The iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S were all present, as was the iPad 2 and the new iPad. The iPod Touch range was hardest hit, as only the most recent 4th generation player will support the new operating system.
Overall though, Apple has done a great job with keeping its older devices up to date, after all, the iPhone 3GS was released in 2009. Comparing this with an Android phone released in the same year shows just what an achievement this is, as the HTC Hero officially ended at Android version 2.1, which has since been superseded three times.
The picture is not entirely rosy though, and iOS 6 does have some restrictions, which Apple has detailed in the small print on its iOS 6 webpage.
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first: Siri is only for the iPhone 4S and – newly announced for iOS 6 – the new iPad, so any Siri features are only relevant to those two devices.
Staying on the subject of Siri for a moment, Apple spoke at length about the assistant software’s new features during the event, such as providing sports scores and booking restaurants. Everything demonstrated was US-specific, and a disclaimer that “features may vary by area” has been added to Apple’s Siri page, so don’t get your hopes up too much for all these features to reach the UK. Apple did say English Premier League scores would be included though.
While the iPhone 3GS will be getting iOS 6, certain features will be disabled, or won’t work due to hardware restrictions. FaceTime is a good example, but oddly, 3G video calls with FaceTime won’t work on the iPhone 4 either, so the last generation phone will have to stick with Wi-Fi.
Apple’s new mapping software was one of the presentation’s highlights, but the 3D Flyover feature and worst, the turn-by-turn navigation will only work on the iPhone 4S, iPad 2 and the new iPad.
The offline reading list, shared Photo Streams and the VIP mailbox features are all only for the iPhone 4 and above. Any new Made for iPhone hearing aids will only connect to an iPhone 4S too.
None of these are deal-breakers (although the lack of turn-by-turn navigation comes close) and iOS 6 should still keep the 3GS feeling fresh, especially for a nearly three-year-old handset. We can expect iOS 6 to launch in the autumn.