Generally speaking, you wouldn’t imagine that using a phone three of four years old would be that much of a problem, but when the time comes to install some apps, you might run into a couple of roadblocks. This can be true with apps that used to work on your phone, but have been updated to support a newer OS that you don’t have. It can be frustrating, to say the least.
Some developers get around this issue by forking their software, making one version “final” and then moving on with the updated version. Unfortunately though, this isn’t that common, especially by companies that are rather ignorant of how mobile development should be done.
With a newly discovered feature in iOS, it seems that Apple is keen on having its users not have to deal with these hassles again. It’s called ‘Last Compatible Version’, and it’s truly simply in design: When downloading a now-unsupported app, you’ll be told that the most up-to-date version isn’t supported by your iOS, but you’ll given an option to download the last version of the app released that does support it.
If there’s any limitation to speak of here, it’s going to be when a protocol an outdated app uses changes, in effect making the app useless. In this particular case, developers would have the option to push out a new version specifically designed for older iOS releases, but chances are that they might just pull a page from Apple’s book and look to the future. Given the amount of time it could take to backtrack and update older apps, it’s easy to understand why many may prefer to take that route.
In the end, though, this is a fantastic feature, and one that could save people a lot of headaches. Google, are you ready to follow suit here?