Will my iPad, iPhone or iPod touch be able to run iOS 8? Is it worth getting a new device ahead of the iOS 8 launch so that I can take advantage of the new features in iOS 8?

When a new version iOS is launched, promising exciting new features and a polished (or entirely revamped) interface, many Apple fans on slightly older devices are forced to make a hard decision: abandon their cherished old iPhone or iPad - which may get an incomplete feature set, run slower or fail to run the new iOS at all - or miss out on the new iOS update. Well, iOS 8 is nearly here (the final version will be launched to the public on 17 September, two days before the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus go on sale), and it's jampacked with great new features. Will your iPhone or iPad be able to run iOS 8? And has the time come to upgrade your hardware in order to make the software upgrade?

iOS 8 was unveiled at WWDC 2014, and some Apple fans will be crushed to learn that their devices won't be able to run the new operating system. But there's good news for iPad 2 owners. Here's the official list of iPhones, iPods and iPads that made the cut, and will be able to run iOS 8 (information from Apple's website):

iPads, iPods and iPhones that can run iOS 8

But as we said, bear in mind that the devices towards the lower ends of those sets will only get a partial share of the features in iOS 8 - the AirDrop feature in iOS 7, for instance, was only available for the top tier of devices that were able to run the operating system. It's also possible that they will struggle with performance issues - the iPhone 4 was the oldest iPhone that could run iOS 7, and it ran noticeably slowly compared to iOS 6. (Apple addressed this in iOS 7.1, but only partially.)

iOS 8 review | iOS 8 features wishlist: the changes iPhone and iPad users want in Apple's iOS 8 | How to get the iOS 8 beta on your iPhone and iPad right now

My device isn't on the list. What happens to older iPads and iPhones? What should I do now?

If your iPad or iPhone isn't on the list above you won't be able to download any further updates to iOS (with the exception of security patches). This isn't the end of the world, and your device will continue to work and run as safely as before - you just won't get to enjoy the new features in iOS 8 (and iOS 9, and so on). Some apps specify a minimum iOS version, but you will probably find your ageing device's processing power limits your choice of apps much more than the fact that you're still on iOS 7, at least for a while.

Now may be the time to upgrade your device. But if you don't want to, or can't afford an upgrade, you can quite happily continue to run your iPhone 4, say, or original iPad - assuming you are satisfied with their speed. Don't feel pushed into an upgrade just because your device is no longer supported for iOS updates.

Which iPads and iPhones ran iOS 7 and previous versions of iOS?

If you're interested in iOS history, here's a list of the devices that supported previous versions of iOS. We used these to observe the trends and make our predictions before the official iOS 8 announcements.

  • iPhone OS 3: iPhone 1 and later; iPad 1 and later; iPod touch 1G and later
  • iOS 4: iPhone 3G and later; iPad 1 and later; iPod touch 2G and later
  • iOS 5: iPhone 3GS and later; iPad 1 and later; iPod touch 3G and later
  • iOS 6: iPhone 3GS and later; iPad 2 and later; iPad mini 1 and later; iPod touch 4G and later
  • iOS 7: iPhone 4 and later; iPad 2 and later; iPad mini 1 and later; iPod touch 5G

Which Apple devices will support iOS 8: our original predictions, and how we did

As we can see above, iPod touch support has tended to move up at the rate of one generation of iPod per version of iOS; at this rate we'd expect iOS 8 to only be available on a speculative sixth-generation iPod touch. But such a device doesn’t exist yet. One could conceivably be unveiled alongside iOS 8, but we think it’s more likely that iOS 8 will be supported by the 5th-gen iPod touch only. That's an easy one to start with. Update: we got this right - but it was pretty obvious!

How to prepare for the iOS 8 launch: Save your blobs, check the small print, read the reviews and join the beta (maybe)

iPad support has dropped off more slowly: the iPad 1 was launched while iPhone OS 3 was still (just) the current software, yet was able to run iOS 5 two versions later.

The iPad 2 has been the bottom rung for both iOS 6 and iOS 7, and may well be removed from the list of iOS 8-compatible hardware (especially as Apple no longer sells this tablet). Our prediction is that iOS 8 will be compatible with the iPad 3 and later. Update: nope - the iPad 2 survives.

It's possible that the iPad mini 1 won't be able to run iOS 8 but, with the device still on sale and only two possible mini models for buyers to choose from, we think this is unlikely. Update: correct.

iPad Air

iPhones have been moved downwards on the iOS ladder at the rate of one model every one to two versions of iOS. Which suggests that the iPhone 4 might survive, and it might not (it's only been on the bottom rung for a single version). But given the performance problems that have beset iPhone 4 models running iOS 7 (slightly alleviated, admittedly, by iOS 7.1), we think it will almost certainly be removed from iOS 8 compatibility. Our prediction is iPhone 4s and later. Update: correct. Three out of four, then.

Best free iPhone apps

More coverage of WWDC 2014

At WWDC 2014, Apple unveiled iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite. Read all about the event here: WWDC 2014 as it happened. We also have an OS X Yosemite review and an iOS 8 review (each based on preview beta versions of the software; they will be updated when the final versions launch).

8 new features in iOS 8 that we can't wait for | Everything you need to know about the iOS 8 beta versions

Want to know what happened at WWDC the year before? At WWDC 2013, Apple unveiled OS X 10.9 Mavericks and iOS 7, both of which were released as beta versions after the event, as well as the new Mac Pro, a new MacBook AiriTunes Radio, and iWork for iCloud.

Take a closer look at Apple's WWDC history in our slideshow of Apple's WWDC launches from the past 10 years.