3-year old iPod 5 no longer receiving software updates from Apple

About a month ago, I jotted down an idea for an article simply saying: “iPod touch, all-time favorite Apple product”. This was true until last week when Apple stopped providing software updates for a three-year-old product.

The iPod touch has been the Apple product that I’ve been the happiest with. Through the years I’ve owned a wide range of Apple products, but it’s been the later generations of the iPod touch that have been my absolute favorites. They’ve been underestimated as a cheap entry-point to the iOS app landscape for Android owners and people with technolust.

I much prefer using the iPod touch on the couch than the iPad, a laptop, or even my phone (currently a Nexus 5X with Android “N.”) I’ve owned three iPod touches over the last five years. It’s the iPhone minus the 3G antenna and the expensive price tag, so you can afford to replace it more often. Not that Apple has revised the iPod touch models all that often to begin with.

I’ve skipped the current generation iPod touch (6th.) The 5th generation iPod touch was introduced about three years ago, and I didn’t see any reason to update to the 6th generation.

Then along came iOS 10 and my impressions changed completely.

I’ve got the A1421 revision of the 5th generation iPod touch. It’s just a little over old, and Apple will already stop providing software updates for it. There was even a third-revision called A1509 that’s just 25 months old! Three years of software updates aren’t good enough! Two years is definitely not good enough!

It’s not like I can install any other operating system on the device to keep it current. As an iOS user, I’m living at the mercy of Apple and their whims and priorities at any given time.

The 5th generation model is just over two years old, and Apple will already stop providing software updates for it. It’s unusual for any Apple product to be cut off from future updates after such a short time. Apple has covered their backs on this issue, however. Quoting from the iPod Software License Agreement (PDF, of course):

With respect to updates to the iPod Software and system restore software that Apple may make available for download (‘iPod Software Updates,’) you acknowledge that some iPod Software Updates, or portions thereof, may be specific to particular models or generations of the iPod and may not be available for all iPod models.

Apple published a list of devices that were iOS 10 compatible that initially included the 5th generation iPod touch, the iPhone 4s, and other devices based on the Apple A5 processor. All of these were removed after a few days.

Apple’s dropped every product model with the A5 and A5X processor chip. The 5th generation iPod touch was one of the last products that Apple released that featured this processor. All of Apple’s newer processors are 64-bit capable, which may help explain why Apple is dropping all their products with 32-bit only processors.

Technically, I can understand their desire to drop 32-bit so they can move on to only maintain one processor architecture. This is simpler to maintain and makes it cheaper to develop. Yet, as an owner of one of the discontinued devices, I can’t help but feeling like I’ve been left out in the cold in the name of progress.

Somehow I’m okay with my 3rd generation iPad from 2012 also not getting iOS 10. It’s four years old, but I haven’t been using it all that much. I’m not happy about it, but it took losing updates to the iPod touch to get me annoyed.

I always believed Apple was better at planning than other companies, but in this instance, it feels like they didn’t plan ahead and wanted to depart from their technological heritage a bit faster than consumers would expect them to.

I’d never bought this iPod touch had I known it would only receive updates for another three years. That right there’s the crux of this whole issue: consumers have no say nor any way to tell how long their costly purchases will last.