There has been much handwringing over this past summer about how Apple’s new iOS 7 will affect people’s favorite apps. Apple changed the design of iOS this year to feature more colors and have a sleeker, flatter design. Apps that do not conform to Apple’s new aesthetic will seem out of place in the latest version of iOS.
Hence, there has been a rush among top developers over the past several months to be ready with hot, new versions of their apps when iOS 7 officially ships. That day has finally come with the public version of iOS 7 available for download and installation tomorrow, September 18.
But what about people who can't or won't download the latest version of iOS 7? Those people do exist, no matter how much Apple wants them to upgrade. Will their trusted apps stop working when the iOS 7-ready versions become available?
People still use older iPhones, iPod Touches and iPads they don't bother to upgrade to the latest iOS version—often enough because they can't be bothered, or because upgrading would break some work-related app they need for their job, or simply because they can't. For instance, the original iPad won't be able to receive the iOS 7 update. Neither will any iPod Touch prior to the fifth (most recent) generation. Any iPhone before the iPhone 4 will be left out as well.
Apple's Solution For The iOS 7-less
For users who do not have iOS 7, Apple has created the ability to download the most recent older compatible version of an app. One user on Reddit reports getting a message on his second-generation iPod Touch when downloading an app that would only work with iOS 5 or later. A test with an iPod Touch running iOS 3.1 by ReadWrite confirmed the result.
This is new for Apple. In the past, if an app was not compatible with a user’s version of iOS, the app simply wouldn’t work. Yet, as the iPhone grows in age (the iPhones 5s/5c are the sixth generation), Apple recognizes the increasing importance of supporting older devices with compatible apps. The company has built-in features for developers in iOS 7 that allow them to support both the newest version of the operating system as well as iOS 6, which includes Apple’s old design aesthetic and functionality.
In iOS 7, Apple has instituted auto-updates for apps meaning that apps will upgrade themselves in the background as opposed to making the user manually download new versions. Older versions of iOS will not have this feature.