Apple’s latest updates kill FaceTime on older iPhone, iPad models

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Group FaceTime is a great way to stay in touch with your family and friends during coronavirus quarantine.
It's not a good time to lose FaceTime.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s most recent software updates have reportedly broken FaceTime compatibility with older iPhone and iPad models, leaving many users unable to make voice or video calls during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The issue affects devices running iOS 13.4 and macOS 10.15.4 when they attempt to connect with devices running iOS 9.3.5 or iOS 9.3.6 — or vice-versa. There is no fix for now.

Video calling services like FaceTime have become hugely important to millions of us while we’re stuck at home, unable to visit friends and loved ones. The last thing we need is for those services to be failing on us.

Sadly, that’s exactly what’s happening for a specific group of iPhone, iPad, and Mac users.

FaceTime broken on older iOS devices

“Since updating my iPhone 11 Pro and iPad Air 2 to 13.4 I can no longer FaceTime an old iPad running iOS 9, one that my elderly grandparents are using during this difficult time,” Ali Kahn explained on Twitter.

“After upgrading my iPad Pro 2018 to iPadOS 13.4 I get stuck on “Connecting” screen when calling my parents who use iPad 3 running iOS 9.3.5,” wrote another user on the Apple Communities support forum.

Others on Reddit and on the MacRumors Forums are reporting the same.

The problem first occurred when Apple rolled out its most recent updates on March 24. Devices still running iOS 13.3.1 or macOS 10.15.3 can still connect with iOS 9 devices over FaceTime, but it’s just not possible after updating.

Apple typically recommends updating to its latest software to fix any issues, but for many iPhone and iPad models still in use, iOS 9.3.5 or iOS 9.3.6 are the last supported versions. The list of devices stuck on these releases inludes:

  • iPad 2
  • iPad (third-generation)
  • iPhone 4S
  • iPad mini (first-generation)
  • iPod touch (fifth-generation)

There is no fix

“We have received reports of this issue and I want to make sure we get

this issue resolved as quickly as possible,” an Apple Support representative explained to one user. They promised to escalate it to the engineering team.

For now, however, there is no complete fix — and no temporary workaround. It’s no longer possible to downgrade an iPhone or iPad that has been updated to iOS 13.4 or iPadOS 13.4, so there is no way back.

So, there are two options: You either have to wait for Apple to deliver a fix when it’s ready, or you must replace older iOS devices with new ones than can run more recent versions of its operating system.

Just a bug?

What’s unclear at this point is whether this is indeed just a bug, or whether Apple has intentionally stopped supporting older versions of iOS due to unknown compatibility issues. It certainly hasn’t said that’s the case.

We’ve contacted Apple for further information and we’ll update this post if we get a response.