Apple’s iOS 6 leaves original iPad out in the cold

One of the surprising things about Apple’s new iOS 6, which I reviewed in my column today, is that owners of the original iPad can’t install it.

Apple released the iPad about two-and-a-half years ago. At the time, the company touted the device’s fast processor and slick operation. Yet now the company has essentially declared the device to be obsolete.

If you were one of those who jumped on the iPad bandwagon right away — and paid $500 or more for your device — you have every right to feel duped now.

It’s not that the iPad will suddenly become unusable. But it won’t become much more useful than it already is. The new functions that Apple is adding to iOS, such as Siri or the ability to stream photos to your friends, will never make it to the original iPad. And it’s likely that developers will sooner or later stop writing apps that will run on it, in part because the new features that they can access on other iOS devices won’t run on the old iPad.

But the bigger problem is one of security and stability. Once Apple puts out a new version of iOS, it has traditionally stopped updating older versions. Any new bugs and security holes that are subsequently discovered are left unfixed.

To be sure, it’s not surprising that Apple has decreed that certain devices won’t get the update. With each new version of iOS or Mac OS, they company usually leaves some devices out in the cold. Apple didn’t make a version of iOS 5 for my iPhone 3G. And with iOS 6, Apple is leaving behind the third-generation iPod touch in addition to the original iPad.

Apple’s seeming rationale for leaving behind certain devices is that it allows the company to improve the software without feeling like it has to be held back by the oldest, slowest devices. The policy also, obviously, encourages new device sales; if you want to get the latest, greatest features — or even an up-to-date copy of the operating system — you have to upgrade to a new device.

From a consumer perspective, that policy is somewhat understandable when it comes to the iPhone. American consumers tend to replace their cell phones every two years, and Apple’s iOS updates usually have been applicable to phones that are more than two years old. For example, the iPhone 3GS, which is now more than three years old, will get a version of iOS 6.

And the update situation for iPhone owners is worlds better than that faced by owners of most Android devices. For them, it’s seldom clear if or when they will get an operating system update; some have had to wait nine months to get the latest version of Android. With iOS, all iPhone owners who have an eligible device can upgrade to the latest version of the software right away.

But Apple’s policy of leaving older devices out in the cold seems remarkably unfair to owners of the original iPad — and a worrisome indicator of Apple’s attitude toward tablet buyers.

Consumers may expect to replace a phone every two years or so, but they don’t generally expect to replace a computer that often. With a computer, you often shell out a larger amount of money (at least up-front) than you would with a phone, and you expect the device to last proportionally longer. The conventional wisdom is that it should last for three to five years. But Apple seems to be suggesting that we ought to replace our iPads ever two years or so — just like the iPhone.

Five hundred dollars (or more) seems a lot to shell out every two years or so for a device that’s being pitched as a new-age PC replacement. Just remember that the next time you consider buying one.


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  • pk de cville

    Get a grip, folks. Apple shipped a functional exciting iPad 2.5 years ago.

    The Android platform still cannot match Apple with only a few ‘made for tablet’ apps.

    Hey, anyone here ever hear about Android upgrade/fragmentation problems?

    Perhaps you might be able to list the 20 Android device models (out of billions SOLD!) that have actually supported a single OS upgrade.

    So comparing Apples to Androids (groan), Android’s fragmentation and lack of upgrade support issues puts it in a class by itself. Android wins again.

    • Kathy

      We expect more from Apple. That’s why we pay more.

      • Paxtor

        no thats where you Fail more 😀

    • Scott Pam

      While Android may have issues with upgrades as you mentioned, their tablets run about $299 and less.

      On the other hand, Apple got $935 for an iPad that was obsoleted two years after it was made.

      I will take the $200 Android tablet and not worry about upgrades. I won’t spend another $900+ for an iPad that is planned to be obsolete two years after it was made.

      I can buy a Kindle Fire, another decent tablet from any company and still put the balance int he bank to buy a new one in four years with the same money I spent on the original iPad.

      • http://Siliconspeak big teach

        Agree iOS updates etc…’s crap…I’ve so far managed to update and upgrade my original iPad for the last 5 years…finally though With the Iios7 it’s defunct at last….can’t get hardly any apps to work that are up to date ie:the uk national lottery soo fed up with this so called, constant updating digital that makes you spend world!!!!!

  • polly serial

    I have an original Ipad and the issue is even more severe than mentioned in this article: I can’t manage (or add) apps in any way using the most recent version of iTunes (which I had to download in order to sync my new phone…). I am a lifelong (I’m 42) user of Apple products and I am utterly fed up. Not a big fan of Android or Windows but as soon as another option emerges (and it will), I am on it.

  • polly serial

    (And needless to say I will not be buying (leasing @40$ a month?) a new ipad of any kind – ever. The Nexus looks fine and if Apple is going to be this greedy, this ‘different’, then they can forget it!)

  • John

    Come on folks who believes all that Apple marketing that their products last? Apple makes products that keep you wanting to upgrade frequently. Why do you think they make so much money? It not because you buy a Mac or a iPad and use it for years. I am typing this on my daughters original iPad and it’s slower then it was when it was new. I guess the IOS 5 must have slowed it down. Another reason to keep buying the next great thing.

  • Paul

    Our original iPad– 2.5 years+ — is still working– so well, in fact, that we’re thinking of returning an unopened iPad 4!! (A Black Friday nicely discounted unit.)

    Yes, we don’t have SIRI– although Vlingo or others give us a taste of that. The iPad 1 doesn’t have a camera, so photo streaming would be out in any case– plus, we’re not into instant broadcast!

    As long as the darn thing keeps running so well– great battery life, speedy, nice display, and the original magic still here–not much reason to change.

    We even managed to get printing working by putting Airprint Activator on our Mac and turning on printer sharing. And there’s no need for our Mac to be open.

    In any event, we knew eventually there’d be an OS that wouldn’t run on our iPad– same thing happens on the Mac, too–but so long as the machine keeps on ticking, no real problem. (As a point of reference, we’re still using an 8-year-old iBook!)

    So, we have no problem with Apple raising the bar, putting out new OSs, and having ours become longer in the tooth.

    The only thing that does gall me a bit is if an older product is perfectly capable of handling something (e.g., SIRI on iPad 2), but Apple blocks that. That’s been pretty rare, though, as people who installed iOS 5 on their 3GS found it running BETTER after putting a more modern OS onto a several year old device.

    Let’s keep things in perspective here, folks!

    Now, where did I put that unopened iPad 4 box? Oh, yeah right down there by the door, using it as a door stop until I return it! :-)

  • Bugsie

    Pretty ridiculous of Apple to do this. Understandable to replace a phone every two years, but something meant as a pc replacement? My iPad1 is already acting up – since the last iOS upgrade, apps crash all the time, its become quite slow… got me thinking that my next phone upgrade will not be an apple product either, such a waste for a supposed environmentally friendly company.

    • Scott

      Sams club ran a black sunday special on the samsung galaxy s3. It cost me $1.03 with tax and I went back for the $99.00 2 year warranty.

      The phone is way more advanced than the stale iphone interface and two days ago it got the jelly bean interface.

      Now I have a super fast phone on 4g that I can upgrade to 64gb by inserting a chip, and can replace the battery without doing microsurgery.

      The camera in the galaxy blows anything in an iphone away asit csn do 3 metering modes, go from iso100 to 800, and has many other options.

      If I wanted to get the same in an iphone, the cost would be over $500 with uograde pricing!

      Bye bye crApple!

  • Jonathan Osamuki

    I remember the first time I held the Original iPad in my hands. Right there and then is when it made sense this device. I had to get one, and I did. It’s been a wonderful run until iOS 6!

    I really understand that the device can’t keep up with the latest requirements of the software but I don’t understand how the iPhone 3GS can’t and the Original iPad can’t.

    Maybe that rationale is to keep 4 generations supported with each update? iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPhone 5. iPad 2, 3, 4 and Mini? But I am looking at getting the iPad 3, refurbished. And the iPhone 5, jumping iPhone 4S.

  • Dmo565

    In Dec. 2010 I got the origional iPad 64GB $829. In Feb, 2011 apple came out with iPad 2. I tried to exchange it but Apple refused to exchange the ipad2 for the origional because it was over 30 days. Now I find out that they are going to stop making upgrades for the original iPad. Well that just ticks me off!!! If people cant upgrade they’re old devices now, how can they expect to keep they’re customers loyal?

  • Thomas McDonagh

    That’s what I like about Wolverton; he writes it like it is.Also the comments by consumers indicate their lack of loyalty to a company when it becomes apparent to them it is selfish and greedy.

  • Bamelin

    Still using my iPad 1. It crashes all the time yet is still my preferred tablet.

  • Kay

    Majorly regretting buying an iPad. I have the original iPad, the week I bought it I was hearing stories about a new iPad coming out, the iPad 2 with a camera. I went to the nearest apple store and asked the manager if a new iPad was going to come out, if so I was just going to wait or the new one. The manager told me no, no new iPads were going to be released for at leat another year or two. So I bought the original. Two weeks later the new iPads hit the shelf. I was livid. And now that I’ve had this thing for about 3 years now I don’t even get to update it unless I spend another $500 or more? I will never own another apple product again.

  • Kevin

    I’ll echo these comments. No more Apple products for me. I was once pickpocketed on the subway in NYC. This feels about the same; like I’ve been duped. Never again Apple!

  • Andrew

    I bought the origina ipad brand new, and now it’s nothing more than a “f”ing paperweight!! Never again, will an apple product enter my home, and we have 5 kids. Looks like Android or someting better is what we need. Apple’s take on this issue proves it to every future consumer, don’t buy apple if you use your device as long as every normal person would. Which is more than 2 years………….COME ON!!

    • Vince

      I agree with you. I’ve always bought Apple except for one Dell when I had to have a Windows computer for a business project. The company’s moves towards vendor lock-in and forced upgrades has me upset, though. I don’t like the direction OS X is going, and I don’t trust them not to make (very expensive) iOS devices obsolete within a year. I’ll probably continue to buy iPhones (AT&T has enough clout to force at least a two- or three-year life cycle), but for tablets I’ll be moving to Kindle. For laptops, I’m not sure — probably some flavor of Linux.

      On the other hand, having an original iPad stranded on iOS 5 made it much easier to decide to jailbreak. There’s a whole world of useful software out there that Apple won’t let into the App Store. In an odd way, I’m kind of glad they pulled this boneheaded move.

      • Manny Cervantes

        Jailbreak? on our abandoned original iPad? I would sure like to know more. It would be nice to know there’s more apps for it other than through Apple store or iTunes.

        • Vince

          I used the RedSn0w jailbreak. It was very simple and worked like a dream. It will automatically install Cydia so you can start using their app store right away. Cydia does take some getting used to. Just keep in mind that it looks like an iPhone screen. Poke around to figure out how it works, and you’re good to go.

  • kris

    What sucks about this is that to troubleshoot an Ipad, the option outside of rebooting is s reinstall of software. If you have to factory reset or wipe your apps, once you reinstall your backup, you are unable to add apps you’ve already purchased because now they need to run on ios6. Big fucking waste of money.

  • http://Verizon Elaine

    My husband and I each own the 1st generation iPad! We had never owed an Apple product but quickly fell in love with our iPads! Last year when the new iOS 6.0 came out and wouldn’t download to our iPads we started having problems with apps now crashing, apps that don’t load properly and can’t be upgraded, and screens that freeze. We have lost all faith in Apple because they are not supporting these expensive products! Guess we will take our losses and run! No more Apple products for us!

  • Nick Lowe

    I wholeheartedly agree, this policy has me thinking twice about purchasing an ipad 2 since it likely will be obsolete by the time I can afford it. Now the proud owner of the original ipad in late 2013, (purchased used on Amazon) I see what all the fuss is about. However, i’m quite miffed I cannot download a “slimmed down” version of Netflix for the device and i’m considering dropping that service as well. Ha-rumph!

  • kristy

    this is crap utter bull crap. ive had my non apple home computer for well over 6 years and have the same programming on it and still works fab for what i need. Apple figures i have loads of cash to throw away on a new ipad. Im going android im done with apple products period as i can’t afford a new ipad every couple years. Left out in the cold….

  • Sazyboro

    Well, I could really say that it was so surprising news made by the apple company. Thanks for sharing this good content, I was able to know all the great features being introduces by the apple company.

  • darkangelights

    I need ios6 on my iPad 1

  • Stan Anvik

    Article is spot on. I am becoming more and more disillusioned with Apple. I’m sick of spending money to get a product that is “obsolete” within 2.5 years. That’s a sign of a company that couldn’t care less about its customers.

  • JayMankind

    The ruddy gougers at Apple ! I hope they all die of cancer or something !! Wasted money on the iPad and it is now only good as a backlit coaster.

  • Redsunderbeds

    My next tablet will be from Microsoft. Apple has become rotten.

    • bigteach

      You bet redsunderbeds!!!!!

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    Hey there! Do you know if they make any plugins to protect against hackers? I’m kinda paranoid about losing everything I’ve worked hard on. Any tips?

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