I wrote this article out of frustration regarding the good old Apple iPad 1. My wife still uses the iPad 1 for reading books and for maintaining her weights in an app called Monitor your weight HD from Husain Al-Bustan (Kuwait). She is already doing this for more than 2 years. It’s not the app that frustrates me, it is the way how the lack of version control on the Apple iPad is used to force users to buy a newer iPad.
Apple doesn’t give developers many opportunities to have more versions
Recently I spoke with the developer of the iPad blogging app Blogpad Pro. In the process to make the app better I offered my suggestions. I told him that the app was quite instable on the iPad 1, but not on the iPad Mini. He told me that there were some features that were programmatically not 100% compatible with IOS 5 (the last OS on the iPad 1) and that they try to do the utmost to keep it compatible with release 5.
I asked if it would not be possible not to have an update suggested anymore, if it would not be compatible with an earlier OS release. The answer was clear. Apple doesn’t allow to have the same app in versions for different IOS releases in their store. There is only one version of a certain app. Music service Spotify has different releases for different IOS releases, but as different programs in the store.
This situation would mean that updating software could be a nasty trap, if the user doesn’t pay attention. And believe me, my wife just updates when it is suggested, otherwise there is no reason to have an update all button.
The weight app doesn’t work anymore, now what?
So my wife’s favorite weight app doesn’t work anymore after the last update, despite the minimal requirement still is IOS release 4.3, now what? Well, it is surprising how many bloggers explain how you can restore older versions of software on an iPad, but the options exhaust quickly. Apple doesn’t have a native mechanism to restore older versions of software with which you were very happy, but were ruined after the latest update. This shows that you don’t actually buy the software and have a right for free additional updates, but that you pay for the right to use the software. Any update is always to the latest release.
I know that developers want to produce the best app for the device and don’t pay to much attention to any compatibility issues with older hardware, but to have absolutely no decent possibility through iTunes to restore an older version can only be coming from the minds of marketeers.
Because of the completely sealed policy of controlling the publication and sales of apps in the Apple iStore, there is absolutely no escape for users that are very happy with their older device and like to keep the decision to themselves, rather than to Apple, when to invest in new hardware. And referring to the use of old versions of web browsers like Microsoft Internet Explorer, I imagine that there are still a lot of operational iPad 1’s around.
Too much power to the hardware manufacturer
In the mid eighties of the last century Microsoft managed to take the power away from hardware manufacturers. By selling MS-DOS to other computer manufacturers than IBM, they made the software in control over the hardware. This situation has changed a lot since Apple (Steve Jobs hated open hardware) built a strict regime on controlling hardware and software. It is impossible to build software for an Apple without having the blessing to promote in the Apple iStore. And outside the store, your app simply does not exist. That is a large step beyond only closed hardware. It is domination.
And since Apple showed that total control has it benefits (and even gets legally away with it), other manufacturers follow. And not only limited to hardware manufacturers. Even Microsoft has to beg Google not to reject another version of Microsoft’s own developed YouTube app for Windows 8 mobile.
Why do so many like Apple so much?
I follow quite some discussions on the internet about Apple subjects. I am astonished how often their strategy and technical developments are defended by what seems to be real Apple fanatics. I can’t understand how a company can be idolized who is trying so hard to dominate in what we need and how we need it. It is far from user friendly to have new software releases push customers to buying the latest hardware.
It should be the customers choice if he likes to buy new hardware. Until that decision is made, he should have the right to use any former release of installed software that suits him (or the device) best.
Software rollback or downgrade mechanism
There is no other conclusion possible then that Apple offers a hardware compatible software downgrade or rollback mechanism in the iTunes store. But as long as there is a an update all button in iTunes many people will get trapped in the marketing web of Apple.
Meanwhile I hope that the developer of the weight app will correct the compatibility error. It would bring some peace back in my home.