iOS version [Legacy] support?


Hey all,

I haven’t finished the book yet or anything, I just wanted to get this question out of my mind as it has been bugging me a while. I am still new to iOS development, but I am really interested and love it so far.

What I would like to know is, as an iOS developer should I think about supporting older iOS versions? Those before version 4.x? Since I am new, and when I do write an app it will be completely new so should I just focus on newer iOS versions to be able to support newer features?

I guess I would like to know if Apple supplies information or statistics on the update rates of their OS. Do the majority of iPhone users actually update (if they can) very quickly? I would assume these new delta updates in iOS 5 will help with that greatly.


I don’t know if Apple (or anyone else) releases this kind of info regularly. In generally it only seems to come out during a press release as “bragging” about how wonderful a new version of something is selling. It’s certainly something that one needs to think about, but it’s been that way since the dawn of commercial computing. When any developer makes their compatability choice, it sees to come down to “do we hit fewer users now, to use new technology available, and assume/hope users will follow?”.

However, with iOS at least, you do know that a large part of your user base will defiantly have the newest release: those that buy the new hardware. Apple has made a habit of release new hardware and major iOS versions at the same time. iPhone 4s shipped with iOS4, and I’ll bet a box of donuts that iPhone 5s will ship with iOS 5. Add to the fact who the bulk of the iOS users are: non tech people; if their phone tells them they need to upgrade, they’re going to upgrade…I’m willing to bet that update rates are quite large for iOS devices.

All that being said, there’s the other side: why use “the new hotness” if you don’t need to? Just like a consumer, why update to windows Lion if Snow Leopard does everything you need? You can ask yourself the same question as a developer.

Do you need to think about what iOS versions you’re going to support? Yup, I think you do. But only you can answer it depending on what you’re trying to accomplish.