back to article Apple beckons fanbois back into its golden era... of, er, 2010

As the world mutters about Apple's uncertain future, the fruity firm has offered out-of-date fanbois a way to relive its glorious past. Cupertino's online App Store will now let users of old iPhones and other iThings download previous versions of software, so they can continue to use such technological innovations as the Fart …


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  1. returnmyjedi

    This sounds like a good thing, and quite rare for Apple who tend to make their iOS updates incompatible with older software releases. I've got a third gen ipod touch that wants noting to do with anything after ios 4.2

    1. Bob Vistakin

      Fragmentation Fixes for the Fickle Fanbois

      Come on Reg, its not like you to pass on a headline like that.

    2. banjomike

      My third gen ipod touch happily upgraded itself to 5.1.1 when that turned up. Is yours different?

  2. Test Man

    That Instagram thing is wrong. I "reinstalled" Instagram using that prompt and it subsequently told me that it wasn't going to log me in because the service doesn't support such an old version of the app.

    Oh well.

    It's only really useful if people weren't updating their apps regularly and didn't manage to get the last version that worked on iOS 4.2. And only then if the service hasn't subsequently cut off users of older versions.

    1. Buzzword

      Yep, it's only useful if the service that you're connecting to doesn't require the latest app.

      Might be good for games and the like, which aren't dependent on a server.

      1. JDX Gold badge

        True but

        a)That's not Apple's fault

        b)No surprise developers stop supporting older versions when Apple won't let anyone install them

        Perhaps app-developers will continue to develop for older iOS versions, or keep support alive longer, if there is a large enough userbase to make it worthwhile.

  3. Arachnoid

    So you can install older bug ridden software with possible security issues [after all thats what updates are for]......I wonder what people would have said if MS had offered this

    1. Esskay


      From the article:

      "but some people report that the photo-mangling service rejected connections from the elderly devices."

      So the oft -touted slogan about Apple products and how "it just works" goes out the window. Apple had a small and loyal fanbase for whom the latest and greatest was worth enduring the short amount of time products stayed ahead of the curve. This, along with the iPhone 5¢, seems to mark the end of the uber-successful Jobsian era, and the beginning of the relentless pursuit of market share under the Cooksian regime.

      1. Ted Treen

        Re: ^This.

        With all due respect, that's pure cobblers.

        The Apple product is "just working" in connecting to Instagram:- if Instagram happens to reject the connection that ain't down to Apple.

        Would you claim it's all the fault of your old Pentium 4 because it won't play GTA V?

        Thought not...

        1. kevin biswas

          Re: ^This.

          A pentium 4 is likely 10-12 years old now. The apple devices in question nare only 3 years old. Which is pretty much brand new by my reckoning.

          1. ThomH

            Re: ^This.

            A new Apple iOS device usually receives OS updates for three years. Without breaking it down, to quote Ars Technica's review of iOS 7, posted today: "The length of the iOS device support cycle remains about the same as it has been for the last couple of years. If you buy an iOS device when it’s brand new, you can (with some notable exceptions) expect three to four years of software support"

            Microsoft didn't support upgrades from Windows Phone 7, which is three years old, to 8. 8 isn't yet three years old.

            Taking Android's case at its strongest, Google provided updates for the Nexus One for less than two years — from the January 2010 launch of the phone until the October 2011 release of Android 4.0. It provided updates for the Nexus S for only very slightly longer — from a December 2010 launch through to the November 2012 release of Android 4.2.

            The Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4 have received the latest versions of the OS. The Galaxy Nexus will be two years old in November.

            So at the very least, Apple devices are definitely not doing worse than the market average.

  4. Dan 55 Silver badge

    That's not the right way to do it

    The right way to do it was to take the artificial limitation off XCode so it can generate apps for iOS 4.2.1 and whatever the other maximum versions for older devices are.

    1. Pete Spicer

      Re: That's not the right way to do it

      I didn't have any problem using the current (not beta) versions of Xcode, including the 6.1.3 APIs and whatnot to push a build of my current app to my first gen iPad, which still runs 5.0 (it can run 5.1 but 5.0 was memory hungry enough on it)... Depending on how far back you want to go you might have to jump through a few hoops but that's par for the course when using any of Apple's dev tools.

  5. Don Dumb

    Apple support versus an Android

    I'm not a great fan of Apple Corp, but I do like some of their equipment, particularly their laptops and iPods/iPhones. The old Jobsian stubborness to 'the only way' does annoy me (such as making it so difficult to use right click, surely Apple you can let this one go now?). And I particularly dislike being locked into one mega-company with a litigious bent and deliberately bespoke methods and systems (haven't we learned that lesson?).

    However I brought an iPhone 3GS and then the 4S (64Gb) a few years later. I'm very happy with both devices but would like the option to move to Android at some point to free mysefl from some of the annoying designed-in restrictions (video file formats, advertising in the browser, iTunes being a dog) and make use of some of the more modern phone features the iPhone hasn't adopted.

    But the main thing that would hold me back is the lack of support for Android compared to the iPhone, this is my thinking -

    iPhone - if the iPhone stops working (my 3GS did once brick) I can walk to the Apple store and walk out with a replacement, free of charge if the phone is less than a year old. Also Apple does seem to provide iOS support for phones several generations old, and of course updates can be rolled out quickly from Apple to me. This story just adds more evidence that Apple's long term support is dependable.

    Android on the other hand - if my phone breaks I probably have to send it somewhere (manufacturer or network), being without a phone for a period, with an unknown amount of confidence in how good some of the manufacturer's are with customer service - a big risk. Furthermore, if it isn't the Nexus brand, how long will updates take to get to my phone? will they ever? How long before the manufacturer just stops supporting the phone at all. Some Android phones don't seem to get a single update after they have been built.

    In summary, when I do replace my 4S, which shouldn't be for a while, there's no reason to change at the moment, there's a good chance I will decide against advancement and modernity (a new Android) for the low risk option (a new iPhone). People talk of being seduced by the shiny, but my phone is so important now that there are other attractions to choosing Apple. Stories like this just reinforce my thinking.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apple support versus an Android

      Circa 2005/2006 when i broke my O2 XDA Mini S, I took it to O2 for replacement they offerred a replacement phone while it was being repaired at a cost of £25 (Nokia 6210 or something). The phone cost £35 so I bought it. I got a refurbished XDA Mini S phone 4 days laters from O2, through the post.

      These days you can buy a low end Andriod phone for ~£30 running gingerbread (I have a Vodafone Smart 2, I'm modifiying that cost this much). So your going to be put out but you'll still have a smartphone with all of your settings, contacts and applications.

      Applecare offers you nothing your not entitled to (within the EU), the only extra it gives is instant replacement. Your reasoning seems extremely risk adverse, have your broken your iPhone enough times that this seems is a likely scenario?

      Regarding updates each manufacturer is different and it is something that is easy to find out, carriers are often the bigger problem. If your that fussed on having the latest, look at Nexus or Play Editions of the phones.

      Unlike the Apple Store it doesn't matter if you fall behind, most developers use the features they need and that dictates the andriod version the application requires. Most applications tend to require 2.2 and up

      To give a small example, I currently have a Sony Xperia T (Andriod 4.1.2), the missus has a Sony Xperia Z Ultra (Andriod 4.2.2). There are no applications she is running that I can't (excusing the lock screen widgets, functionality added in 4.2).

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Apple support versus an Android

      Nexus is not the only one which is updated. However with the other manufacturers you usually have to go to a CM build.

      For example, all of my household Xperias once they are past manufacturer updates go onto CM. That means CM-10 at least (4.0), going up to 4.2 for most of them even things as ancient as Xperia Mini Pro (1.6-era phone with a physical slider kbd).

      What you really need to do when considering Android is to check if the bootloader is locked and unlockable. If it is locked and the manufacturer does not unlock it turn around and leave. That's all it takes to keep up to date with Android :)

      1. Lallabalalla

        Re: Apple support versus an Android: you usually have to go to a CM build.

        That's the problem right there. WTF is CM build, and who the hell cares? I just want my phone to work, and when it doesn't, give me a new one (or an identical refurb, I don't care) within 10 minutes, please, as I have stuff to do that doesn't include finding out about "CM Builds" and how to install them.

        1. pepper

          Re: Apple support versus an Android: you usually have to go to a CM build.

          You can probably pay for that instant replacement thing, I think some providers have this extra payable thing just like apple care for the insta-replace in case when broken.

          CM means CyogenMod, a group of people that build releases for older phones that are unlocked/able. Quite neat to install.

          As a previous poster said, look up to see how providers and manufacturers handle the update and make a pick. If you cannot be arsed to do a trivial amount of research into this then dont bother and stick with your apple device.

          Nexus devices are google's own phone, and from what I understand they are updated pretty well.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apple support versus an Android

      "(such as making it so difficult to use right click, surely Apple you can let this one go now?)"

      How hard is it to tap with 2 fingers? It works by default on both their trackpads and mice. If you are not using an Apple mouse, it will have a secondary button. All Apple mice since 2006 have had right click functionality. Perhaps it's time that you let is go now?

    4. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Apple support versus an Android

      "iPhone - if the iPhone stops working (my 3GS did once brick) I can walk to the Apple store and walk out with a replacement, free of charge if the phone is less than a year old. Also Apple does seem to provide iOS support for phones several generations old, and of course updates can be rolled out quickly from Apple to me. This story just adds more evidence that Apple's long term support is dependable."

      I could get that with my phone, and more. But I don't figure the cost of fancy insurance is really justified with a €30 device! Yes, you'll say I'm paying extra, but how do you know that such service costs aren't rolled in to iPhone pricing? At least I can choose.

      I'm quite pleased that iOS7 will be available for my iPad Mini. It is a nice touch to get the updated firmware "for free". While Android should offer likewise, the fact of the matter is that it rarely works out like that. Google has interest, manufacturers have less interest, and the carriers could care less. All of my phones are 2.3.x and the most recent was bought this January.

      On the other hand, there is plenty of choice when it comes to Android. From the cheap and cheerful to the deplorable at one end of the scale, to the ultra sexy high flying high priced at the other end. With the iPhone, your range is what Apple makes, and since nobody clones them, you are limited to that which they make and no more. Furthermore, where will you be if Apple goes bust? Or decides to jack in the phone biz and make intelligent cookers instead. Support? Updates? They might come as Apple has many fans. But they might not. At least with Android you are not tied to any one company. This is one of the strengths, but as you can see from the update nightmare, one of its weakness. I don't really expect updates, and given how it seems each new version is more deeply tied to Face-sodding-book, I'm not sure I'd want it (but this might be manufacturer and/or carrier pollution).

      There isn't one answer that is correct and one that is wrong. To be honest, I'm not even sure iThingies and Androids are even targeting the same demographic. Regardless, the device is just that. A device. That does stuff. You just need to play with both and see which you would prefer to use. They are fundamentally identical, only different in how you do stuff upon them. People should pick what they like and quit whinging about the other choices.

  6. Michael Jennings

    Possibly useful for the iPhone 3G though.

    Also, the second generation iPod touch doesn't have any cameras. This would make running Instagram on it a touch sub-optimal, I would think.

  7. Irongut

    Stupid idea

    So you can install an old version of an app that might have a huge gaping security hole in it and is no longer supported by the developer? On a platform that the users believe is magically immune to malware? Wow that's a great idea. I can't see that going wrong ever.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Please, Apple, think these things through

    I'm an unashamed fanboi and this is probably great for most consumers, but seriously why did they have to spring this on developers? Would it really have hurt to announce to developers that this was going to happen? That they were suddenly going to have lots of one-star reviews as people downloading apps to old devices found they didn't dial home properly?

    Isn't this the kind of thing Apple holds a massive developers conference to tell people about?

  9. banjomike
    Thumb Up

    About time!

    IOS developers seem have a fetish for NOT mentioning when they drop support for an IOS revision. I have at least a dozen apps that have been dropped this way and either dn't run at all or crash while loading. The devs always say "We can't support every version of IOS" but they don't have to support every version. All they need to do is mention when they stop supporting a version and then we won't update it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: About time!

      No its not a fetish, its just inline with Apple dropping support.

      As an iphone/pad/pod user didn't you back up your device in itunes before you upgraded.. can't you just restore it?

      Take some responsibility for your actions and stop blaming developers who face enough fragmentation already.... we're only trying to make a buck despite everyone wanting apps for free or a couple of $ and Apple taking 30%.

      Jeez, some people are never happy.

      1. banjomike
        Thumb Down

        Re: About time!

        Did you miss this bit, "All they need to do is mention when they stop supporting a version and then we won't update it." Simple enough. They could add it to the bottom of the description just after the bit that says how wonderful it is and how much it will change our lives (until they abandon it withou warning). "Needs IOS 5.1 or later". Easy enough. No one expects a product to be supported forever but even Microsoft will give advance warning that something is being dropped. Using Apple and their control freak behaviour as an excuse is not acceptable.

    2. ThomH

      Re: About time!

      As per jeremy 3; Apple didn't allow apps to support both the full iPhone 5 screen and the ARMv6 instruction set used by pre-3GS devices. So a lot of developers had to drop 4.2 to support the iPhone 5. Similarly Apple is not going to accept 64-bit builds that also attempt to support iOS 5.

      So developers often don't shout about dropping support because there's often quite a lot of coercion involved.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fuck Apple

    and their exclusive deal on GTAV functionality.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One poster wrote: "I really like how apple supports their devices. I have an iphone 4. It runs a hobbled, cut-down version of iOS 7 at least as well as it ran a hobbled, cut-down version of iOS 6"


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hobbled in what way?

      4 Vs 4s on 6

      Siri was never on the cards, even jailbroken ones don't run it particularly well.

      Facetime over Cellular..why would you want to...eats data.

      Camera/maps/flye over hw specific

      Yes you're right I can't video chat over cellular on my hobbled iphone 4, oh expcept for with skype and half a dozen other apps.


  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It feels like 2007 when you use iTunes. Especially when it's desperate to download new software yet the Apple update servers once again can't cope. Weird error numbers, modal message boxes, inconsistent instructions... Really hoped we'd got beyond all that.

    1. ThomH

      Then don't use iTunes. It isn't required.

  13. asdf

    Apple support

    One poster wrote: "I really like how apple supports their devices."

    Guess he didn't buy one of the original iPADs then in which case apple only supported it for about two years with ios updates. They pull tricks on the desktop/laptop side also but at least there you can go with Linux or Windows (security updates and even new versions) which will support Mac hardware years after Apple quits supporting it. Apple is a hardware company first and looks at software only as a way to sell hardware.

    1. asdf

      Re: Apple support

      Apple's software support would have a lot more fans if they didn't release service packs as a new OS every year just so they can say sorry we only support security updates for the current version and the last version (ie 2 years).

  14. fiatlux

    Great! This explains what I experienced a couple of days ago on my iPad 1 stuck on iOS 5. I will try installing a few apps that were no longer available on iOS 6...

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