One year ago, Apple introduced the most significant visual upgrade in iOS’s short but significant history: iOS 7 had a completely new look. Along with that look came subtle but significant changes in how to design and implement iOS apps.
Those subtle changes by themselves weren’t so hard to implement, but there was one albatross that hung over developers’ and designers’ heads:
Yes, backward compatibility with iOS 6 was a not insignificant problem. Apple recommended that your app running under iOS 6 retain its iOS 6-style look and feel (typically with gradients and shadows and detailed graphics), while your app running under iOS 7 should have a new, flatter look.
Apple even provided a few guides to make designers’ and developers’ lives easier (the Transition Guide and the UIKit Catalog). Still, creating an app that worked–and looked good–on both iOS 6 and iOS 7 was challenging. Not only that, it was busy work that your best developers probably would rather not do.
Maybe your team hasn’t gotten around to doing it. Maybe they’ve made a few steps in that direction, but it always gets put on the back burner, in favor of more exciting features. Or maybe you just haven’t updated your app in the past year (for shame!).
Well, I’ve got good news.
iOS 6 doesn’t matter any more. That’s right, iOS 6 is fading into the dustbin of history, what with iOS 8 right around the corner.
People and enterprises that are used to Windows and web development are used to supporting old versions of Windows and browsers for years and years. But that’s not the way iOS development works.
It’s a new world out there.
Apple publishes their iOS version share pie chart every couple of weeks–and lately it’s been showing that iOS 7 is on 90% of devices that go to the App Store. In other words, only 10% of devices are on iOS 6 or earlier.
And with the release of iOS 8 coming next month, that number will only go down.
Not only are old versions not important, it’s a competitive advantage to support new versions of iOS and their cool new features. And there are lots of cool new features in iOS 7 and 8.
So, my advice is this:
If you haven’t already released a version of your app that supports both iOS 6 and iOS 7, just skip the iOS 6 support going forward. By the time you release your app, iOS 8 will be out, and very soon thereafter 25% or more of your users will be on iOS 8, and most of the rest will be on iOS 7.
And those 25% of users on iOS 8 are the earlier adopters–they are looking for hot new features. They’re the thought leaders in your company or among your customers or clients. They’re the tastemakers. They’re the ones who are helping employees or customers learn the new features of your app.
Those 25% early adopters are your friends, and you want to provide them with the latest and greatest.
It’s a new world out there: instead of thinking about how to support legacy users, you want to be thinking about giving your innovators the newest and coolest and most productive tools to move your business forward.
It’s time to throw off the shackles of iOS 6! You should be adding features from iOS 8 and planning for new devices coming from Apple. Mobile moves too fast to worry about legacy. It’s a new world out there.
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