I still keep a couple of my favorite old smartphones. Sometimes I use one of them as my primary device for fun. Phones are among the fastest evolving markets, even a year makes a whole lot of differences. One of the biggest challenges with using old phones is the software: they don’t run modern software. And old software isn’t compatible with new websites, frameworks, encryption standards, APIs. Use an old device, and you will find yourself unable to get anything done. Every app crashes or complains that it can’t connect to the server. Even with Apple who is doing a fantastic job of keeping their phones updated, you may notice that many sites and apps have started dropping support for the iPhone 5, which is still a totally capable device.
But there is always an unlikely app that consistently works on all of my devices, regardless of their OS and how old they are: Google Maps.
I have a whole slew of old PDAs and phones, and even something as simple as getting them online through wireless internet is a major hassle, because they don’t support the more advanced encryption protocols. Even if you do manage to get them online, they often won’t support IMAP or or they’ll lack some key email protocol settings. The fact that Google Maps apparently keeps on working is fascinating.
I don’t doubt google still supports many older devices, however there are limits to their backwards compatibility.
Years ago I wrote a simple web app using google maps API, it superimposed a car on top of the satellite imagery and allowed you to “drive” it. I was just playing around and it never did very much (ie no collision detection or anything), but I did come back to it only to find that google had broken their API. Just beware that when you depend on 3rd party services, they can and do break, even with google.