TI Education has announced that the newest OS for the TI-83 Premium CE, the French version of the TI-84 Plus CE, removes the ability to run native programs - assembly, or ASM, and by extension C programs, which compile into assembly. This new version, OS 5.5.1, both disables assembly support and prevents the OS from being downgraded. BASIC, and where supported, Python, will continue to work as-is. Although no such software update has been announced for the TI-84 Plus CE yet, our observations of the broadly shared featureset between the TI-84 Plus CE and the TI-83 Premium CE makes us strongly suspect that ASM/C support will be removed from the TI-84 Plus CE in a similar OS update in the near future.What does this mean for me?
- Students: TI-BASIC and Python programs and games will still work, but once you have OS 5.5, assembly and C programs and games will no longer run on your calculator. Downgrade protection will prevent you from switching to an older OS to restore that functionality. We suspect that some exams in France will require you to upgrade to this OS version in order to use your calculator on those exams. On the plus side, OS 5.5.1 also introduces exciting new Python features for the TI-83 Premium CE Edition Python that have been extensively outlined by critor on TI-Planet.
- Teachers: Very little will change for teachers.
- Hobbyists: Depends whether this change remains restricted to the French community or will be rolled out to all TI-84 Plus CE calculators. To a smaller or larger extent, the community will no longer have as wide an audience for assembly and C programs. As students continue to buy and upgrade calculators, a smaller and smaller audience of pre-OS 5.5.1 users will exist to use assembly and C programs and games. If this change does indeed affect all TI-84 Plus CE calculators, we anticipate that there will be decreasing motivation in the community to continue to write and maintain new ASM/C programs. Unfortunately, students-turned-hobbyists will no longer be able to progress from TI-BASIC to assembly/C on their calculators, and will instead need to be directed to Python (if they have Edition Python calculators) or to other platforms like smartphones, computers, Arduinos, Raspberry Pi, etc.
According to our contacts at TI, who took the time to share this difficult decision with us ahead of time, pressures from a combination of standardized testing groups and teachers drove this decision. While TI-BASIC programs can be removed by clearing memory, and Apps can now only be signed by TI-approved vendors, ASM/C give programmers significantly more control over the calculator. As we know, the majority of the community has used these powers to make TI's calculators (including the TI-83 Premium CE/TI-84 Plus CE) a more engaging platform, pedagogical concerns remain. More succinctly, an official statement:
I expected that you're as shocked as I was when I first learned of this change. Although optimistically we might hope it won't come to the TI-84 Plus CE as well, we're fairly confident that the established pattern means we will see this before the next school year here in the US. It would be nice if this removal was offset by Python support on non-European TI-84 Plus CE calculators, but we don't know of this being in the current development pipeline. We will keep you posted on new developments, and we will continue doing our best to champion the community as an important part of TI's customer base. We anticipate having further information and commments from TI on this issue as it continues to develop, and we will share that further information with you as we're able.Download