Howto: iOS Rollbacks

Despite the fact that the development kits have been available for months, there are a handful of wildly popular apps that are not working properly on iOS 7. Specifically, these would be ebook apps like Barnes & Noble’s Nook reader or the dreadful Overdrive package that most public libraries have saddled us with.

If you were wondering, by the way, the fact that both of these are broken and use the somewhat pathetic Adobe Digital Editions engine is not a coincidence.

So. What do do if you need to roll back to iOS 6? You are in luck, that’s what. Unlike the normal state of affairs in these things, Apple has chosen to continue “signing” the installation tags for iOS 6. For how long? Who knows. But if you want to roll back this is the time, and this is how you do it.

First, head over to the Just A Penguin mobile OS repository. This is a fucking brilliant resource – you click on your device from the list at the top of this page, you are taken to a complete inventory of firmware packages your hardware that are available for download, and the ones that will install with authorization from Apple have a handy green checkmark beside them. As you can see, as of right now the latest version of iOS 6 is still a go for virtually every device that supports it.

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To roll back, simply click on the correct iOS 6 firmware bundle for your device to download it. Pay attention to where the .ipsw file is saved. Then start iTunes, plug in your phone/pad/pod/whatever, and navigate to the “info” screen for your device. Hold down the option key (or, for your Windoze types, the shift key) and click on the “Restore iPhone” (or iPad, or iPod, or whatever you have).

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Surf to the location of the. ipsw file in the file browser that conveniently pops up, select it, and go. Your device will downgrade to iOS 6, your apps will reinstall themselves* from your last iOS 6 backup, and you can revel in living in the digital olden days. Just keep a casual eye on your apps and when the ghetto titles that are holding you back finally do get updated, you can ramp back up to iOS 7 once again.
Enjoy.

*NOTE: Some apps – Evernote comes to mind – now have divergent binaries for iOS 7, and will NOT reinstall from your backup. You will have to pop back to the app store and re-download those sorts of items. iTunes will give you a handy list of which apps are like that on your device, so it’s not an overly onerous step. But forewarned is forearmed and all like that.

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