As developers, we’ve been lamenting the continued existence of the inferior A5 system-on-a-chip for the past couple of years. Both iOS 8 and iOS 9 continued to support iPhone 4S, iPad 2, and iPad Mini 1 — devices that struggled to run the OS itself. I had hoped that iOS 9 would finally drop support for these less powerful devices, but it didn’t. Today, we can finally say goodbye to the A5. Well, almost.
iOS 10 has dropped support for these older A5-powered devices — a reason for celebration. However, most developers support at least the two most recent versions of iOS, per Apple’s recommendations. This means we’ll been writing modern apps on modern OSes for 6-year-old or 7-year-old devices, depending on when you drop support for iOS 9. But the good news is, once you are ready to drop iOS 9 support in your app, you can say goodbye to the A5 forever. Oh, and you can also say goodbye to 3.5-inch screen sizes. Rejoice.
According to Apple’s press release, here are the oldest devices that will run iOS 10:
This leaves us with a new baseline of the 32-bit A6 SoC. This is better for the moment, but the A6 already 4 years old. If iOS 11 continues to support the A6, then we’ll likely return to the situation where the software has substantially out-paced the hardware. Again, we’ll have sluggish devices that probably shouldn’t be running the latest OS in the first place. Again, we’ll be supporting 6-year-old hardware. But, maybe it won’t be so bad.
Of course, when the day comes to drop the A6 we can say goodbye to 32-bit CPUs on iOS, and that will be great.
Note: I realize that perhaps 6 years isn’t that old for other platforms, but iOS moves so fast.