Warning: This is a rant against Apple iOS. If you are an Apple fanboy or fangirl, don’t read this or you may get offended. Just kidding — it’s not offensive. I’m just venting a frustration I have about iOS.
One of my biggest complaints about Apple iOS is the seemingly planned obsolesce they put into their products. What brought this to bear was when I was working on a friend’s iPod Touch 1G. This product was launched in September of 2007, and at the time was the only thing of its kind. It was an iPhone, less the camera, less the phone. My friend had previously had something go awry with the device and had taken it to an Apple Store to get it serviced. The Apple Store upgraded iOS to current version and got everything up to speed on the device. It was not too long ago when something else went awry, and she brought it back to the same store. They flashed the device with iOS 2.1.2 (she had previously purchased the 3.1.3 upgrade) and they did not restore the settings. She was then told that they could not service the device. After this, she brought it to me and asked if I could help. I took it and was able to upgrade the device to the latest iOS for the device and install some apps that she wanted…and it was plain vanilla – no jail breaking or any of that nonsense.
Through this process though, I had some difficulty with the device. Perhaps the biggest difficulty was finding apps that work with the iOS 3.1.3. The App Store does not filter out apps based on a minimum iOS version. Rather, they don’t tell you this until you have selected the app and have selected to install the app on the device. It is here that they tell you that the app is not compatible. If they’d just filtered the app in the first place, they’d saved me a lot of time. I didn’t want to think that there was a lacking feature – perhaps I was missing something somewhere. So I went looking for a way to filter the out incompatible apps on the device itself, in the App Store online, and in iTunes. Nothing. I did find, however, that that there is a filter feature included in the latest App Store app only on the iPad. So, yeah, I’m beginning to think that the nag screen that tell me the app isn’t compatible and these other annoyances are subliminal ways to tell get me to buy a new device. My iPod Touch 2G was released in September of 2008, a year after the original iPod touch was released. It was barely 2 years old when Apple gave it the ax from software updates. It is beginning to suffer the same problems the iPod Touch 1G are suffering.
But the problem here is not hardware. The iPod Touch 1G is not technically obsolete, even by today’s standards. It sports a 620 Mhz (underclocked at 412 Mhz) processor and 128 megs of RAM – specs on par with mid to low end smartphones. The iPod Touch 2G has similar specs, though it’s clocked at 533 Mhz. Such hardware is still very capable of running apps, so I do not think the problem is technical obsolesces in the least bit. But by not releasing software updates for the devices they fall into functional obsolesce.
As a point of comparison, I thought about some PC’s that I use. My current “main” computer I’ve had it about 24 months now. It came with Windows 7 and it will likely run Windows 8 quite well. I’m already running it in a virtual machine. I do not foresee giving up this PC, even in the next 2 to 3 years. And by any measure it is still a pretty decent PC. At the same time, I have another PC, built in 2005. It has a Centrino processor with 2 gigs of RAM and runs Windows 7 32-bit without missing a beat. My suspicion is that it will run Windows 8 32-bit too without a problem, which would probably breathe a few more years of life into an already 7 year old PC. Microsoft has been good about ensuring that their software runs on older hardware through the years. I remembering installing Windows XP on a 400 Mhz Pentium II laptop with 128 Megs of RAM circa 2004, and it ran without a problem. Even so, if a computer does not meet Microsoft’s minimum requirements, there are still alternatives to Windows, such as BSD and Linux. Up until about 2 years ago, I used to use an old Pentium 3 as a home server running Linux for sharing files, doing backups, and sharing a printer with my other computers. Apple neither insures backwards compatibility with old hardware, nor is there an alternative to choose from, at least not yet anyways. I have hope that the iDroid project will successfully port Android to iOS devices. Then I could install Android and perhaps breathe new life into the device.