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iPad 3: The Light is Fading…

My wife once told me we shouldn’t have a television in our bedroom because Oprah said so.

That’s not the real reason. The real reason is because Susan can’t sleep with the television on, and it doesn’t bother me at all. If it were up to me, I’d start a movie every night before bed and fall asleep during the murky middle. If it was a good movie, I’d watch the end the next night. If it wasn’t, I’d start another one.

But Oprah didn’t say anything about iPads, so I put one on my nightstand. Except for road trips, that’s where it lives 100% of the time. Sometimes I watch movies on it, sometimes I check email and social media sites from it, but most of all, I just read the news on it. Every night as I’m falling asleep, I turn on the iPad and click through each one of my installed news apps: CNN, Fox News, TMZ, the local news, and lastly, the AP News. The AP News one is my favorite because it has three or four categories I enjoy (top news, entertainment, technology, and oddities).

Last night as I was in bed scrolling through news headlines, a notification popped up my AP News app. A small window informed me that the application would require an update after Apple’s newest operating system (iOS 11) was released. I wasn’t sure when that was, so I looked it up. It’s coming next week, and it won’t run on my iPad.

I bought my third-generation iPad (let’s call it the iPad 3) the week they were first released in 2012. It has a quad-core processor, 64GB of storage, and cost $699. Next month’s iOS 11 will render it unusable.

Not overnight, of course. But over the next a few months, a growing number of apps will begin to require the newer OS, and older hardware is shown the door sooner rather than later.

If your plan is to stick your head in the sand and ignore the update, that won’t work. It’s easy to forget that very few apps store all of their data on your device. My AP News app, for example, connects to a server somewhere to pull down its headlines. While the developer cannot remove the app from my iPad, what they can do it deny connections from older versions, which is what they will eventually do. Once the old version of the app no longer receives updates it’s essentially dead, and if the new version requires an iOS update that my iPad won’t run, then it’s game over. Before long it won’t just be the AP News app. It’ll be all of them.

Imagine if the people who built cars also controlled gasoline, and every few years they changed their gasoline so that it no longer ran your car. Nobody’s forcing you to upgrade to a new car, but eventually the gas in your tank would run out and then it would become quite worthless. If you still want to drive, you’ll have to buy a new car that works with the new gasoline. Maybe you’ll even park it next to the old car, which still looks great, but no longer runs.

The reason I know how this story ends is because in another room, mounted to the wall above our treadmill, is my old iPad 1. I paid $500 for that one back in 2010. Its multiple pages of icons serve as a sort of digital graveyard — a catalog of things that used to work. There are still icons for Netflix and Spotify and all my old news applications on it, but none of them work anymore. When you try to open one, a little wheel appears and spins and spins until the app times out and informs my that today’s gasoline won’t work on my antiquated seven-year-old iPad.

I really hate forced obsolescence.

It frustrates me that a magical screen with a quadcore processor requires any sort of update at all to receive news stories (text) from a remote server. This is, without a doubt, the absolutely lowest task any internet-enabled device could possibly perform. A $35 Raspberry Pi machine possesses 1,000x the amount of processing required to do this. Can you believe my 35-year-old Commodore 64, with its 1MHz processor and 64k of RAM, can (thanks to a bit of modern hardware magic) connect to the internet and pull down news updates? My Commodore 64 was built almost fifteen years before the first time I even heard of the internet! The general idea that an iPad 3 is outdated or requires any sort of update to perform the same task is preposterous. It could run forever and never need an update to keep doing what it’s doing.

Which of course is the point; that business model doesn’t sell new iPads.

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5 comments to iPad 3: The Light is Fading…

  • Aunt Linda

    Uncle Buddy could sleep with that tv on all night. Aunt Linda can sleep in silence and total darkness. I think I would even see the IPad light…but not after next week, eh?
    Your Aunt Linda Loves You!

  • Gray Defender

    Well said, indeed. Although I have never used my C64 for a news feed, it’s nice to know I can if I want to. Nobody should have to purchase the new thingy just because it’s new and renders the old one obsolete. I still have the Ipad 2, and really it’s not too far off from the latest IPADs, a little slower, but it is still usable for some things. Great points.

  • Paul in AZ

    And this is why vinyl never died. They TRIED to force its obsolescence, but they failed.

    And now it’s BACK (and BOY, IS IT PISSED!)

    As for the gasoline analogy – give them 150 years, and all cars will be electric. They will need new operating systems and your 8 year old Toyota will not be able to use the new OS, rendering it quite obsolete.

    Except in the Australian Outback, where Max Rocketansky will drop a blown interceptor motor into it and hunt down murderous rape gangs.

    All kidding aside, I hate this type of crap, too.

  • J Feinberg

    150 years before all cars are electric? How about 10 or 20! Indeed, the suckers that bought the Model S may be sorely disappointed if they find their cars won’t run Tesla OS 2023 and they refuse to charge.

  • Emory Lehman

    One of the many reasons why I despise Apple products. They “force” you to upgrade to new hardware for no reason. It’s all about the bottom line, and how many sheeple will continue to spend money on it. This is kind of the same business model TI had with the TI99/4A. Everything for it had to go thru TI. Until the crash of the 80s did people really start to figure out how to bypass and make software and hardware for that system. Now if someone could “hack” a better OS for the dead and/or ding Apple products. Just think of running some sort of Linux, Android, or any other open source OS on it. But that would cut into Apples bottom line, and then all the fanboys/girls wouldn’t “want” to have the “latest and greatest.”

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