GPS Week Number Rollover – update iPhone 4/5 or iPad pre-2013 NOW

GPS Rollover issue

Apple has advised iPhone 4/5 and iPad pre-2013 users to update iOS before midnight UTC on 3 November 2019. That is 10 AM Australian Eastern Standard Daylight Savings time. It is all due to a GPS Week Number Rollover issue. Failure to update will cause a literal crash and burn.

WTF? GPS Week Number Rollover? Update iPhone 4/5 and iPad pre-2013 or App Store, iCloud, email, web, and other services stop working? Is the sky falling?

The GPS Week Number Rollover issue is real

It started to affect some users from 6 April. Why Apple has waited until 26 October to issue a panic advisory is unfathomable.

GPS Week number rollover

Apple’s statement of 26 October (and no, it is not April Fools)

For iPhone 5 is here, and iPhone 4 and iPad is here and states

Before midnight UTC on November 3, 2019, iPhone 4, 5 and iPad pre-2013 (Cellular) will require an iOS update. This is 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. This is due to the GPS Week Number rollover issue.

If you ignore this, there is a world of pain coming your way. If you miss the deadline, you will have to back up and restore using a Mac or PC. Why? Because over-the-air software updates and iCloud Backup will not work.

The affected device must update to iOS 10.3.4 (iPhone 5 or iPad Gen 4) or 9.3.6 (iPhone 4s or iPad Gen 3 or earlier). It does not affect Wi-Fi only iPads or later.

There is no mention of earlier iPhone or iPad models. That is because iOS only supports the previous five generations of the device. The iOS versions above are not the latest. It is up to 13 now rendering iPhone 6 or earlier not updatable.

GadgetGuy’s take – GPS Week Number Rollover is not all Apple’s fault, but very late notice is!

The GPS Week Number Rollover 10-bit issue (more here) happens every 19 years. It is to do with how long GPS devices can hold dates. Affected devices have a GPS chip (these are generally the cellular 2/3/4G versions – regardless of whether you use a sim).

Older Android devices and GPS land, sea or air navigation devices may require a GPS app update. Also likely an Android update. Mind you not many 2012 devices will still be in use.

How do you know if your device is toast? First, the 10-bit issue is now over by changing it to 13-bits (157-year roll-over). But any old software/firmware reliance on GPS 10-bit will cease to work. Basically, your time and/or location will be inaccurate. What good is that?

In Apple’s case the impact appears more extreme. The device must have the correct time and date (from GPS) to access the App Store, iCloud, email, web, and other services.

So get all those old iPhones, iPads, and smartphones etc. out of the draw and update NOW (or use them as a boat anchor).