Apple iOS 10.3.2 is a Forward Looking Update

Electronic devices like computers and smartphones were designed to have their operating systems updated. A tenet of software engineering says that once the software is released, it is obsolete, which then requires the use of updates. System updates are meant to include patches and improvements. Whether you are using Android, Windows, Apple Mac OS X or iOS, the updates are supposed to help the device function better.

However, at some point in time, there is a limit to backward compatibility. For Android users, it is very common that a device cannot be upgraded to the next major update. Although high-end models can be updated from a major release to another (like an update from Android Marshmallow to Nougat), not all Android phones are updated because not all of these support the next major update.

In the same token, the upcoming iOS 10.3.2 update is a prime example. Apple will no longer update iPhone 5, and iPhone 5C uses because of hardware issues. According to Apple, the 10.3.2 was written purely for 64-bit architecture, and this leaves behind the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5C because their processor is only 32-bit. This is a planned move which at some point would have happened anyway.

The problem is that there are more than 43.7 million users of iPhone 5 and iPhone 5C devices. This is something that as far as computer engineers are concerned was supposed to happen. At some point, a software update will be implemented which is not fully backward compatible with the 5-year old devices. If you include those users who still have iPhone 4 and older, you would have an even larger population left behind.

There are an estimated 715 million iPhones being used in the world as of December 2016. Of these, about 3.77% are iPhone 5 and another 2.34% use iPhone 5C. Apple does not divulge any information about their user base.

Most people consider this as a technological problem, while others see it as a marketing opportunity. In fact, it is neither. It is a technological inevitability. This happens with computers and other devices. With Ubuntu Linux, new major releases occur every six months. However, every two years there are major releases which have a longer support lifetimes. Called LTS or “long term support” these Ubuntu Linux versions have updates far longer than regular releases. Typically, a regular release version is supported for nine months, whereas LTS are supported for five years. While a version is supported, regular updates are always kept ready for downloading. This keeps the system safe from the latest security threats.

Operating system updates are usually limited by the hardware the system runs on. In the case of the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5C, these run on 32-bit architecture. The processor is 32-bit, and the buses are also only 32-bit. An obvious advantage of 64-bit architecture is that there is a wider data and instruction bus to run on. This translates to speed improvements over older 32-bit hardware. The problem occurs when you have only one operating system for both architectures. When you update for a specific 64-bit issue, the code could only be run on 64-bit machines. Running 64-bit code on 32-bit machines is undefined. Anything can happen. This is avoided from ever happening by not putting the code in the machine in the first place.

Lack of updates does not necessarily mean that the device is no longer usable. What it only means is that the device will not have any more update for security. This is totally different from the end of life or even of an end of support. The end of life or support means that the device will no longer be fixed when you bring it to the manufacturer for repairs. You would have to go to your local cell phone repair shop.

If you are the owner of an iPhone 5 and iPhone 5C, or an even earlier iPhone or iPod Touch, there is no assurance that Apple still has the parts to repair your device. They would have to scrounge for parts since it has been several years since Apple stopped producing these particular models.

The good news is that most probably, your neighborhood cell phone repair shop may have the parts for your 5-year-old iPhone or iPod, or maybe even older devices.

If you have a device like the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5C with operating systems which are no longer supported, there is no need to panic. There is, however, need to be more careful against threats like identity theft, or malware. More recently, there have been quite some questions about the security of the Apple iPhone. So far, hacking has been via the iCloud, and not directly to the phone. If you are concerned that your trusty 5-year old iPhone may be a security risk, you should consider buying a new model.

The latest iOS 10.3.2 updates include fixes for third-party virtual private network (VPN) apps. Additional SiriKat car commands are also included, at the same time, some bugs in the OS were solved.

When an operating system version is no longer updated, this usually impacts on the owner of the device. There is a fear that the device can no longer be used. Far from it, the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5C will continue to be useful and used by their owners for years to come.

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