When to drop iOS 8

Around this time of year with WWDC around the corner and the inevitable launch of a new version of iOS, I like to take the time to prepare my arguments for dropping support for the penultimate version of iOS. This year it’s iOS 8, last year it was iOS 7, next year no doubt it will be iOS 9.

Let’s start with some numbers. Everyone loves numbers.

At the time of writing: iOS 6 has 0.2% market share, iOS 7 has 2.16%, iOS 8 has 7.82% and iOS 9 has 89.73% using MixPanel as a reference.

Market Share of iOS According to Mixpanel

On the Apple Developer web site we see that iOS 9 has 84% share, iOS 8 has 11% and other versions have a market share of 5% for all App Store visits.

App Store Visits By iOS Version

What else do we know? I assume iOS 10 will be announced at WWDC in June and released around mid-September in line with the release dates of iOS 6, 7, 8 and 9.

I want to drop support for iOS 8 January 2017. My reasoning for this is that it will hold back adoption of new iOS features, make the number of devices I need in stock for testing increase, my code will be more difficult to maintain, and potentially there will be more bugs in my code.

How can I convince my company that this is the right course of action? Let’s look at past adoption rates of iOS. From September 1st of release year to May 1st the next year.

iOS9 Adoption:

iOS8 Adoption:

iOS7 Adoption:

iOS 9 and iOS 7 both reached 80% market share by January and 90% by May. iOS 8 reached around 70% by January and 83% by May. Those adoption figures are awesome by any standard.

For iOS 9 Apple did a couple of things to improve adoption rates. First they kept support for the iPhone 4s. Also iOS 9 had a smaller install size and they implemented some cool voodoo that deleted your apps and restored them so if you had absolutely no space you could upgrade.

Now as good as those figures are for adoption rates the most interesting figures are for the number of phones not on the latest two releases. After iOS 9’s release iOS 7 has 5.17% of the market come January. After iOS 8’s release iOS 6 was on 2.43% by January. I don’t have the figure for iOS 5 after the release of iOS 7 but iOS 6 was 15.53% and other OS’s were 2.78% of the market by January.

For me the golden figure is 5%. Once it drops below that I think the number of customers outweighs the development and support overhead for my app and my company.

But caveat emptor. What are the potential reasons for supporting iOS 8? You need to take in to account your customer base. You’ll need to look over your stats and see how many customers you have on iOS 8. For example 5% of nothing is nothing, 5% of 10,000 isn’t too much (I can live with that), but 5% at Facebook’s MAU is a mind boggling amount.

Also you need to look at download numbers. Are you getting new users with iOS 8 on a daily basis or is it only existing users? Are iOS 8 users updating your app? With those figures bear in mind that when you drop support for iOS 8 you aren’t removing your current iOS 8 user base, you’re just not supporting them for new features, bug fixing and upgrades.

This means that those customers are still making you money and not holding you back if you drop iOS 8. The caveat here is that if there is a a bug on the iOS 8 version of your app you can’t fix it, but if it only effects 0.1% of 2% of your customers then YOLO.

With all these amazing figures and numbers and percentages you should now be able to decide if and when you can drop iOS 8.