Apple won't offer iOS update for recently sold iPod touch model

If you’ve got an iPod touch and are hoping to upgrade to iOS 7, the all-new version of Apple’s handheld operating system, you may be out of luck, even if you purchased the device earlier this year.

Apple isn’t offering a version of the new software for the fourth-generation version of the iPod touch, which Apple sold until May. Instead, the only version of Apple’s iPod touch that can run iOS 7 is the latest model, the fifth generation version, which Apple only began selling last fall.

That version was the first iPod touch to sport a four-inch screen like that on the iPhone 5.

Apple is releasing iOS 7 on Wednesday. Redesigned under the supervision of Apple design guru Jony Ive, the new software sports a flatter, cleaner look and lots of new features.

Apple continued to sell a $200, 16-gigabyte version of the fourth-generation iPod touch after it launched the new, larger screened model. At the end of May, it finally phased out the fourth-generation iPod touch, replacing it with a $230 fifth-generation model.

 The inability for owners of the fourth-generation iPod touch to upgrade to iOS 7 is similar to the move Apple made last year, when it released iOS 6. Apple declined to make a version of that upgrade for the original iPad, a device that was less than three years old.

In addition to not getting the new look, the older iPod touch will also miss out on some new features that Apple is building into iOS 7, including a quick settings area that allows users to easily turn on or off their WiFi and Bluetooth antennas.

More seriously, the iPod touch users will miss out on security updates. When Apple discontinues supporting an older device or software, it no longer makes available to them security updates, even when new vulnerabilities are identified.

The fourth-generation iPod touch isn’t the only Apple gadget that won’t be able to upgrade from iOS 6 to iOS 7. The iPhone 3GS, which Apple first released in 2009, also didn’t make the cut.

Otherwise, all devices that can run iOS 6 will be able to upgrade to the new version of the operating system on Wednesday. That includes the iPad mini, all big-screened iPads from the iPad 2 on and all iPhones from the iPhone 4 on.

However, as is typical with iOS upgrades, older devices won’t get all of the new features in iOS 7. For example the new burst and slow-motion camera modes will only be available on the new iPhone 5s. And the panoramic shooting mode isn’t available on the iPhone 4 or on any of the iPads.

Air Drop, a cool new feature that allows users to wirelessly share photos and other files with other iOS devices users in the same room, isn’t available on the iPhone 4 or 4S or on any iPad other than the iPad mini and the fourth-generation of the full-sized model, which was released last fall. And Siri still isn’t available for the iPhone 4 or the iPad 2.

Photo, of Apple’s fourth-generation iPod touch, by Mercury News Staff Photographer Maria J. Avila Lopez.

Troy Wolverton Troy Wolverton (256 Posts)

Troy writes the Tech Files column as the Personal Technology Columnist at the San Jose Mercury News. He also covers the digital media, mobile and video game industries and writes occasionally about Apple, chips, social networking and other aspects of technology. Previously, Troy covered Apple and the consumer electronics industry. Prior to joining the Mercury News, Troy reported on technology, business and financial issues for TheStreet.com and CNET News.com.