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Apple Begins Offering 'Last Compatible' Version of Apps for Users Running Legacy Versions of iOS

Apple has begun allowing users on legacy versions of iOS to download the latest version of apps that are backwards compatible with their devices, as highlighted by a user on Reddit (via The Next Web). Specifically, when a user tries to download an app that is not compatible with his or her version of iOS from the App Store , Apple offers the user the option to download an older version of the app that is compatible with the device.

older_version
The move comes as Apple is set to release iOS 7 tomorrow, with the new operating system featuring a complete redesign along with a number of new features including an overhaul of multitasking, a new universal settings window known as Control Center, and changes to the Notification Center. With all of the changes coming in iOS 7, some developers are redesigning their apps to be compatible with only iOS 7, and Apple's new system offers one way for users who have yet to upgrade to iOS 7 to continue using apps while also providing reminders that they are not running the most current version of iOS.

iOS 7 will be avaliable for free and will be compatible with the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, fifth-generation iPod touch, iPad 2, iPad with Retina Display (third- and fourth-generation), and the iPad mini, along with Appleā€™s new iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s.

Top Rated Comments

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14 months ago
Nice move on Apple's part.
Rating: 56 Votes
14 months ago
This is one of the biggest things to happen to iOS. Ever.

Original iOS model:

New versions pushed, no way to download old versions. Each download is DRM-tied to your account.

End result?
Scenario 1: User buys old iOS device, cannot download popular apps.
Scenario 2: User already had old iOS device, but needed to be wiped or sent into Apple for repair/replacement. User cannot re-download apps. Even apps they purchased. Paid $60 for iWork? Too bad. Paid $100+ for GPS app? Too bad.

This was a BAD thing. It required users to maintain their own app archive. Saving old versions would take up an insane amount of disk space, and referring to changelogs and release notes to try and figure out which version worked on your device & iOS combination was time-consuming.
Even if you did manage to back up and save EVERY download, it wouldn't help the user in Scenario 1, as they never had a chance to download and backup the app.

This basically forces older, but still perfectly capable devices to become useless. Whereas you once had a hundred apps that worked fine, you would be reduced to using only the built-in apps. No more Twitter, Facebook, Angry Birds, Around Me, Instagram, etc.

Compare this to Android:

Any user can install any app, at any time. Was the 2.0 version of the app the last one that ran on your device? Just get a copy from someone else. Done. No DRM. Piracy is a huge problem, but it makes it easy to install any version of apps, which means even your old/unsupported device will ALWAYS be able to download your favorite app again.
Rating: 20 Votes
14 months ago
With MILLIONS of devices "forever" stuck on iOS 3, iOS 4, iOS 5, and now iOS 6, being able to still download apps is a VERY good thing.
Rating: 20 Votes
14 months ago
Unbelievable!! I was only just complaining to an Apple Store genius about this very issue last week (not why I was there). IMO this was the most genuine case of planned obsolescence in all of Apple's behaviours. So glad to see them finally fix this!!

Going off to see if this actually works on my old 3G now…
Rating: 17 Votes
14 months ago
Now just to allow trials and paid upgrade paths.
Rating: 16 Votes
14 months ago
So does this mean the iOS 7 haters can stay on iOS 6 now? :)
Rating: 12 Votes
14 months ago
Seems like a nice step in the right direction, but I find It odd that they would allow this. I would assume that since iPhone is all about the apps incompatible apps would push people to buy newer hardware.

I guess this was a customer oriented move instead of a profit oriented move. :D
Rating: 10 Votes
14 months ago
So... for any app?

What if services are not supported anymore... Or code has changed and certain request are not valid anymore? (on the server side of the app)

Like... if spotify always used code like "search" and it has changed to "find" .... Your app will send a request "search:artist/song" ... but the server cant decode "search" anymore....
Rating: 9 Votes
14 months ago
This is a really unique way to admit to a fragmentation issue.
Rating: 9 Votes
14 months ago
It's about time.

I know a fair number of people with no longer supported iOS devices, who have not been able to find apps for a while, and/or they have done a reset and lost their old versions.
Rating: 8 Votes

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