Update: Not happy with iOS 4 and want to know how to downgrade to iPhone OS 3.1.3? There’s an app guide for that.
Update 2: Or if you’d rather just add support for multitasking and fast app switching, there’s a guide for that too.
As you may have heard, Apple iOS 4 is now available for download. You can install the update on the iPhone 3GS, 3G, and second and third generation iPod touch models. But if you want all of the features Apple promised, you’re going to need an iPhone 3G or a 32GB or 64GB iPod touch. Because older iPhones and iPod touches get a stripped down version of iOS 4.
I happen to have a 3rd generation current generation 8GB iPod touch, which is one of the newest models available. So I kind of figured I was good to go until I downloaded the update this morning. But it turns out that the 8GB model actually is basically still a 2nd generation device. And that means that I’ve got the limited edition version of iOS 4.
Now, that means I do get some of the new features, including the ability to sort Home Screen icons into folders. And that’s a big deal. I can also use the new unified inbox feature, which lets you see the latest messages from multiple email accounts in one place. It combines my Gmail and Yahoo inboxes beautifully. Search suggestions also show up in Mobile Safari. But there are a number of new features that aren’t available to folks like me with older hardware.
Here are a few things that I don’t have access to after upgrading my iPod touch to iOS 4.0:
- Home Screen wallpapers
- Screen orientation locking
I get why there’s no multitasking. Apple has decided that older devices don’t have fast enough processors to handle task-switching for non Apple programs. But I have no idea why I can’t change the wallpaper on my Home Screen.
And since I can’t run apps in the background, double-tapping the Home button doesn’t bring up an app drawer — which means I also don’t get access to the screen orientation lock button that’s tucked away in the app drawer on supported hardware. There’s really no reason Apple should be leaving older iDevice users out in the cold here. It’s not like we don’t use our devices to read in bed too.
Update: It turns out iBooks does work on older iPod touch and iPhone models. It just wasn’t immediately available for download, but it’s in the App Store now.
I also have no idea why I can’t install the iBooks app, which iTunes says is available for the iPad and iPhone… but not the iPod touch. I currently have eBook apps from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Stanza installed on my iPod touch. If these third party developers can come up with apps that run smoothly on my iPod touch, it seems kind of strange that Apple has decided not to make iBooks available.
I’ll probably hold off on upgrading my iPod touch until Apple announces a new model, because I suspect that will happen sometime in the next month or two and it seems silly to buy a 32GB iPod touch today when a new version that will ship with iOS 4 is probably just around the corner. But I’m a bit disappointed to discover that a device I bought just a few months ago has already been made partially obsolete by Apple’s most recent software update.
Update the second: Gizmodo reports that Steve Jobs has addressed the question of why iPhone 3G and older iPod touch users can’t change their home screen backgrounds. Apparently icon animations don’t work very well with non-standard backgrounds. Go figure. Honestly, I’m not really itching for custom home screen backgrounds, since the app icons take up most of the space anyway. But I still wouldn’t mind a screen rotation lock button.