iOS 7 dual-booted on an iPod Touch 4th Generation – A look at this unsupported feat and how well it works
From the first days of device hacking, people ran things on their devices because they could and not for any useful purpose. Back in the day when the PSP was all the rage, many people, myself included, ran Windows 95/98/ME on it just for fun. Recently, I decided to do another thing just for fun and that was running iOS 7 on an iPod Touch 4!
Some background and why iOS 7 doesn’t support the iPod Touch 4
Back in 2010, Apple released 3 devices with the Apple A4 SoC which are the iPad 1, iPod Touch 4 and iPhone 4. Quite curiously, they only gave 512MB RAM to the iPhone 4 and left the iPod Touch 4/iPad 1 with only 256MB RAM, which went on to cause performance issues later on for these devices. The iPad 1 was killed off with iOS 6 and the iPod Touch 4 was killed off with iOS 7 but the iPhone 4 stayed until iOS 7.1.2 even though it didn’t run it too well.
A couple of years ago, dual-booting versions of iOS on older 32-bit Apple devices became something quite easily achievable and of course, some people decided to try unsupported versions of iOS on their devices just for fun! Recently, a Twitter user called Raffaele tweeted his iPod Touch 4 running iOS 7 and that got me interested. Obviously, the reason why the iPod Touch 4 could run iOS 7 for the iPhone 4 is because their hardware is quite similar but it’s not quite as similar as some may think…
What worked and what didn’t
After following a grueling guide and asking for some help, I was able to dual-boot iOS 7.1.2 alongside iOS 6.1.6 on my iPod Touch and this is what I found out:
- Some things actually do work and these include GPU acceleration, all the hardware buttons and the touchscreen.
- On the other hand, some things didn’t work and these included sound, the ambient light sensor, the rear facing camera (not sure about the front facing one), rotation, WiFi, Bluetooth and probably some other things.
- While enough things worked for it to boot, I faced one major issue and that was kernel panics every 2-3 minutes. After some research, it turned out that it was because my iPod Touch is an 8GB model as people who owned a 16GB or 64GB apparently didn’t experience similar crashes. The error was ‘WDT Timeout’ in case you’re curious.
- As expected, performance isn’t great BUT on iOS 7.1.2, it’s not too bad and may be useable if you use it for a single task! iOS 7.0 is totally unusable tho.
As running iOS 7 on my iPod Touch 4, which I bought back in 2010, was something I wanted to do for quite a while, I didn’t give up quite easily and tried the following:
- I tried using files from the iPhone 3,2 (iPhone 4 8GB) but unfortunately, that didn’t work as the kernel just panicked before it got to the UI.
- Using the kernel and devicetree from iOS 6.1.6 but that didn’t work either
- Installing the WiFi firmware from iOS 6.1.6 on the iOS 7.1.2 partition but WiFi still didn’t work even though I renamed the files to match the ones found in iOS 7.1.2!
After wasting quite a few hours on it without any results, I decided to give up but fortunately, I took some pictures to remember the adventure!
If you want to try this yourself, follow the guide linked below and prepare yourself for a headache or two. The iBEC/iBSS (important parts of the bootchain) patching stage is quite difficult so I’d suggest you ask somebody for the patched files, like I did (thanks Raffaele), if you can’t figure it out. For those who don’t want to dual-boot their system, they can create a custom IPSW which has to be tether booted via DFU mode!
Furthermore, make sure to follow the iOS 7+-specific instructions and good luck! Oh, and remember to delete /Applications/Setup.app from your iOS 7 partition or else you won’t be able to use as activation doesn’t work!
Dual-booting guide: https://nyansatan.github.io/dualboot/
iOS 7+ specific notes (if you don’t follow these, your device won’t boot!): https://nyansatan.github.io/dualboot/ios7plusdualboot.html
A video showing it in action (it’s by 91Tech and Wololo isn’t affiliated with them in any way): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78Modl0v0mw
Easy dual-booting utility for A5/A6 devices and the iPhone 4: https://coolbooter.com/
Don’t do this if you don’t have time to waste 😉 I know that iDevices aren’t the main focus of Wololo but I think this is something that people who hack consoles could still find interesting!