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The iOS App Store has been silently updated on Apple’s end to allow users running older versions of iOS  to install legacy versions of apps that are no longer supported by their software. In the screenshot above, for example, an iPhone 5 running iOS 6.0.2 is prompted to install the “last compatible version” of Weatherbug, which normally requires iOS 6.1. Choosing to download the last compatible version grabs the most recent version of the app that supported 6.0.2 and installs it on the device.

This is especially good news for users on old hardware, such as the iPhone 3G which only supports iOS 4.2.1, or original iPhone which doesn’t support anything beyond version 3.1.3. Users of those apps will now be able to run apps that they ordinarily would have been unable to install due to their outdated OS. Also benefiting from this change are iPhone 3GS owners who cannot upgrade to iOS 7, or users of newer devices who choose not to update to Apple’s latest OS.

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20 Responses to “iOS App Store now allows legacy app downloads to support older hardware and software”

  1. Can’t believe,
    It took them just 5 years to make it))))

  2. Dan Uff says:

    Good for the end user, a nightmare for the developer. Suppose we don’t want to support an older version of an app?

    • Dave Devine says:

      Ummmm, don’t do it? Not being a developer I don’t know if it is MANDATORY that you support older hardware. And consumers can then move to apps that are receiving continued support if that matters to them.

    • standardpull says:

      Your old version of your app is already out there. When you released the app you knew that there would be multiple versions on devices, as an iOS app isn’t a centralized web service.

  3. Dave Devine says:

    The life of my iPhone 4 has just been extended :-)

  4. I still have an original iPhone running 3.1.3, so this looked promising until I tried installing an app.
    http://i.imgur.com/lR5oVxP.jpg

  5. I tried this with iPhone OS 3.1.3 on the first generation iPod touch.

    It doesn’t work. And thats really a shame, since there are almost no Apps left in the store, that are compatible to that version, while perfectly good older versions probably linger somewhere in Apples storage facilities. May try again in a few weeks.

  6. This worked today with my son’s 3G and iOS4.2. Unfortunately the Instagram version he downloaded is not supported by Instagram anymore and he cannot register :-(

  7. Jim Phong says:

    But developers can’t submit apps for outdated hardware and outdated iOS version on the App Store anymore.
    So only old versions that Apple itself made unavailable before and old apps would be available now for old devices.

  8. Wow, I am speechless…yes this should have been there from day one, but this is great. Finally my 1st gen iPad that is stuck on iOS 5 can at least download older versions of apps now.

  9. Yep, it works at least from 4.2.1 and beyond – tested on an iPad 1st Gen with iOS 4.3.3, with iOS 3.1.3 on my iPhone 2G unfortunately it doesn’t work (I’ve tried with apps that for sure where available on iOS 3.1.3)

  10. timigoe says:

    Odd, I tried this on 2 devices – a 2nd gen ipod touch… worked fine, but an iphone 3G failed to offer the option. Both are iOS 4.2.1.

  11. aytimothy says:

    I know, took them long enough, but not all apps have backwards compatibility,
    For example: TinyTower/Fruit Ninja does not support iOS 3, even though I already had it installed, but most of the free apps do.

  12. Caleb Mermer says:

    This works! My friend gave me an old iPhone 3G, And it runs iOS 4.2.1, Thanks for the info! I can get apps on this old phone!

  13. David Rahman says:

    I do not get this option when I try. Does anyone have any link to an official notice by Apple that this is really true?

  14. I don’t understand this at all. I think it’s great, but how are people trying it based on the information in this article? Obviously they are, as the comments attest, but HOW? The page doesn’t tell you what apps to try it on. I have tried everything imaginable to get apps on my 3G 4.2.1 and I get flat NADA.

    Where do you find a list of apps that this works on? Because I have looked and looked and looked and looked and…

  15. Not true, it doesn’t work on my iPhone 3GS running 3.1.3. Complete CRAP.

  16. zdig1 says:

    working only for us store
    for all other store still dont work
    still need cydia and other to install old apps