iOS 13.4 and macOS 10.15.4 Prevent FaceTime Calls With Some Older Devices

Apple’s recently released iOS 13.4 and macOS 10.15.4 have rendered some users unable to make FaceTime calls to people with older devices.

According to a new report from MacRumors, a number of iPhone and iPad users have taken to Twitter to complain about how they are unable to make FaceTime calls to their friends or family using an old iPhone or iPad that’s running iOS 9.3.5/6. The issue arose after users updated their iPhone or iPad to iOS 13.4.

Users who are still running iOS 13.3.1 can continue to make FaceTime calls to old iPhones and iPads running iOS 9.3.6. The issue is also present in the macOS Catalina 10.15.4 release. It is unclear if this is an intentional change from Apple or a bug that has slipped into the iOS 13.4 release. At the moment, it is also not known if this issue is also present in the iOS 13.4.5 beta 1 release that Apple dropped yesterday.

Although there could be security reasons for cutting off access to certain older devices, the problem here is twofold. First, users of older devices would have had no reason to believe Apple would abruptly cut them off from making FaceTime calls, which were both popular and widely advertised when the devices were released.

Second, the issue is likely to disproportionately impact users of hand-me-down devices, including grandparents and kids. This is of particular concern for families struggling to maintain contact between loved ones during the pandemic, which has radically restricted in-person communication for many seniors, forcing them to rely on video chats.

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.