The Threat And The Opportunity Of iOS 7 For Developers


Spence, Ewan

June 15, 2013

With the new user interface, iOS7 is going to make Q4 2013 an interesting time to be a developer selling apps on Apple’s mobile devices. With the changes to the look and feel of the core experience, any third party application that does not update itself is going to have many users thinking ‘this app looks tired’.

While the functionality of an app written for older versions of iOS will still be available, the experience of switching back to the older UI form will be mentally jarring; the subtle touches that a UI can offer for guidance will not be on show; and the app will feel old and out of date, even if it still being maintained.

Bletchley Park’s Entropy Labs sums it up:

Remember what non-retina enabled Apps looked like when the iPhone 4 was released? Well, this has the potential to be worse – much worse. And remember when many people said that iPhone-only Apps would look “just fine” on the iPad when blown up to 2X scale. Yeah, that argument didn’t last long.

With a wealth of options in the App Store, I suspect that many users given two apps with the same functionality will choose the app that looks like iOS 7. And if that is a new app that’s going replace an app on their handset, then the switch will be made.

What a fantastic move on the part of Tim Cook’s Apple.

Technically they’ve avoided doing a compatibly break with the code base, but for any iOS application to stay relevant it’s going to have to be re-coded for the new UI. Because of that process these apps will look fresh and new to everyone using the. There will be some hold-out applications, but in the main the top tier applications that everyone will be exposed to will all have been updated in the six months leading up to Christmas.

Marco Ament lays out both the threat and the opportunity for developers:

Apple has set fire to iOS. Everything’s in flux. Those with the least to lose have the most to gain, because this fall, hundreds of millions of people will start demanding apps for a platform with thousands of old, stale players and not many new, nimble alternatives.

This is the moment that developers large and small should be ready for, because the income distribution is going to radically shift. Users will be ready to pay a switching cost (both financial and mental) with the arrival of iOS 7. This is a huge opportunity for developers looking to get into a new space in the App Store and make a name for themselves. Existing developers will want to hold on to their user base, and perhaps reboot many of their applications and start with a blank piece of paper.

Winter 2013 is going to be an exciting time for iOS, and while many are focused on the hardware and software coming from Apple, I’m more excited about the refresh that’s going to happen across the hundreds of thousands of apps that will need to be updated. Some developers will lose out, but the biggest winners, ultimately, will be the users, with new apps and updated apps all set to make the best use of iOS 7 as they can.

Who’s going to bring their A-game to the new platform?

30 Under 30: Games & Apps

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