iOS 7 hits iPhones this fall, but only the iPhone 5 and iPod touch will get all the features announced at WWDC. The iPhone 4 and 4S will only get the new iOS 7 look and a splattering of features. And forget about the iPhone 3GS and older iPhones. They will be stuck in the skeuomorphic world of iOS 6 forever.
As shown in our chart below, AirDrop is limited to just the latest devices, including the iPad 4 and iPad mini. The iPhone 4S is missing out on the filters in Camera but it, along with the iPhone 4, does support filters in Photos.
iTunes Radio, the only feature announced today that makes Apple money, will be available on all iOS 7-compatible devices.
Some of these features are also coming to the iPad – except for the original iPad. It too will be stuck with iOS 6. The iPad 2 will only receive the Siri updates and iTunes Radio. Filters in Photos and new capture mode are coming to the iPad 3 and new devices. But even the iPad 4 and iPad mini will not get the panorama or filters in the Camera update.
This is of course an unfortunate side effect of progress: some devices naturally get left behind.
Apple and Google have done a commendable job supporting older hardware with their latest operating systems. Most of the time, including with iOS 7, the limitations are tied to hardware. Either the hardware flat-out doesn’t support the function or only in a fashion that wouldn’t provide a quality user experience.
Apple more so than most companies will only implement features if the user experience does not diminish. When Siri debuted alongside the iPhone 4, Apple didn’t roll the voice command function onto the one-year-old device, which happened to run a slower SoC than the iPhone 4S.
Microsoft took a big hit when it announced that Windows Phone 8 wouldn’t support then-current generation devices. Instead, those users would get some of Windows Phone 8’s user elements, but not its new underpinnings that powered the improved performance. But the new operating system required hardware not found in the devices of the time. Progress hurts sometimes.
When iOS 7 rolls out later this year, hackers and coders will no doubt do their best porting the missing features to older phones. Besides, even if that doesn’t happen, there’s more than likely an app for whatever feature is missing from your phone… because Apple stole most of them anyway.