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Built-in Obsolescence

There’s been a lot of fuss in the papers recently about Apple becoming the most profitable company ever. There’s so much hype about their products that, if you’ve got an iPhone, you get sweet-talked into upgrading it every year when the next generation product is brought out. After all, what self-respecting tech geek is going to be caught with only an iPhone 4 when the iPhone 6 was launched weeks ago?

Worse than the peer pressure, which is ignorable, is the built-in obsolescence which means that the older devices stop being supported so that you have no choice but to upgrade. Christopher’s iPad is a case in point. He was a dyed-in-the-wool Apple fanboy, and pre-ordered a first generation iPad as soon as it was announced. In fact, his must have been one of the first in the country, as I remember him taking delivery of it on the day that it appeared in the shops. That was nearly five years ago, and I adopted it when he died and have used it literally daily since then.

The hardware is still as good as new. The battery life is fine, the screen’s not scratched or damaged in any way, and the touch screen still works perfectly. But it’s slowly getting less and less useful. The biggest problem is the operating system. It’s fully updated, but the latest version that is compatible with a first generation iPad is iOS 5. I think that the latest phones are on iOS 8, and almost all the apps available in the App Store require at least iOS 6. One by one my apps demand a compulsory upgrade to an iOS I can’t support, and then stop working. I’ve lost the catch-up on-demand tv apps for itv, Channel 4 and Channel 5. So far the BBC iPlayer tv still works, but I’ve lost the iPlayer radio.

It’s not just apps that stop working either. More and more news websites crash my browser. For some reason the problem seems to be largely limited to newspaper sites rather than general web browsing. The Independent regularly crashes when I try to read the news on-line, and just this week the Guardian moved to a new web platform and I now can’t even open the front page without it crashing the browser. The Daily Mail is a little more stable (and I never thought I’d say that!) provided that I go directly to the news pages, avoid the front page and don’t even think about opening a video. I can’t even circumvent the problem by using the newspaper-provided apps rather than the browser, since they all require a later iOS than I’ve got.

So currently, I can read the BBC news, do some general light web browsing, catch up BBC tv on iPlayer, and play solitaire. That’s about it. It’s getting more and more frustrating that things I want to do are just no longer possible on this tablet – I get particularly annoyed at compulsory upgrades that then completely break a previously working app. I suppose I’m going to have to bite the bullet and upgrade to a newer and more powerful iPad, but I massively resent effectively being strong-armed into an upgrade that I don’t really want.

{ 1 } Comments

  1. Hugh Webber | 13 February 2015 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    It is better with Android, but not much. However it is a lot cheaper that way, you are not paying through the nose for a fashion statement and you have a much more open system which allows you to do most of what you want. Only downside (or upside, depending on your point of view) is fewer apps.