It was pretty exciting news when Apple made it possible to install older versions of iOS apps on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, but if you’ve tried to download a new app that requires a newer OS than your device has, you’ve probably been stumped.
It happened to me recently. I was looking for ways to get more Dropbox space for my wife, and if you download the Mailbox email client (Gmail only at present), Dropbox will give you an additional 1 GB of space. That’s pretty good for just downloading an app!
I sent a Dropbox invitation from her Mac to one of my less used email addresses, created a new Dropbox account, and attempted to download Mailbox on my iPhone 3GS for that extra gigabyte of storage.
Sorry, the App Store informed me, but this app requires iOS 7, so you can’t load and install it on your old iPhone running iOS 6. After all I’d heard about the App Store allowing you to download the last version of an app to support your iOS version, I was frustrated. What good is this new feature if it doesn’t really work?
I emailed Dropbox asking what to do, and while waiting for a response, I decided to install Mailbox on my iPhone 4S, which is running iOS 7, and get an extra gigabyte of storage for my main account. The app installed and ran without a hitch, and my Dropbox account now has over 20 GB of free storage!
After that, I went back to my iPhone 3GS with iOS 6 to try installing Mailbox again – and it worked. I guess that’s because I had previously downloaded a current version of Mailbox, even if it had been just a few minutes earlier and it was a version that doesn’t work with iOS 6.
So here’s the solution to installing new apps to your old version of iOS, and it won’t work for everyone. You’ll need to use an iDevice with a version of iOS that supports the current version of the app, make sure you’re logged in with the same ID on both devices, and simply install the app on the newer device.
Now when you try to install an older version of the app with your iDevice running an older version of iOS, you should have no problem. The App Store should show you the cloud-with-arrow icon indicating that you’ve previously downloaded the app to some iDevice with the same user ID.
It’s an odd workaround, and perhaps Apple will eventually make it possible to install previous versions without having to use an iDevice with an iOS version that supports the current version of the app, but until then, at least we have a workaround.
Short link: http://goo.gl/V7onxq