Today, sources revealed that iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s will not be compatible with iOS 11, to be released in September 2017. This brings older iPhones to the end-of-life portion of the technology cycle. Apple will offer orphaned iPhone 5/5s owners the option of installing Android on their old phones.
Over the last two years, Apple have been guiding their hoards or devoted followers into uncharted territory, with the early adoption of USB-C, phasing out the beloved MagSafe magnetic power connector, moving more and more accessories into wireless and battery-powered options rechargeable using the Lightning connector, and forcing customers into buying adapters to use ports removed from MacBooks, such as HDMI, USB-A, and even SD card slot: the favourite port of every professional photographer on the planet.
While Apple caused a stir by removing the headphone port from the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, the majority of users were more enraged (and confused) by Apple's sudden removal of the MagSafe power connector, switching to USB-C for power, data, and port-replacement. There were even rumours that Apple would drop the Lightning port from the next iPhone, and go all-in on USB-C.
Then came the Series 2 accessories, including the rechargeable Magic Mouse 2, Keyboard, and Trackpad, with their built-in rechargeable batteries, which recharge via a Lightning port, packaged with a USB-A to Lightning cable, the same as the iPhone 7. This meant that customers who purchased a new 2016 MacBook laptop and new Magic Mouse 2 had no way to recharge it, unless they used their iPhone power brick.
iPhone 5 and 5s
Released in 2012 and 2013, the iPhone 5 and 5s are now over 4 years old, and nearing the end of their useful life. Already superseded by the iPhone 6, 6s, 7, and (Product)REDtm 7, it's no great surprise that die-hard fans of the smaller iPhone 5/5s are getting nervous about their options. Even the release of the iPhone SE (Special Edition), which has the same size and form factor as the 5, with newer internals, is not really seen as an upgrade path for the die-hard lovers of the original iPhone 5. If it's not broken, why upgrade?
Add to that, the increasing cost of carrier plans for newer iPhones, and you hit another hurdle. The iPhone 5 was available on a $50 or $60 monthly plan, while the iPhone 6 is available on a $70 plan at launch, and the iPhone 7 shot up to an average of $90 a month on Australian carriers. Customers facing the spectre of buying a new handset and then having to pay nearly double per month for their calls and data were enough for many non-power-users to stick with their ageing phones.
In late March 2017, Apple released iOS10.3, the latest update to software for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod. The next software upgrade will be iOS11.
iOS11 is due to be released in September 2017, and bring with it a host of new features and apps. The September timeframe is also expected to the the launch of the iPhone 7s, 7s Plus, and iPhone 8. Some pundits expect the iPhone 8 may be twinned with a super-phone to be known as the iPhone X, (X is the Roman numeral for the number ten), in line with 2017 being the tenth anniversary of the release of the original iPhone.
iOS11 kills the iPhone 5 and 5s
iOS11 will be a big software release, and it will demand cutting edge processors and lots of RAM. This is the reason why the iPhone 5 and 5s are not expected to make the transition to installing the new iOS11 software: they simply don't have the brainpower to run the very demanding new software.
The unloved iPhone 5c also gets the axe.
Apple is well-known for killing off older hardware by blocking their upgrade path when new number-editions of software is released. The iPhone 4, the Apple TV1, the iPad 1, iPad 2, the short-lived iPad mini 3, and the iPad Air 1, all died a sad death with the release of new whole-number versions of iOS.
Apple CEO Tim Cook is said to have a certain affection for the iPhone 5, the first phone to sport the Lightning connector, and introduce a new wave of Lightning-standardised accessories that forced/pushed/encouraged the Apple fanbase to upgrade everything in their ecosystem.
It is for this reason that Apple is not entirely willing to let go of the four year old iPhone 5.
Instead, Apple made the surprising move of giving their customers a choice of upgrading to the newer iPhone 7, the forthcoming 7s, or 8 (to be released in September), or installing Android on their iPhone 5 to keep it alive.
Android on orphaned iPhone 5 and 5s.
In a surprise move, Apple announced today that it will allow orphaned iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s customers to install Google's Android operating system on their phones starting in August 2017, before the release of the new iOS11 operating system in September.
iOS 11 will not be compatible with older phones, as iOS11 will require robust internals and modern chipsets and RAM to provide the optimum customer experience that Apple is known for.
Apple competitor Samsung has always embraced Google's Android software, and Samsung has also offered phones in Asian markets with other operating systems such as Tizen and Azean. Nokia offered phones with Symbian, before switching to Windows Phone, and now switching back to Android. Furthermore, Samsung has broadened its portfolio by offering the Galaxy Pro S tablet with a choice of Android or Windows 10.
So, is it really all that surprising that Apple intends to offer Android on older iPhones? It certainly raises a few eyebrows, botox-permitting.
Apple already offers iTunes on Windows and Android, and many toolkits are available for developers to convert their iOS apps to Android apps.
Apple also faces a battle with Apple TV, which has been long-overdue for a refresh, and has many once-happy customers in limbo waiting to buy a breakthrough Apple TV device.
Apple loves to keep its software and hardware tied together, and doesn't let other vendors integrate Apple products in to third-party hardware. However, Android can be found powering Smart TVs from a variety of manufacturers.
if Apple was to bump the Apple TV across to being an Android-powered device, available as a set top box and available as a built-in software kit for TV manufacturers, the only piece missing would be the smart remote needed to operate it. The older iPhone 5 hardware would be a perfect fit for a touch-enabled remote. So bumping the iPhone 5 and 5s to Android, and partnering it with an Android-powered TV with access to Apple's enormous iTunes media library, suddenly makes sense.
Get ready for the launch of iOS11 in September 2017, along with the iPhone 7s, 7s Plus, 8 and iPhone X anniversary edition. Watch your Android-powered Apple TV and use your Android-powered old iPhone 5 as the remote.
Until next time,
XYZ Media Group
Published: 1 April 2017