Apple's poor software quality might have just cut people off from FaceTime during a pandemic

16-inch MacBook Pro FaceTime
16-inch MacBook Pro FaceTime (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple recently released iOS 13.4 and macOS 10.15.4 to the public.
  • But those using updated devices can't make FaceTime calls to people with older devices.
  • Devices stuck on iOS 9.3.5 and iOS 9.3.6 are affected.

Apple's recently released iOS 13.4 and macOS 10.15.4 have rendered some people unable to make FaceTime calls to people with older devices, according to reports. Those with the latest version of iOS and macOS cannot call anyone running iOS 9.3.5/6.

The issue has been discussed at length on social networks and forums, with MacRumors spotting the trend.

While it isn't confirmed that this is a bug, there's little reason for Apple to make this move intentionally – we've reached out to Apple to confirm. And either way, it's a problem for people who need to communicate with friends and family at a time where doing exactly that has never been more important. We're in the middle of a global pandemic, and people can't make FaceTime calls.

While Apple's normal response would be to update the impacted devices to a newer version of iOS, that's not possible for some devices. Apple's Pad 2, the first-generation iPad mini and third-generation iPad as well as iPhone 4S, the first-generation iPad mini, and the fifth-generation iPod touch cannot be updated beyond iOS 9.3.6, for example.

Right now the only solution appears to be to use a service like WhatsApp – probably not Zoom! – instead. Good luck explaining that to someone who's never used it before. Or only has an iPad!

Assuming this is a bug, it's another example of Apple's software quality slide. The release of iOS 13 was notoriously problematic, with the same problem leveled against macOS 10.15.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.