iOS is Dead! Long Live iOS!

The meaning of the phrase “The King is Dead! Long Live the King!” may be lost on many Americans, as we don’t have a monarchy. It’s an apparent contradiction, and seems baffling. It has its roots in France, where as soon as the king died, his son or heir would instantly be the new king. So the phrase really means “The Old King is Dead! Long Live the New King!”. It just doesn’t sound as catchy that way.

In a similar manner, it’s clear that Apple is declaring that “iOS is Dead! Long Live iOS!”. Allow me to explain.

iOS 7 on iPhone and iPad

Apple made a huge announcement last night that will have a dramatic effect on any iOS applications your enterprise may have written. Apple stated in no uncertain terms that,  as of February 1st, 2014, all App Store submissions must be built with Xcode 5, and must fully support iOS 7.

This is similar to a decree that Apple made last March, when it said that, as of May 1st 2013, all App Store submissions (new apps and updates) must fully support the taller iPhone 5 screen. I’ve been telling our clients that the same story would play out for iOS 7 support—it’s just that Apple did it even sooner than I expected.

So how does this simple requirement mean that “iOS is dead”? Well, much like the old king being dead and the new one long-lived, Apple is putting a stake in the ground and saying that iOS 7 is the new king—you must support it, fully.

So it’s like saying, “iOS 6 is Dead! Long Live iOS 7!”. Now, this doesn’t literally mean that iOS 6 is dead. Even with this new decree, it’s perfectly possible to update existing apps to work on both iOS 6 and iOS 7, or even create new apps that work on both versions.

But it’s not without significant effort to create new apps that work on both. There certainly are multiple ways to support the appearances and layouts that differ between iOS 6 and 7. But if you’re creating a new app now, chances are it won’t deploy until iOS 8 is already in beta. By that point you’ll want to support iOS 8 and iOS 7, but iOS 6 will be fading into history.

Ask yourself: for any new app you’re creating, does it make sense to support more than one version behind the current version? Recall that iOS 7 is already on over 75% of all devices, and that percentage is only growing day by day.

Is the best use of your limited IT resources supporting older versions of iOS that are quickly fading away?

If not, then you’ll join me in shouting, “iOS is Dead! Long Live iOS!”.

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