While away I gave a lot of thought to iOS 7 and what I should do as a developer. Here are a few thoughts:
- Upgrading an old app to iOS 7 only is very problematic from a customer’s perspective. If the customer chooses not to upgrade he/she can never recover the app if they need to reinstall. There is no way to fix any lingering bugs for that old customer. Maybe the latter isn’t a problem as you are moving on but the former is a major problem. I have a hard time telling a customer I’m moving on and they can never recover our product if they have a device issue.
- There are lots of devices that won’t support iOS 7. All but the most recent iPod touch (fifth generation) won’t support it. Furthermore the fourth generation was still on sale a month ago. The first iPad, a number of which are still around, and all iPhone’s not named 4, 4s, or 5 won’t support it.
- Furthermore I would bet a number of customers won’t upgrade initially. The change from iOS 6 to iOS 7 is pretty extreme. Many may wait to see the reaction.
- I like the idea of developing a new app that is iOS 7 only. It is a wonderful chance to streamline the code, fix any problems, remove feature bloat or fix the business model.
- Charging for the new app, if the old one was a one-time purchase, is hard here. I did this once and got killed for it, albeit temporarily. This is a major change, though, so maybe customers will be more understanding.
- In addition those old purchases don’t go away like they used to. You can remove them from the store but the customer can still recover them. This changed a year or two ago, which was a smart change.
- I’ve been very vocal that one-time purchases don’t work well. Others believe the same. The prices are too low and the revenues too small to support customers long-term, and productivity apps need long legs. I’m contemplating a business model change at the same time we consider iOS 7 only apps.
- The timeline is tight. It may not feel that way but if Apple maintains old schedules we are looking at an early October release. That’s only three months away and the summer months go fast. Apple is releasing betas quickly and things are going to change and break and get fixed and we are going to have to keep up with all of that. Not to mention other projects were started and need to be completed.
- It may be necessary to contemplate a MVP app, a minimal viable product, that gets your foot in the door with some key features but doesn’t try to include everything from the previous release. This may mean keeping both the old and new products in the store until the features can be added. Of course this means maintaining two apps, one designed specifically for iOS 7 and one from the earlier generation that works on iOS 7.
- One thing is very clear though: apps not designed specifically for iOS 7 are going to look awkward and out of place. iOS 7 is a tremendous opportunity to re-think everything that came before.
I know I’m excited to dig into the code… once I can get a few of these other projects out of the way. Oh boy, that clock sure is ticking.