When Apple announced that iOS 6, the latest version of its mobile OS, would work with older devices all of the way back to the iPhone 3GS, people cheered. It’s not typical these days for major software updates to support 3 year-old products.

But don’t give Tim Cook and company the Nobel Peace Prize just yet. Some two-year old devices, like the original iPad, aren’t getting any iOS 6 love. And even the ones that are supported aren’t guaranteed to have access to all of its features…

We touched on this a bit this morning with a few of the new Maps features. But apparently it extends to other iOS 6 apps and features as well. This list comes straight from the disclaimer on Apple’s iOS 6 page:

  • Flyover and turn-by-turn navigation – iPhone 4S and iPad 2 or later
  • Siri – iPhone 4S and third generation iPad
  • Shared Photo Streams – iPhone 4 or later and iPad 2 or later
  • FaceTime over cellular – iPhone 4S and third generation iPad
  • VIP inbox – iPhone 4 or later and iPad 2 or later
  • Offline Reading List – iPhone 4 or later and iPad 2 or later

So as you can see, even though the 3GS will be eligible to upgrade to iOS 6 when it drops later this year, it may not be worth it. No 3D Maps, turn-by-turn navigation, Shared Photo Streams, VIP inbox, or Offline Reading List. What gives?

Aside from the Maps stuff (performance maybe?), we can’t figure out why Apple would feel the need to hold 3GS users back from all of these features. Maybe it’s a ploy to nudge them into upgrading?

If that’s the case, then the move may end up backfiring. Folks are already complaining about how confusing this will be to consumers, and worse, how it could end up causing fragmentation on the platform.

What do you think?


  • Dylan King

    The lack of flyover on iPod touch is disappointing. But I probably would have only used it once and forgotten about it. I won’t use photo stream or VIP inboxes. All that appeals to me is the offline reading list.

  • this is apple’s f**k you to the user

    • Not really, no. It’s not very common for a company to support devices as old as the 3GS in the newer softwares, even if not everything is supported.

  • No, Apple, I’m NOT going to upgrade from my iPhone 4 to an iPhone 4S just for those iOS 6 capabilities. Announce the next iPhone, and then we’ll talk, alright?

    • Exactly. I won’t upgrade my iPad 2 or iPhone 4 until iPhone 5 and the New New iPad (lol).

      Not enough change to justify the cost.

    • Solowalker

      Apple isn’t trying to get users to upgrade to 4S for these features. This is a developer beta, not something you need or even really want to download and install on your everyday phone if you’re not a developer. Developers get early access to new OS versions for 2 reasons: 1) See what’s new and get their own apps updated in time for public release. 2) They are very significantly more forgiving when unfinished software has problems compared to Joe Shmoe and generally are quite adept at documenting and reporting issues so they can be fixed for when Joe Shmoe can install it.

      Apple won’t expect or want people to buy new phones until the OS is released, which historically has coincided with new hardware. Then you can go upgrade your phone. And that phone will likely have hardware specific features in iOS 6, if they follow their past trends, too. Even developers aren’t tossing their 4 for a 4S just to test out these new features, so PLEASE don’t do that yourself.

      And DO NOT install the beta just to get the new features early. If you do, you may regret it and end up complaining about how horrible it is and may restore back to 5.1 anyway because it could be that buggy. Apple doesn’t need the complaints or bad PR because inexperienced users are playing with unfinished software. (Incidentally, that’s another reason for the NDA, not just to try to keep certain technologies secret until release so competition has less time to react.)

      • If you install the iOS beta you cannot restore it back to 5.1, FYI.  

      • Solowalker

        Haven’t done it myself, but I’m pretty sure DFU -> Restore works. Now, you may not be able to restore from backup and would have to start over, but you could get back to 5.1.

      • can so i did twice now back on 6 for testing

    • Emre SÜMENGEN

      As Solowalker says below, you won’t dump your i4 for i4S (I did, and I don’t regret selling my i4 while it made good money second hand though).

      They will make people dump their old phones for an iPhone5 this fall. And a lot of brand-new-alike iPhone4S devices will be on sale, let me tell you 😉

  • kekuta

    Ha…that is a good one….

  • The 3GS scenario is further evidence we could be getting a new device in sync release with ios6 – probably iphone5 which will nudge those people with that device to finally upgrade!

    • Solowalker

      Unfortunately, part of the reality is that the 3GS is still being sold as new on contract today. There are people buying into an iPhone today that won’t get all of these new features. It’s quite sad.

      • 2008crna

        It isn’t sad. People who buy the 3GS under contract usually don’t care about having the latest/greatest technology. Furthermore, they buy the older tech because it is cheaper and it allows them to have many of the features we enjoy as iPhone users. I only upgraded to the 4S because I hated AT&T so much that I paid an early termination fee and switched to Verizon. The coverage where I work in the hospital is superior to AT&T in the hospital I work in.

      • Solowalker

        It is quite sad because it’s not very Apple-like. It’s not like Apple to sell something as “new” only to drop support for it before essentially all models of that device are out of warranty. Traditionally with Apple, if your device could have been purchased new from Apple and you could have purchased AppleCare, your device has been all but guaranteed to be considered “new” and would be fully supported and capable. For an iPhone that can very reasonably be translated to the term of your contract.

        It’s not at all like Apple to drop major support for a product and say, “Well, that’s what you get for buying the cheap one.” Sure, you may not always get *all* of the features, but as cool as the missing features usually are they are typically few in number and have somewhat decent technical reasons behind the omission. Apple’s history didn’t contain many arbitrary exceptions to this “rule” until recently. This change is what’s sad.

        In this case, something like Flyover and turn-by-turn/Siri would be a somewhat understandable feature gap. FaceTime over cellular is quite a stretch, but even I could get let that go (see my other post here about that). It’s things like Shared Photo Stream, VIPs, and Offline Reading List that are really sad. I can’t think of any technical reason that Apple could throw at us for those.

        Imagine this. You’ve got your shiny new 4S. You share some pictures with your wife who has a new 4. She shows the photos to her mom who has a new 3GS. Her mom wants you to share the photos with her, too. Now you have to explain to her why you can’t. Well, her phone is new, right? Does she need to upgrade her software to get this? No, she’s on the same version as you are. So why in the world can’t you share those photos with her? No reason. She just can’t. So you proceed to tell her she needs to buy a new new phone to share photos.

        That’s sad. And very un-Apple like. And it’ll be even worse if it doesn’t get iOS 7.

  • Do you expect them to support a 4 year old product? Because with the release there will be the new iPhone, then 4s, 4, and finally 3GS. It is great they are trying but the hardware just doesn’t fit the bill in many cases. Regardless I’m happy I got a 4s so most of the shenanigans are behind me

    • Solowalker

      While it was originally released 3 years ago (will be 4 generations old, but released in 2009) it’s still being sold as new today. I’m sure the people buying a brand spanking new 3GS today would like Apple to support their phone at least through the duration of their contract. The real test will come with iOS 7. Now, I don’t have a 3GS (I have a near 2 year old 4) but I do hope for Apple’s sake that the 3GS gets iOS 7.

  • CooperB

    For my iPhone 4 this should be called 5.5.

    • jose castro

      for facetime 3g its called 3g unrestrictor lol screw the update im good for a while

  • Dylan King

    Any one who bought a “new” iPod touch is gonna be pissed.

    • the 4th or the new one that Apple is going to be release?

  • Welp, iPhone 3gs is officialy dead, I’ll be sticking to 5.1.1

    • just because you cant use some ios6 features that doesnt mean you hav to ignore the update completely…!!…

  • No 3G FaceTime on iphone 4 wtf but why ???
    It is clearly jailbreaking that is keeping people from not leaving Apple. Seriously id be gone IF there was none.

    • Solowalker

      Likely for bandwidth concerns. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t had much success with FaceTime over 3G with my 4 unless I’m in a downtown metro area where cell towers are closer in proximity. Unfortunately, I don’t live in that kind of an area so anytime I do try over 3G, I have to be standing very still or moving toward a cell tower to get any kind of usable performance. With 4S’s better and higher speed antennas, I’m sure the extra 1-2 Mbps it gets makes all the difference. For Apple, it’s all about the quality of the experience, not just doing it because you can do it.

      • I live in The Netherlands small country 3G coverage everywhere FaceTime over 3G works perfectly tried it with FaceBreak lots. So no problem here mate.

      • 2008crna

        Likewise, the Facetime over the cellular network works just fine if you have a decent cell signal, albeit highly pixelated. This was the case with the iPhone 4 I had and now the iPhone 4S.

      • Solowalker

        “If you have a decent cell signal.” That’s the problem. More particularly not just reception but bandwidth. It’s quite common to have 4 bars of signal but not enough bandwidth to make for a decent experience. Like I said, the improved antennas and faster theoretical cell speed might just be enough for Apple to say it’s good enough. I’d definitely like for Apple to enable this on the 4, little reason for them not to. Just saying if they’re going to draw some silly arbitrary line here, this is probably contributing to their line of thought.

  • Out of the 6 items you picked none cover the 3GS .. So what is this device getting again ?
    And why was the iPod 3gen dropped and the 3GS not ?
    And why was the A4 chip iPad 1st gen dropped.. Apple forceing people to update devices that work fine yet again..

    • i think that the iOS 6 has some features that needed a camera to be use, i think that is why Apple is not installing iOS 6 on iPod Touch 3rd Gen

      • The iPad 1 doesn’t have a camera too.. But not all apps need to use a camera.. It’s just apple forceing upgrades on to people ..

    • MohzeenHansrod

      Duh? They want money?

      • My god your quick… Around of applause for you..you don’t get it do you..the iPad 1 will run iOS 6 because the 3GS can.. and the chip in that is crap against the A4 chip of the iPad ..

      • MohzeenHansrod

        Yes, I get it. Basically you’re saying they’re “forcing” you to update and buy the new device.

        =They want more money.

        Anything else you don’t understand?

      • I understand all of it my friend.. I’am not new at this …

      • MohzeenHansrod

        At what exactly? Not understanding simple business concept? 

  • I was kinda sad about the iPhone not getting Flyover or turn by turn but by then Im sure ill be getting the new iPhone just in time for my upgrade availability to open 😀

  • I believe it’s pretty simple. They want those w older models to upgrade. As reliable as the older products are. They want to increase sales and profit therefore limiting their features on older models and making them only available on newly recent products. At least that’s how I see it. 

  • Mathew Rice

    This isn’t anything new.
    It happened with the iPhone 3G when iOS 4 dropped.
    The iPhone 3G was not only crippled in the performance category, but stopped receiving updates after 4.2.1 – so there really isn’t any reason to have concerns.
    There have been articles about Apple’s Software Update policies that detail how there is a minimum of 2-years of guaranteed Software Updates.
    At this point in time, a person buying a 3GS is likely not concerned about missing features and Apple is likely not looking to have a repeat of the iPhone 3G flounder that was iOS 4.

    Well, those are my thoughts and opinions 😛

  • what will be on the ipod touch 4g

    • Music and apps and a case if your lucky

  • In case anyone wants to try iOS6 without a UDID, here’s how you do it. First, make sure you’re on a clean install of iOS5.1.1. Next, obtain an iOS6 ipsw (figure out how to do this yourself). Finally, go to iTunes 10.6.3 (latest version) and shift+click (Windows) or option+click (Mac) on the “Check for Update” button and select your iOS6 ipsw. You MUST click the “Check for Update” button. If you click “Restore,” you’ll get an activation failed message after installing iOS6. So anyway, just let iTunes install it and your device won’t need to go through activation. I have no idea why this works and how Apple could have failed to notice something so simple, but hey, it works. I tried it on my 4th gen iPod Touch. This’ll probably get fixed in iOS6 beta 2, so do it while you can.

    • jose castro

      sweet it works

  • iPhone 4, worst iPhone yet. I can’t believe they are treating it like such a crappy phone!

  • Dan

    The fact that iPhone 4 is not supported for facetime over 3G and turn by turn navigation is bull. facetime can be easily remedied with jailbreaking but I’m really disappointed about the navigation.

    I love Apple products but they can truly be douches sometimes. It’s clear that the iPhone 4 can handle the task, they simply hope that people will upgrade their products by withholding certain features. If it didn’t work for Siri, it won’t work for this…

  • F**k I want Siri on my iPad 2

    • 2008crna


    • not to mention on the iPod Touch 4th Gen and the iPhone 3rd and 4th Gen

      • I think 3rd is dead but i agréé on iPod touch 4th

  • Appletiser

    “Aside from the Maps stuff (performance maybe?)” yeah for performance but in a negative way. people will update, just like 3G owners did to iOS4 only to discover that their 3G devices sucked big time for performance which encouraged them to want to upgrade. same will happen, 3GS owners will update, cripple their devices, then as Apple hopes, upgrade to a newer model. im not cynical, it’s business, im still more than happy with my 3GS so won’t be updating or upgrading any time soon 🙂

    • Till nw i was…but apple nailed marketing stuff…as till nw my 3gs used to do everything what 4s cud (minus siri )…bt now when i c so many features missing..dey r making me upgrade….profits run the business…so no hard feelings…:)

  • Kinda bummed out so many of these new features are only for the iPad 2 beyond and 4S..

  • iPad 1 support is out, this is really not fair, its like 2y old device, still in sales, eh moneygrabing policies at work!

  • f5faith

    I highly doubt it’ll cause fragmentation. It is inevitable for older devices to soon becomes obsolete. The fact that Apple has chosen to limit features on older devices makes complete sense, I mean if you made a product would you keep updating the product 4 years on with exactly the same features as the product you’ve just released? Why would anyone bother buying anything new from you at all? Granted the iPhone 3GS may be capable of handling Siri and 3D Maps but it isn’t up to Apple’s high standards as well as your own expectations of Apple products. So would you rather a phone that works or one with many features but barely works?

  • Anyone still using an iPhone 3GS today probably doesn’t care about upgrades or any of the features offered in iOS 6. Or iOS 5 for that matter. They just want a smart phone that can play their music, surf the mobile web, and maybe make a dinner reservation or buy movie tickets now and then. Kudos to them for getting it for free.

  • i just managed to install ios6 without a dev account or UDID register. hit me up if ya wanna know how i did it. and i did not use an hack or jailbreak and i can prove it.

  • Doesn’t iPod Touch count in the iPhone 4 or later section?

    Because if not they gotta be fucking with us.. why is there no new iTouch which does have the iOS6 features 🙁

    • no, the iPhone has the phone app and the iPod Touch doesn’t, just has the message app

  • Perfectly satisfied with my modded iPhone 3GS 32GB until the 5 comes out, cant keep giving you my money Apple for simple stuff…better yet announce the 3GS as obsolete and ill let it go, prolly give it to a lil kid who needs a device or something

  • Guys relax… We’re still at beta 1… Still a long way to go before the public release…

  • now..i have a iPhone4(S) of these features i could care less other then the FT over 3G..well actually over 4G LTE would be VERY… straining because of those data caps. I’ll still keep my Jailbreak though, and as Far as Siri for my iPad2..idc to be honest because i have it on my iPhone. Turn-by-turn is cool thought..but i can’t see why on earth ya would want it on the iTouch since it’s only a Wi-Fi only device. How would you manage to use it.i WAS..however hoping there would be a GLIMPS on the new iPhone…but i guess we’ll have to wait until the next Live event which is idk when.

  • Uou say iphone 4 and ipad2or larer does it include itouch 4???

  • have you noticed ipod touch 4 gen is not getting updated with new a5 chip

  • iOS 6 on the 3GS might as well be 5.1.2

  • There will be more features coming out when iOS 6 finally drops to the public. And some of those will not be available for the iPhone 4S. And this is why I hate apple as a company.

  • I have a 3GS, but I only need Facebook intergration. And I know I’ll not use Shared Photo Stream and VIP mailbox, even when I have it. I look once a month in the Maps app and I don’t use the reading list of iOS 5 at all. So no problem. Still love Apple.

  • Wael Abdo

    iPhone 3gs yes but iPad 1 no? weird

    •  i know, but also the iPod Touch 3rd Gen, weird isn’t it?

  • As a 3rd-gen iPad owner and a future Galaxy SIII owner…I can live with this. Though I wonder if Google will make their Maps available on the App Store now that it isn’t included with the OS.

    Me, Google fanboi? Never…

    EDIT: Oh, and my bet on iOS 6 for the 3GS is that Apple wanted to wean 3GS users off of Google products just as much as 4/4S users. And I’ll bet there are some security holes in iOS 5 that Apple fixed in 6…and they don’t want to leave out a contingent of users who could have bought their 3GS in the very recent past.

  • If you update the iphone 4 to iOS 6 will it get Siri???

  • “Shared Photo Streams
    VIP Inbox
    Offline Reading List”

    Not available for 3GS? How is this even processor intensive or using a lot of RAM?

  • Why iphone4 dont have the FaceTime over cellular =(

  • Érico Gonçalves

    Why no FaceTime over cellular for iPad 2 if it is more powerfull than iPhone 4S? I didn’t get this…

  • dave villa

    guess the apple fanboys with shutup now about fragmentation lol…

  • i wonder if there is going to be a untethered jailbreak for iOS 6, also that sux for people who has iPod Touch 3rd and the first iPad

  • Aric Bolf

    If the current Google maps app disappears when upgrading an iPhone 4 to iOS 6, i will not update my phone. The maps app as it is, is way too valuable to lose it for a year until my 2 years is up to get a new phone. I’m willing to bet there will be a lot of people making this same decision. If there is, Apple’s bragging rights to 80% people running the current OS will go out the door. I don’t need turn by turn, but i do need what i currently have.

  • If people update there iphone 4 to iOS 6 will they get siri????

  • Honestly, I jail broke my 3GS to do some things like this. I will say honestly the hardware will NOT handle it very well if at all. It sucks, but its true. It was probably more that they wanted these features, and went through with it, but when they tried it on old phones it was un-usable. I don’t think that all maps app will be deleted. I think instead the extended functions will just be disabled. As far as the siri limitation goes, I think that the 3GS will be incapable of performing the tasks ahead for it in iOS 6 and forward that it was an unfortunate decision that had to be made. But this is just speculation.  The shared photo probably has to do with future iPhoto and library device requirements. This is because the iOS files are slightly different for each device, but it could still be playable-im not sure… The offline reading list and the others I have no clue about. 

  • 3D Maps on my iPod 4G are also NOt working. What’s the compatibility for 3D Maos on iOS 6 Beta 1. HELP. Urgent.

    • 3D maps only for iPhone 4s and iPad 3

  • OsX

    I think apple are right to do this and they do it with good reason, jailbreak brings most if not all of those features any way

  • While it might be natural to take the user’s perspective, and then focus on the few bits of eye candy from the keynote that come from Apple, you are missing the most important part of this, which is the developer’s perspective. People love their iPhones and iPads because of the apps they use, and most of those are not written by Apple.

    So, developers benefit massively here for two reasons: first, there’s plenty more under the hood that iOS6 brings that will translate into better apps for all users (not everyone is trying to use Flyover or Siri in their apps); and second, if all users are on the same version of iOS then it makes it much easier to support older devices because you can focus development time. So instead of not bothering to make a version for the iPhone 3GS at all because it can’t upgrade to iOS6 and therefore it’s too much work to do an iOS5 only version in addition to iOS6, people with an iPhone 3GS still get to enjoy the latest apps.

    People who think this is a ploy by Apple to get everyone to upgrade really have no understanding of how things work. Hardware is gaining potential in massive leaps and jumps, so it is *inevitable* that devices will have shorter upgrade cycles. But it doesn’t mean that people *have* to upgrade. And as I’ve explained, Apple’s approach to iOS is as good as you could hope for as a user in these circumstances.

  • All it is doing is supporting devices that are still in production. The iPad 1, nor iPod Touch 3G, are in production still.

  • What I think is stupid is that the third generation iPod touch came out MONTHS AFTER the iPhone 3GS, however, the 3GS is supported but the 3rd gen iPod touch isn’t. That is the most confusing part.