A nice new feature announced at WWDC this year was phased releases. This is the new ability to be able to gradually release your app update to users over a period of 7 days. This has long been the envy of iOS developers looking over at their Android developer colleagues. Phased releases don’t quite have the same flexibility as the Android staged-rollouts but it is certainly much better than releases to potentially millions of users simultaneously.
So how does it work?
If you opt in to phased releases iTunes Connect will gradually release your new version to users who have opted into automatic updates over the period of 7 days. All users can still bypass this and go directly to the app store to download the new version if they chose. It ramps up as follows:
- Day 1: 1%
- Day 2: 2%
- Day 3: 5%
- Day 4: 10%
- Day 5: 20%
- Day 6: 50%
- Day 7: 100%
What if there’s an issue?
You can pause a release at any time for a total maximum paused time of 30 days. This is a cumulative number and doesn’t reset if you unpause and pause again. You can pull the app version from sale if there’s a critical problem you can’t fix, this will remove the app from the store though so it’s a last resort.
What if I want to release to everyone?
You’re free to cancel the phased release at any time and release to all users. From iTunes Connect you can simply press “Release to All Users”.
This sounds great, how do I opt in?
It’s really simple to opt in, and because it’s all managed for you so long as you have no issues it’s all hands off. There’s a new radio button in iTunes Connect, “Use phased release”. If you select that, that’s it! 🎉 This is a per-release feature so it’s up to you to decide if your release needs to go through this phased process.
How do I monitor the status of my release?
Again, from iTunes Connect. There’s a new view of phased releases that shows you what stage in the release you’re currently in.