not yet fixed

    Try managing a Google Blogspot blog with the current iPhone software.

    Unbelievably - you can't Paste a URL link into the Link Edit window. One used to be able to do this simple task. But not now. Instead you now have to type in a placeholder text (such as "Apple Bug") into the URL Link, and then exit back to the post edit window, navigate the the placeholder text, select it, and you'll *finally* be able to paste in the URL link.

    Not to mention you can't edit in the Blogspot Compose window. Must edit in the HTML window only.

    Not to mention that the post edit window and cursor location constantly fly off in random directions with each focus change. Didn't used to do this. Now I'm constantly dragging it back to where I'm trying to work.

    All in all it makes blogging while mobile less simple than it used to be with the previous version of iPhone software.

    Apple should be ashamed of themselves.

  84. Robert Hill

    For Pete's sake...

    why is this even an issue?

    Apple have to make a choice - give everyone the ability to use older versions of the iPhone OS and all previous apps, and then regression test EVERY SINGLE NEW RELESE OF EVERY APP AND EVERY OS RELEASE ON ALL OF THEM IN ALL POSSIBLE COMBINATIONS (which is some godawful huge exponential of an exponential number)...and when they find errors, start those tests all from scratch as the fixes are submitted...

    Or not. Make everyone be required to run the most current version of everything (apps and OS), and then test those and do it better than anyone else seems to do. Fix problems with those current releases as they come up, and at least understand the software environment (i.e., releases and versions) they are debugging for.

    Huh. Wonder why they chose options 2? And I wonder if it is related to the iPhone being the best user experience in the mobile market? Don't like it, don't buy it. Personally, I have much better things to do than spend my time playing with the version of OS my mobile runs...

  85. Matthew Barker


    Strange how this is so noteworthy. All of my non-apple phones (Sony-E, Nokia & Motorola) are the same.

    Sounds like an attempt to stir up apple hater/lover war to drive readership to the Reg, no?

  86. Big-nosed Pengie


    You buy their shit, you do as you're told. Don't like it? Don't buy it.

  87. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    It is the Apple way dood

    Okay, yes, I too was perplexed by the way Apple does stuff especially moving from a PC environment in which contacts were/had to bee deemed intrusive with potential breech of security risk (Spyware detectors that install malware anyone?)

    On the other hand Apple looks after you.

    You want legit good working apps?

    Make sure you have the most recent version and for it to work with your OS

    and so forth

    In the PC sector or when I use PC or laptop device it seems to take hours to download security updates, anti-malware updates, ... so much so that it literally takes hours to get productive.

    I mention that because I am not too sure PC users are aware of "in your best interest-trust relationships"

    Also that some serious Mac users when working on major contracts do not seek any perturbation at all to the computer(s) used on the contract. In which case election is made not to install any updates.




    (how about a meerkat icon just for fun?)

  88. ThrashMan

    arse about face!?

    The backup of the iPhone would have been made BEFORE the OS upgrade. i.e.

    Backup current iPhone (OS v3)

    Upgrade to v3.1.2

    Restore backup of apps etc

    Realise v3.1.2 blows goats

    Flash back to v3

    Restore original backup.

    OK so you might have updates itunes at some point so cannot downgrade that so easily.....your fault for being a gullable sheep and buying an iphone in the first place.


  89. This post has been deleted by its author

  90. Randy Hudson
    Dead Vulture

    Nice FUD from the Reg

    How retarded do you have to be to not even google "uninstall iTunes 9"? Obviously installing iTunes 8 shouldn't be allowed until you first uninstall iTunes 9. Duh?

    Down-grading apps is trivial. Delete the app from your iPhone, restore the old version of the App in your iTunes folder using Time Machine, and re-sync your phone. Of course, if the developer changed the schema used for storing data in the apps data store, don't be suprised if the old version of the app is no longer able to work with the migrated database.

    Changing the OS software on your iPhone should also be possible, but with even more potential risk due to user settings being migrated to new formats. Can't you use XCode to switch OS versions on your iPhone, iPod touch, etc. so that you can test your application for compatibility?

  91. Simon Langley
    Jobs Horns

    This is going too far

    I am a big fan of Apple's products. In our house we have a MacBook Pro, a MacBook, a Mac Mini, an iPod Touch, two iPod Nanos and my iPhone.

    In general we have been very (very) happy with all of these but I shall NOT be buying another iPhone. The extreme restrictions on what I can do with my phone are way over the top and I am sick of Apple's fascist approach to iPhone software.

    My next phone will almost certainly be running Android and I doubt I shall ever buy another iPhone. What a shame Apple, you are squandering my goodwill.

    PS This is the first time I have ever used the evil SJ icon.

  92. Matt Bradley


    But surely, there IS a way to do whatever you want with your iPhone?

    Just jailbreak it.

    Then you can have all the joy of having to worry about keeping your software up to date, guarding against malware and security problems, maintaining your software platform, etc, etc. Just like any other Windows / Linux / Android user.

    Speaking personally, I'm quite happy for Apple to look after all that stuff for me. For free, too. I can't really say I have any complaints. If a little loss of control is the price I have to pay for Apple vetting software before it hits my phone, that's fine by me. If you want to jailbreak your phone and hack around with it, be my guest!

  93. Bruce Ordway
    Big Brother

    Should the iphone be supplanted?

    Inability to tinker with the iphone is just one of many reasons I'm not interested in it. Seems wireless phones in general leave a lot to be desired. I'm also getting more interested in what the providers are up to. Anybody else think they are playing fast & loose these days? Why is wireless service being billed differently than the conventional land lines. I don't think they have been contested on the consumers behalf lately. I'm usually not a fan of legislation but I wonder if it might not be time for the government to take a fresh look at phones.

    Again, I'm talking about the US, maybe the UK is fine?

    I'd like big brother to watch THEM for a while.

    1. Matt Bradley


      "I'm usually not a fan of legislation but I wonder if it might not be time for the government to take a fresh look at phones."

      You want *government* to spend our tax money writing legislation to enable yo tinker with your phone's software platform? Seriously?


      Suggestion: just buy a different phone. Better still: make your own.

  94. magnetik

    whine, moan

    Aww poor techies can't pick and choose which version of the iPhone OS they can run on their iPhone. Funny, I don't see Sony bending over backwards to let me downgrade my PS3 to the previous firmware, likewise with the Wii. Also, no help from Microsoft in downgrading Windows from the latest service pack, what a terrible world we live in.

    The problem with geeks is that they think manufacturers are obliged to let them modify their products and also help them do it. Sorry boys and girls, the world doesn't work that way.

  95. Jodo Kast

    I agree

    That is why I would never buy an Apple iPhone. That is also why I would however, buy an Apple computer (like a MacBook or an iMac).

    If they let me run the operating system I want, and they let me run software that I write, then I will use it. If there are problems with that (like the App Store Approval Board denying you to run the software you write) then why should I bother?

    Windows Mobile could lock us out the same way from developing our own applications, but why would they do that? It doesn't make sense to lock someone out of their own hardware for any reason.

    (XBox is not the same: the banned modified boxes are great for development, but you can't expect to play licensed games in an online environment with a development machine.)

  96. Adam T


    How many things do you buy that you can't upgrade?


    Washing Machine?




    So obsessive. I think it's pretty funny, sad, bewildering, even ironic.

    I suspect anyone complaining because the iPhone is locked-down, must secretly want one. Otherwise, why the indignation?

    Yes, ironic.

  97. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Down



    end of.

  98. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Deary me.

    What a bunch of retards some of you are...

    I wont buy an iphone cus I'm a pretentious twat with delusions of grandeur.

    I bought an iphone once and Apple wouldn't let me reverse engineer it! What a bunch of shysters!

    Fucking hell.

    Grow up.

  99. Alpha

    Final step to downgrade an iPhone

    You can love or hate the iPhone and Apples underlying philosophy but there will always be folks out there to help....

    Snippet from the comments on to restore a 3.1 backup to a 3.0 iPhone:

    "For those who cannot recover their newly built OS 3.0 from a backup of a OS 3.1 iPhone, there's a fix:

    Navigate to your backup directory (OS X: Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/d2f092... Now you have to change the file 'info.plist' (best use something like the vi command-line editor or pico). In the file, change 'Build Version' to 7A341 and 'Product Version' to 3.0. Save and exit.

    Now if you try to recover your iPhone OS 3.0 from your old iPhone OS 3.1 backup it will work like a charm. "

    Fortunately, a phone isn't for life, but as long as sales soar Apple probably just don't care.

  100. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wow, apple freaks are out in full force

    They drank the kool aid long ago...........

  101. Stephen Bungay

    Apple lost core values?

    "The fact that Apple are rabidly control-freakish over the iPhone is a fact"

    And that's why 2010 will be like... 1984 (to paraphrase the famous Mac advert)

    1. wheel
      Big Brother

      That's it, isn't it

      That's the problem, isn't it? Apple has spent decades branding itself as the computer company that let you do things differently. The Mac experience was (and still is) designed to make it easy for the user to do what they wanted with their computer, partly by eliminating incompatibilities by controlling both hardware and OS.

      The problem is that the iPhone has taken that approach full circle. To protect the user experience Apple now controls hardware, OS and *application software*. Which is entirely Big-Brother-esque.

      I'm a long-time Mac fan; I've used them for 15 years because they made doing things my way easier. But by the same standards, I cannot be an iPhone fan, as it only makes Apple's way easier. I do not understand anyone who argues that it is *good* or *right* for a computer manufacturer ("Apple Computer", remember) to decide how a user should use their system.

      Those who suggest jailbreaking or buying another phone miss the point.

  102. Bob 61

    So Firefox is just as evil?

    I just restarted FF and noscript just updated (again). I can't revert (somebody correct me) back to an earlier version, no rubbish bin, no undo.

    So that advert war with adblock - or whatever - a while back was out of my control too.

    The argument is a bit one sided IMHO.

    Apple may be evil but no moreso than the the rest methinks.

  103. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Oh flower of Scotland

    when will we see

    your likes again

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