It’s time to ensure that any older Apple devices still in use by you or your company are running the latest version of the operating system. That’s because Apple wants users to update to the latest version of the device’s OS as the company works to expand its product ecosystem.
Update the best way you can
To convince users to upgrade, Apple plans to disable access to the services for devices running older versions of macOS 10.13, watchOS 4, iOS/iPad OS 11, and tvOS 11. claims the leaker.
It’s not a death sentence. Not only will those devices still be able to access iCloud, but they just need to update the device to the latest version of their available OS. For example, an iOS 11 iPhone must be on version 11.4.1 to use these services. Apple will notify affected users before implementing the change.
Those devices that haven’t been updated will no longer have access to the App Store, Maps, Siri, and other Apple services.
For most users, the impact of the change will be limited. Apple’s own data shows that 87% of all iPads in use worldwide and 92% of iPhones in active use are already running operating systems released in the last two years (iOS 15 or 16). As for iPhones shipped in the last four years, 96% are already running the most current version of the system.
Those running older iterations of operating systems should not do this, as they may be exposed to security vulnerabilities that are typically provided by these updates. A very small number of users with older iPhones will be affected if they’re running older versions of the OS, but those devices will be at least nine years old.
Businesses that still operate with fleets of older devices will need to upgrade those devices or replace them if they can’t be purchased according to specifications. Businesses that rely on such legacy devices are already at risk. After all, threat actors have far more vulnerabilities to exploit on older devices running older versions of Apple’s operating systems. Using older devices is a security risk.
While security is clearly the driving force behind Apple’s change, it’s also possible that the company is preparing to make major changes to its online services that may not be supported by older devices or older operating systems.
Apple is planning a more fundamental change.
It seems likely, at least when it comes to mobile devices, that the company may want to limit mobile support to certain processor families. The first Apple-designed, TSMC-made iPhone chips began appearing in 2014 with the iPhone 6, which will continue to run Apple services until it’s updated to the latest OS.
In related news, iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 are expected to drop support for the iPhone 8, iPhone X, first-generation iPad Pro, and fifth-generation iPad when it ships later this year. This assumes Apple has set its active support window for iPhones at around five years, meaning fleets must upgrade to an iPhone XR or later to access any new features introduced with iOS 17 :
This also suggests that part of the rationale behind these changes is to introduce service features that require a more modern processor. If that’s the case, I can’t help but speculate that it might have something to do with the iPhone’s neural engine dedicated to AI and machine learning tasks.
The first Neural Engine appeared on the iPhone X’s A11 processor, a device that was expected not to support iOS 17. It is interesting to note that the engine had two cores that could perform up to 600 billion operations per second. This saw a major upgrade to the A12, which had eight cores and could perform up to 5 trillion operations per second, which would have huge implications for creators. The neural engine in current iPhones performs 17 trillion operations per second, and we have no real idea of what the next chip will deliver.
Could Apple’s decision to limit the number of supported devices and operating systems that can access its services reflect a desire to finally free up all that computing power?
Maybe, maybe not.
But the bottom line for any enterprise with a fleet of older devices should be that support for them is rapidly coming to an end and some hardware investment may be required.
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