Got an old iPhone 3G or 3GS kicking around that won’t see an upgrade to iOS 7? Apple is now offering a bitter pill by allowing users to download the last compatible version of an app for that hardware/software combo.
On the eve of iOS 7, the move is meant to allow users an opportunity to engage with apps that would otherwise become unusable in the new version. Many developers have set minimum OS targets of iOS 6, and will require iOS 7 as soon as possible, to ensure they are taking advantage of the latest APIs offered by Apple. For example, iOS 7 offers background updates that can be activated at times when the device is idle, plugged in and/or connected to WiFi. Features like AirDrop, which allows users to transfer files and photos between devices over WiFi Direct, is another iOS 7 addition, and developers seem keen to add them as soon as possible.
Though it’s expected that the vast majority of iOS users will update to iOS 7 as soon as possible — iOS 6 has an over 90% install rate — this move is Apple’s way of extending an olive branch to older hardware or jailbroken users who may not want to take on the latest software release. It’s unclear whether iOS 7 will offer exploits for hackers to find an untethered jailbreak, but it took a very long time for iOS 6 to get to that stage.