Apple IOS11 - farewell old devices

WWDC 2017, Apple released details of the new iOS11.

It's the usual story, faster, better, more features, more secure. All good stuff, all stuff that you would expect from a major Operating System release, all stuff that you would expect from Apple.

The challenge here is that it's a 64 bit OS, something that Apple have not previously released on iOS. Despite the fact that the last few generations of iPhone and iPad have used 64 bit processors, iOS has remained 32 bit. In basic terms, this means it is slower than necessary, and doesn't manage memory as well as it could.

So, all good. No, not really.

In releasing a 64 bit iOS, this means older devices will no longer be able to run the latest OS. Quite a few devices in reality;

The Customer Service Challenge

If you (or your customer) own an older device, then iOS will not upgrade beyond the current 10.3.2. Not a major problem for most people, but there are hidden challenges to this change.

1) These devices will not receive new features.
2) These devices will not receive updates to existing features (for instance iTunes, Podcasts, Calculator, Maps, etc)
3) Security updates that are intrinsically part of the OS will cease.

In addition, from the other side of the coin, those with newer devices will get their new OS, and everything is fine. Right ? Wrong - apps that were originally written for the 32 bit iOS will need to be updated. Some will work, some will not. This means a lot of work for app developers, but also potential downtime for people that are reliant on their phone for certain reasons.

A quick glance at Settings > General > About > Applications > App Compatibility will show potential problems


Arguably this is progress. Who wouldn't want the latest iOS, with all the new features. Most poeple would leap at the chance, yet many can't. This community of people are arguably later adopters, people who don't need or can't afford the latest & greatest kit. However, many of them will not be tech-savvy, and the "You can't update" message that they will inevitably get will leave them confused, frustrated and wanting to find out why.

I am guessing that Apple will be forward-thinking with their strategy on how to pre-empt this, but other companies that also support iOS devices will need to get their act together, understand the implications, prepare well and expect an increase in inquiries.