Apple urges iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S users to update now before they lose vital functions
Apple is rushing to get the word out to users of older iPhone device that they need to urgently update or else lose several key functionalities for a bizarre event that only happens once every two decades.
iPhone users still clinging to their seven-year-old iPhone 5 or eight-year-old iPhone 4S models need to update to the latest software this week, or risk losing access to GPS, email, iCloud, the App Store and other web services.
The flaw is caused by a strange tech phenomenon called GPS Rollover, which happens approximately once every 20 years.
The issue is caused by the way GPS technology keeps track of time.
The system counts weeks using binary digits, which means it can only count up to a maximum of 1024 weeks.
This means every 1024 weeks, or around 19.7 years, the counter rolls over, which can cause problems for programs and devices that rely on GPS for the correct date and time but haven’t been coded correctly to account for the rollover.
They could be fooled into displaying a date from 20 or 40 years ago, or just stop working all together.
The rollover began happening for some systems in April this year, when widely used GPS components from US conglomerate Honeywell rolled over, leading to the temporary grounding of Bureau of Meteorology weather balloons and some Boeing aeroplanes.
Affected Apple devices will rollover shortly before midnight on Sunday, November 3 and need to be updated before then to avoid a time-consuming back up and restoration process using a separate computer.
Update your iPhone or iPad software to avoid issues with location
Starting just before 12:00 a.m. UTC on November 3, 2019,* some iPhone and iPad models introduced in 2012 and earlier will require an iOS update to maintain accurate GPS location. This is due to the GPS time rollover issue that began affecting GPS-enabled products from other manufacturers on April 6, 2019. Affected Apple devices are not impacted until just before 12:00 a.m. UTC on November 3, 2019.
Update your device’s software
It’s always a good idea to keep the operating system on your iPhone or iPad updated. If you have one of the devices listed below, it’s especially important to update your device’s software wirelessly or using your computer before November 3 to make sure that its GPS continues to work properly.
If you don’t update to the newest version of iOS available for your device before November 3, some models might not be able to maintain an accurate GPS position.
So update now.
iPhone 5 users should update to iOS 10.3.4, while iPhone 4S users need to be on iOS 9.3.6.
If you have your phone set to automatically update you probably won’t have to do anything, but it’s worth checking what version of the operating software your device is using just to be safe.
You can check your software version number in the device settings by tapping on the General field and then tapping About.
The GPS rollover issue is also set to disable cellular iPad models up to the 4th generation iPad.
Check your device’s iOS version
After you update your iPhone or iPad, you can check to make sure that your device has updated successfully:
- Open the Settings app.
- Tap General, then tap About.
- Look for the number next to Software Version.
|Updated iOS version||Device|
|iOS 10.3.4||iPhone 5
iPad (4th generation) Wi-Fi + Cellular
|iOS 9.3.6||iPhone 4s
iPad mini (1st generation) Wi-Fi + Cellular
iPad 2 Wi-Fi + Cellular (CDMA models only)
iPad (3rd generation) Wi-Fi + Cellular
This issue does not affect iPod touch or any iPad models that have Wi-Fi only. It also doesn’t affect iOS devices newer than those listed above.
Important information for owners of iPhone 5
For iPhone 5, an update is required to maintain accurate GPS location and to continue to use functions that rely on correct date and time including App Store, iCloud, email, and web browsing.
If the update to iPhone 5 is not completed by November 3, 2019, you will be required to back up and restore using a Mac or PC in order to update because over-the-air software updates and iCloud Backup will not work. Learn more.