The iPhone 5 is nearly upon us! iOS 6 was released today! So all our apps need updating to support this!
Waaaaaah! That’s a lot of updates.
It’s not so much an immediate need to have everything look beautiful with that larger screen size. I already wrote about what may or may not happen with some of our games, and how “letterboxing” affects them. It’s more that Apple are almost certainly going to give better visibility to apps that support their brand new device.
Whether there’s a separate section of the App Store – like how it’s currently split into iPhone and iPad – for taller screen apps, or whether search results are biased towards updated apps if you have the iPhone 5, or simply whether they’re on the lookout for updated apps to feature on the store’s homepage; we don’t know, but we don’t want to miss out.
Supporting iPhone 5 from day 1 (which may still be possible, we’re hearing stories of one-day approvals for iOS 6 updates right now; the review team must be in overdrive!) could end up being almost as significant as being a launch title!
But choices have to be made. The earliest iOS version you can support with the latest developer tools is 4.3, whereas currently we support back to 4.1. The significance of this is that it rules out two older devices – iPhone 3G and 2nd generation iPod touch – which can’t update beyond 4.2.1.
In fact, there’s very little point supporting 4.3. Anything that can run 4.3 can be upgraded to 5.0 or 5.1, and we already know that Apple users tend to update pretty quickly if they can.
So in one respect, this does us a favour. We can strip out any code that is specific to iOS 4 and concentrate on only supporting iOS 5 and higher.
But at what cost? Just how many of our users will this affect? Is it really worth dumping support for two devices that I’m sure are still well-loved by their owners, just so we can look good on the shiny new iPhone?
Well, I have stats for that, and fortunately – for everyone except those of you with these models – the answer is a resounding YES!
Since the start of September, iPhone 3G users have accounted for just 0.7% of our new users. 2nd gen iPod touches are a little more popular: 2.1%. In total, between them, less than 3% of our daily new users.
Conversely, iPhone 4S users accounted for 12.7% of our new users during the first week of its release last year!
So, if we suspect that iPhone 5 users are going to be looking for iPhone 5-optimised apps (something that wasn’t a consideration for the 4S) then we absolutely need to make these updates as soon as we possibly can.
It’s worth pointing out that existing users with older devices won’t notice anything. They’ll still be able to run the apps fine – they just won’t get any more updates in future. However, the apps they’ve got will continue to work just as they do now.
But users with a 2nd generation iPod touch or iPhone 3G won’t be able to install new apps that require iOS 5 and above. If you have one of these devices and don’t yet have Word Search Party, go grab it now. It’s really your last chance. We just submitted the first update. The rest won’t be far behind!