FaceTime over 3G, another new iOS 6 feature, will be restricted to devices powered by the A5 or higher, meaning the functionality will be available only on the iPhone 4S and new iPad. To make a FaceTime video, iPhone 4 and iPad 2 users will still have to be connected to Wi-Fi when iOS 6 launches this fall.
In addition to FaceTime over 3G, the new “Flyover” feature and turn-by-turn directions in Apple’s Maps app also require an A5 chip or later. The iPhone 4, launched two years ago, features the previous-gen A4 processor.
iPhone 3GS owners will be most unlucky, as they wouldn’t be able to take advantage of shared Photo streams, as well as VIP lists and Flagged smart mailboxes in the tweaked Mail application and the “Offline Reading List” in Safari. Those features will be limited to the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 or newer. Finally, only iPhone 4S users will have access to “Made for iPhone” hearing aids in iOS 6.
iOS 6 compatibility with the iPhone 3GS has already raised questions about how the company drew its lines. Sporting a newer and more powerful chip than the iPhone 3GS, the first-gen iPad is nevertheless completely unsupported. Apple may have decided to exclude the original iPad from the list of supported devices simply because the iPhone 3GS is still in production.
Apple’s fine print for its next-generation mobile operating system doesn’t mention the fourth-gen iPod touch, which is among the devices to run iOS 6 when it hits the market. The fourth-gen iPod touch incorporates an A4 chipset similar to the one featured in the iPhone 4, meaning the company will likely apply the same feature restrictions to the media player.