Dear Aunt TUAW,
As an iPad 1 owner, would now be the best time to make sure I load up on apps -- as the iPad 1 won't be supported in iOS 6?
I assume that my purchases will be in the cloud for a bit but what happens when a new version is released? Will I still be able to download the version that runs on my iPad, or am I out of luck?
Your loving nephew,
Every time Auntie passes by her neglected iPad 1, it looks at her with sad eyes. It knows its days in the sun are limited.
Should you buy iPad 1 apps now? Yes. Heck yes. Heck yes with a big bag of liniment and Werthers on top. Your tablet isn't eligible for iOS 6, so if you plan to accessorize -- do it now. Buy all the iOS 5.x apps you can foresee using, and get ready for the mass upgrade.
iOS users are great adopters. Heck, if memory serves Auntie right, more people were illegally using iOS 6 beta releases than had installed the latest legal version of Android. (Auntie loves this statistic, so please correct her gently if it is fabricated.)
Back-supporting old iOS firmware versions can be a huge chore for iOS developers. The cost-benefit fallout for a few outlier users paints a bleak picture. So expect more and more of your favorite apps to move into "only supports iOS 6 and later" territory. (And expect your app upgrade bubbles to gain larger and larger numbers over time -- Auntie wishes Apple would add a "don't bug me for upgrades after iOS " option.)
Will you be able to re-download the iPad 1 version after developers release new ones? No. Will you be out of luck? Yes. Can you back up the existing versions of the applications? Yes, they're living in your [home]/Music/iTunes/Mobile Applications folder; you can copy the essential ones elsewhere in case you upgrade one by accident.
Buy now, upgrade now, or just make the move to new hardware. If you can swing it, Auntie recommends hardware. There are some terrific deals on refurbished iPad 2s out there, and the new iPad, which Auntie calls the 3 (so there), is just spiffy.