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When new apps and old iOS devices don't mix

#1 User is offline   Macworld 

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 11:31 AM

Post your comments for When new apps and old iOS devices don't mix here
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#2 User is offline   blecch 

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  Posted 17 January 2012 - 11:54 AM

This is a HUGE problem.

Update management is a disaster. As this article mentioned, it is awful when an update breaks or ruins your favorite app. Or when you can't get the version that actually runs on your device!

iTunes should make it easy to save old versions of apps and revert to them as desired.

Chris, it's just crazy that you had to make an automator workflow to do this! (But it is a pretty crafty workaround - I'm going to use it!)

I am also puzzled that Apple doesn't simply allow you to download the version that actually works on your device.

(I ran into the same problem with SlingPlayer - it used to work on iOS 4, but the latest version requires iOS 5.
Being stuck on iOS 4 is apparently Apple's way of punishing customers for buying an OS X Tiger machine rather than a PC with Windows XP.)

This post has been edited by blecch: 17 January 2012 - 12:05 PM

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#3 User is offline   soulatrium 

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  Posted 17 January 2012 - 11:59 AM

It's hard for Apple to be the one overseeing all of this, because often updated apps will be the only version of the app that works with whatever service the app connects to. So, guiding people to the older app version would only cause additional headaches.

Seems to me it's the developer's responsibility to code apps in such a way that the updates don't break compatibility with older devices. Plenty of games work in this way, with the app behaving differently depending on the hardware it's launching on. Now, whether it's worth the extra work for the developer to do that is another matter.
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#4 User is offline   bastion 

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 12:42 PM

View Postblecch, on 17 January 2012 - 11:54 AM, said:

(I ran into the same problem with SlingPlayer - it used to work on iOS 4, but the latest version requires iOS 5.
Being stuck on iOS 4 is apparently Apple's way of punishing customers for buying an OS X Tiger machine rather than a PC with Windows XP.)


The difference is that as a Windows user with XP you'd be smack in the middle of the bell curve. As a Mac user with 10.4, you're well into the lower tail.

I think Apple's priorities with respect to versions of each platform are quite defensible. They're not supporting XP because they want to write code for a 10-year-old OS. They're supporting XP because to not do so would eliminate roughly half of their potential market.
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#5 User is offline   Chris Breen 

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 12:46 PM

View Postblecch, on 17 January 2012 - 11:54 AM, said:

I am also puzzled that Apple doesn't simply allow you to download the version that actually works on your device.


It's tough in cases like this where you have multiple iOS devices--some old and some new. I suppose Apple could build intelligence into iTunes where it would know that you've synced old and new devices and kept compatible copies for all devices. But that's not the way of the world currently. That's why your best bet is to simply establish separate libraries for your old and new devices.

If you update from your iOS device you have greater protection because you can't download incompatible versions.

#6 User is offline   graxspoo 

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  Posted 17 January 2012 - 12:52 PM

I agree, app updating behavior is not good. For example, I had an app on my iPhone that I decided I didn't need any more, so I deleted it. A few weeks later I realized it would be nice to have again, so I try to re-download it from the App Store, but now the available version is not compatible with my device.
Similarly, on my iPad 2, there were some apps that had newer versions that were not as good as the older versions. My wife hit "update all" in the app store, and now there's no way to go back to the earlier versions.
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#7 User is offline   Curmudgeon2 

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  Posted 17 January 2012 - 02:03 PM

You should also be backing up if you aren't already. Time Machine makes it dead easy, and then you can always retrieve and restore older versions of any app that gets updated. To
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#8 User is offline   RobertEasterday 

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 02:19 PM

View Postsoulatrium, on 17 January 2012 - 11:59 AM, said:

Seems to me it's the developer's responsibility to code apps in such a way that the updates don't break compatibility with older devices. Plenty of games work in this way, with the app behaving differently depending on the hardware it's launching on. Now, whether it's worth the extra work for the developer to do that is another matter.


Thats easier said than done. One of the things that distinguishes Mac OSX from Windows is that Apple is much more aggressive at deprecating old OS's and APIs. Like it or hate it, it keeps the OS from becoming bloated beyond their ability to maintain it. This puts additional burden on app developers to keep up and to make similar tough decisions about supporting older hardware. I hate to use an old and trite expression, but when all is said and done "its just business".

Now having said that, Apple could do a MUCH better job at allowing older app versions to continue installing to older devices even if the user upgrades to an app version that no longer supports that device. What it would require would be some judicious version checking and file copying under the hood of iTunes. That and some pertinent feedback to the user explaining that their specific device will not get the update.

This post has been edited by RobertEasterday: 17 January 2012 - 02:29 PM

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#9 User is offline   bastion 

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 02:30 PM

View PostRobertEasterday, on 17 January 2012 - 02:19 PM, said:

View Postsoulatrium, on 17 January 2012 - 11:59 AM, said:

Seems to me it's the developer's responsibility to code apps in such a way that the updates don't break compatibility with older devices. Plenty of games work in this way, with the app behaving differently depending on the hardware it's launching on. Now, whether it's worth the extra work for the developer to do that is another matter.


Thats easier said than done. One of the things that distinguishes Mac OSX from Windows is that Apple is much more aggressive at deprecating old OS's and APIs.


And a large part of the reason they're able to do that is that Mac users are generally more willing than Windows users to upgrade. This, unfortunately, is problematic for the minority who are unable to.
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#10 User is offline   DocNo 

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 05:12 PM

If aperture can have versions, why can't iTunes? It's crazy that Apple doesn't have a better solution for this. I have an older iPhone that I use as an iPod touch and this is a huge PITA - distinctly un-apple like!
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#11 User is offline   RickYackel 

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  Posted 17 January 2012 - 07:29 PM

Apple should start thinking about a Rollback Feature. There was an app that was nice and simple and it worked well. Then one day after a few "Update All"s it didn't work without registering at some website and buying the Desktop app. It was just fine as it was. Apple: Let me Roll it back to an older version and let me Mark it as not eligible for update in the Update All. We buy these apps, or get them on sale and all of a sudden they are useless. My 2G iPhone is starting to get obliterated by these updates.
It won't be long before my 1st Gen iPad and then my 4s are suffering from this too. We should be able to roll back our updates. This is starting to affect the value of the iPhone. If I want my Phone to be less functional as it ages.
It's possible that a 4 year old Android device might be more functional than a 4 year old iOS device! That is not a consumer friendly position to be in.
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#12 User is offline   forrestsun 

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  Posted 18 January 2012 - 09:14 AM

Not too long ago, the Netflix (Canada) app got an update for compatibility with iOS5 (and no where mentioning that it is not compatible with iOS4 devices), after updating no iOS4 user was able to even start the app. It's rating was shoot down to 1 star within days. It may have been resolved, but for those days that it wasn't, the users got stuck with a non-working app for a service they are paying for ($9/month). Not all developers are careful or capable, that's why there should be a roll back function.

Someone suggested using iTunes older library, what about those who just use the iPad/iPod as a stand-alone device? I can't remember the last time I synced my iPad with my Mac, as it's mostly self-maintained now, right?
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#13 User is offline   k88dad 

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 09:34 AM

View PostCurmudgeon2, on 17 January 2012 - 02:03 PM, said:

You should also be backing up if you aren't already. Time Machine makes it dead easy, and then you can always retrieve and restore older versions of any app that gets updated. ...

Wise advice. Time Machine is Apple's answer to many of the issues in the comments. Apple offering multiple app versions and selective downloading based upon hardware is simply unworkable on the scale of the iTunes App Store. In addition, there are other ways of protecting yourself from accidental updates to non-working app status. Some possibilities:

1. Don't "update all". This is questionable on a new device. It's really unwise on, say, a 2nd gen. Touch. I carefully look over user comments/minimum specs on new updates before downloading them. This is micro-management and won't work for many people. It can be very useful for "mission critical" apps. This is also one way to avoid the dreaded downgrade to app functionality.
2. Always update apps on your computer. This has the distinct advantage of putting the previous version in your trash (make sure you don't auto-delete trash, of course.) You can then move the previous version to a temporary folder until you've tested the new version. Those who only backup a portion of their hard drive can make sure that this temp folder is located where it will be backed up. [ Oddly, the Mac App Store is even worse. For those updates, the previous version is gone. You have to rename or copy the app before updating. ]

On the topic of the article, I use a separate computer for my 2nd gen. Touch. If the hardware is in use anyway, that is a simpler solution than using a separate iTunes library. A 2nd gen. Touch is not capable of wireless updates (no iOS 5,) so no surprises there. [EDIT: I'm referring to wireless updates of apps downloaded elsewhere by iOS 5/newer hardware users in this last sentence--that could be confusing.]

This post has been edited by k88dad: 18 January 2012 - 09:43 AM

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#14 User is offline   k88dad 

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 09:39 AM

View Postforrestsun, on 18 January 2012 - 09:14 AM, said:

... what about those who just use the iPad/iPod as a stand-alone device? I can't remember the last time I synced my iPad with my Mac, as it's mostly self-maintained now, right?

The trade off with not connecting your iPad to a computer is the loss of any advantages associated with doing so. See my previous post.
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