The original iPad will not support iOS 6.
That revelation, more than any other (hardly) controversial takeaway from last week’s WWDC, has been angrily blowing up message boards across the Internet.
And frankly, I don’t get it.
I was in on the ground floor and got my original iPad on launch day in 2010. I lined up for the iPad 2 when it first came out and completed the trifecta earlier this year. Each time, I accepted what I was in for. See, when I purchase a pricey piece of hardware, I do my best to maximize my ROI. Everyone does. Unfortunately, though, nothing is totally future-proof (particularly in the consumer electronics world), and a large swath of first-generation iPad users is having trouble coming to terms with that fact.
Look, I get it. The upcoming version of iOS is an exciting new iteration of Apple’s world-beating mobile platform, and most folks are eagerly awaiting its release. There’s lots of new stuff on board, and the whole thing promises to make your iDevice even better than it already is. But that’s just it: Your iDevice — in this case, your iPad — is already an excellent device. As I explained to one concerned commenter, Apple is not making the original iPad “obsolete.” It will, in fact, continue to do absolutely everything it already does, and do it well.
But still, somehow, some people feel slighted. One AppAdvice reader summed up the general dissension nicely:
Abandoning iPad 1 owners so soon is a disgrace. Those early adopters that made the device such a success are just being cut adrift. There is no sense in it. The iPad 1 is still a fast and capable machine. I’m furious with Apple over this. It’s a purely cynical move to force people to buy a newer model. I won’t be doing that. I already have a good Android tablet and will be looking to replace that instead.
Except for the wild, misguided irony of the last laughable sentence, the above is a disconcertingly common view. First of all, “early adopters” — that is, everyone who bought the original iPad in its first few months of availability — are probably, as a group, okay with Apple going this route. After all, most such folks understand what it means to buy the first version of a new kind of product. There’s a lot of uncertainty, so if said product actually turns out to be any good, all further enhancements are just icing on the cake.
Users who waited for Apple’s tablet to take hold before jumping in, on the other hand, purchased their iPads either late in the model’s development cycle or for a discount after the iPad 2 came out. As far as I’m concerned, in the case of the latter, these individuals traded away their right to complain when they pocketed that extra cash. In either case, they knew exactly what they were doing. In any case, the original iPad already got a major, feature-rich bump to iOS 5 just last year. That’s more than most (read “any”) other tablet-makers have offered.
Buyer’s remorse a couple of years after the fact is neither reasonable nor responsible.
And consider this: When iOS 6 finally launches, the first-gen iPad will be over two-and-a-half years old. Heck, it’ll have been out of production for some 18 months! No manufacturer I’ve ever heard of has actively supported discontinued products for anywhere near that amount of time. Apple should be applauded, not derided.
Nor should Apple be blamed for being a for-profit organization. Of course Apple wants its users to upgrade to the newest tech — that’s how the company makes money! That said, Apple does a tremendous job of maximizing existing legacy hardware with new software upgrades when and where it makes sense. However, there’s no reason to dedicate a huge amount of R&D into optimizing code for the oldest products in your lineup, particularly if those products don’t have most of the components needed to make the experience smooth and responsive. After a certain point, it’s just not worth it. Technology goes forward, and it’s a one-way
Of course, even if you still believe Apple should support your purchases at a loss ad infinitum, the reality is that — as good as iOS 6 looks to be — you’re just not missing that much. When you subtract the announced features that physically can’t be run on your iPad for hardware reasons (Maps Flyover, Siri, FaceTime over 3G), you’ve already taken out the update’s biggest headliners. What remains is less significant and probably doesn’t matter to most first-genners: new color palettes, altered app skins, shared Photo Stream capability, offline Reading Lists, Mail VIP groups, iCloud tabs, the new Passbook app, and other small tweaks here and there. Indeed, the biggest sore spot is likely to be Facebook integration and turn-by-turn directions (albeit dash-mounted navigation isn’t exactly suited to the iPad to begin with). When you go down the feature set item by item, all the whining about the original iPad being left behind pretty much drowns itself out.
At least, it should.
And, with folks willing to be honest with themselves (and who aren’t of the selfish mind that if they don’t get the upgrade, nobody should), it absolutely does.
The (completely foreseen) fact that Apple isn’t bringing iOS 6 over to the first iPad’s admittedly limited hardware shouldn’t sour anyone on Apple products or cast doubt upon the company’s loyalty and dedication to its customers. If you think you’re better off with Google or Microsoft and Android or Windows 8, you haven’t been paying attention. But feel free to switch.
Apple will be right here waiting to pick you up when you come crawling back.