When you buy an iPhone or iPad, Apple makes it pretty clear which operating systems support it, whether Mac OS X or Windows. They also tell you which version of iTunes is required. What they don’t tell you is that this can change with iOS updates, leaving you unable to sync your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to your older Mac or Windows PC.
This came to our attention when one of our writers posted to our Facebook group that after updating his father’s iPhone to iOS 9, it no longer worked with his Mac running OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. Let’s take a look at what’s going on here.
iPhone OS 1, 2, and 3
The original iPhone and iPod touch from 2007 require iTunes 7.3 and 7.4 respectively, which works with now-ancient Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger – released in April 2005 and the “current” version of OS X for 2-1/2 years. That means even slot-loading iMacs, the Blue & White Power Mac G3 (1999), and Dual USB G3 iBooks support it.
iTunes 7.x and 8.x work with OS X 10.4 and later as well as Windows XP Home and Professional with Service Pack 2 and Windows Vista Home Premium, Business, Enterprise and Ultimate Edition. This supports iPhone OS 1, 2, and 3.
- Mac: iPhone OS 1-3 require a G3 Mac running OS X 10.4 Tiger.
- PC: iPhone OS 1-3 require Windows XP SP2 or Vista.
iOS 4 and 5
With iOS 4, released with the iPhone 4, you need iTunes 9.x, which requires OS X 10.5 Leopard and later along with Windows XP Home and Professional with Service Pack 3 and Windows Vista. iTunes 10.x is supported by the same operating systems.
The Leopard requirement leaves all G3 Macs behind and is not supported on G4 systems below 867 MHz, although there is a workaround for that. No PCs were left behind.
- Mac: iOS 4-5 require a G4 Mac running OS X 10.5.
- PC: iOS 4-5 require Windows XP SP3 or Vista.
iOS 6, 7, and 8
iOS 6, which arrived with the iPhone 5, needs iTunes 10.7 or later, and that requires OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard and later as well as Windows XP SP3, Vista, and Windows 7. iOS 7 and 8 need iTunes 11 and have the same OS requirements.
On the PC side, once again no hardware is left behind, but on the Mac side, there is no support for any PowerPC Macs or for Intel Macs running OS X 10.4 or 10.5. Fortunately every Intel Mac can run Snow Leopard, which you can still get from Apple for $19. (You should have at least 2 GB of system memory to run OS X 10.6 efficiently.)
- Mac: iOS 6-8 require an Intel Mac running OS X 10.6.
- PC: iOS 6-8 require Windows XP SP3, Vista, or 7.
Although iOS 9 runs on the same iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches that support iOS 8, iOS 9 has new system requirements for your computer. As noted above, it requires a version of iTunes that is not compatible with OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.
Whether you’re getting an iPhone 6S or 6S Plus, which ships with iOS 9, or upgrading an iPhone 4S, 5G iPod touch, or any iPad but the original to iOS 9, it requires iTunes 12.3 – and that requires OS X 10.8.5 Mountain Lion or later or Windows 7 or later.
Yes, for the first time Apple has left behind all those ancient PCs still running Windows XP or Vista. It also left behind Core Duo Macs, which top out with OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, as well as the following Core 2 Duo Macs that run nothing newer than OS X 10.7 Lion:
- Late 2006 iMac
- Mid 2007 Mac mini
- Late 2006 15″ MacBook Pro and Late 2006 17″ MacBook Pro
- Late 2008 MacBook White and earlier (Late 2008 Aluminum MacBook is supported)
- Early 2008 MacBook Air
- 2006 and 2007 Mac Pros
- 2006 and 2008 Xserves
For PC users, hardware requirements for Windows 7-10 include a 1 GHz x86 CPU, 1 GB of system memory, DirectX 9 graphics, and 16 GB of available drive space. This is a big step from Windows XP, with a 233 MHz Pentium, 64 MB of memory, Super VGA graphics, and 1.5 GB of drive space are required, while a 300 MHz CPU, 128 MB of RAM, 3-4 GB of drive space (for Service Packs), and a Sound Card are all recommended.
For 64-bit Windows 7-10, 2 GB of RAM and 20 GB of drive space are required. 64-bit Windows XP only asked for a 64-bit CPU, 256 MB of RAM, 1.5 GB of drive space, and SuperVGA graphics.
- Mac: iOS 9 requires a Core 2 Duo Mac with Nvidia graphics and OS X 10.8.5.
- PC: iOS requires Windows 7, 8, 8.1, or 10.
Remarkably, Apple supports some Macs going as far back as 2007 (iMacs plus 15″ and 17″ MacBook Pros), but only back to 2009 in other lines. That means some 6-8 year old Macs can support iOS 9 in iTunes. It also means that no 2006 Macs are supported, and that only some 2007 and 2008 Macs are supported, so all Macs over 9 years old are unsupported, as are some 7 year old Macs.
Honestly, that’s pretty good. Sure, we’re Low End Mac and would love to see our old gear supported forever, we’ve been spoiled by iOS 6-8 still working with 2006 Macs.
The change is much steeper for Windows users, who were still supported on Windows XP through iOS 8 and iTunes 11. Granted, there probably aren’t a lot of sub-1 GHz PCs still in used today, but the requirements for Windows 7-10 are pretty steep for those still using ancient PCs.
Keywords: #ios9 #itunes12
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