On Software That’s Incompatible with New Operating Systems ➝

Jeremy Horowitz, writing for 9 to 5 Mac:

But what happens when an app — marketed as compatible with current iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches — is never updated for the latest version of iOS, and either stops working after an iOS upgrade, or never works at all on new devices?

This is one of the few things that worries me about the switch from physical media to digital objects.

I can still plug my SNES into my television and play Mega Man X2. Neither Capcom nor Nintento has to maintain a server for me to play the game, and there’s no need to worry about incompatible software updates. Whether I want to play the game now or five years from now, it’s going to work.

The same can’t be said about the games or apps of today. At some point in the future Apple might release a sort-of-Rosetta for iOS that’s capable of running applications that are no longer supported by their developers. The apps would run inside of a container that mimics older versions of iOS. But, that still wouldn’t work for games or apps that require an online connection to the developer’s server (that likely no longer exists).

My primary concern is that children who are growing up now will have no way of playing the games they’re nostalgic for in twenty years. That is unless, the developer decides to rerelease the game for a new platform. But it’s going to cost you, and that’s assuming the company who owns it is still even around in twenty years.