Apple iPhone 5 Users Warned To Update iOS Now, Or Lose Functionality

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Users of older Apple devices warned to immediately update the iOS due to ‘GPS time rollover issue’

Apple has warned iPhone 5 users to update their iOS version, in order not to lose GPS functionality that may trigger problems with browsing, app use, or incorrect times and dates.

Apple made the warning in a support document, in which it said that a ‘GPS time rollover issue’ with the iPhone 5 could result in problems if the user wants to “continue to use functions that rely on correct date and time including App Store, iCloud, email, and web browsing.”

Apple in March 2017 officially ended of support for iPhone 5 and 5C with iOS 10.3.2. Apple had released the iPhone 5 as far back as September 2012, but the device was replaced a year later as Apple’s flagship device by the iPhone 5S.

Update now

“Starting just before 12:00 a.m. UTC on November 3, 2019, iPhone 5 will require an iOS update 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,” warned Apple.

“This is due to the GPS time rollover issue that began affecting GPS-enabled products from other manufacturers on April 6, 2019,” it said. “Affected Apple devices are not impacted until just before 12:00 a.m. UTC on November 3, 2019.”

“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,” it added.

And it is not just the iPhone 5 that can be affected by the issue.

Users of the iPhone 5 and iPad (4th generation) Wi-Fi + Cellular will need to ensure that they have iOS 10.3.4 installed.

Users of iPhone 4s; iPad mini (1st generation) Wi-Fi + Cellular; iPad 2 Wi-Fi + Cellular (CDMA models only); and iPad (3rd generation) Wi-Fi + Cellular need to ensure that they are running iOS 9.3.6.

This issue does not affect iPod touch or any iPad models that have Wi-Fi only, Apple said.

GPS flaw

Essentially, the problem is down to a bug with the Global Positioning System (GPS) Week Number Rollover.

This flaw happens every 1,024 weeks – or 19.7 years. The last GPS rollover bug occurred back in 1999.

It stems from the fact that the GPS system broadcasts dates, along with a weekly counter that is stored in ten binary digits. This effectively limits the range of the weekly counter to between 0 and 1,023, and after this 1023 is reached, the value “rolls over” and changes back to zero again.

This can cause issues with software or apps that hasn’t been developed to account for the rollover. It could for example see software that doesn’t have a fix for the bug, change a device date by 20 or 40 years.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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