What is All the Hype About?
In the words of Apple’s own marketing team “iOS 11 sets a new standard for what is already the world’s most advanced mobile operating system. It makes iPhone better than before. It makes iPad more capable than ever. And now it opens up both to amazing possibilities for augmented reality in games and apps. With iOS 11, iPhone and iPad are the most powerful, personal, and intelligent devices they’ve ever been.” Unfortunately for a lot of owners of mobile apps, as well as owners of older Apple devices, this ‘new standard’ means it’s time to spend some money to make sure your gear works. Essentially every iOS update brings pro’s and con’s, but this time there is a very large paradigm shift that has ramifications across the board.
What Are the Issues?
1. Goodbye iPhone 5, iPhone 5C, iPad 4th Generation
Apple deserves credit for the length of its iOS device support, but with every new iOS generation older iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch are cut free. This time it’s the turn of 2012’s iPhone 5, iPad 4th generation and 2013’s iPhone 5C. Millions of users around still use these devices and will be disappointed to see their support end, but with the likes of Google only promising two years of Android upgrades even for its Pixel range (come on Google!) they have had a good run.
2. Legacy Apps And Support Cut Off
Apple pins the end of iPhone 5, iPhone 5C and iPad 4th gen support on the fact all three have 32-bit processors (the Apple A6 chip) and 64-bit is the future (it is). Well iOS 11 will also apply this logic to all 32-bit apps in the App Store. Not only are 32-bit apps being canned, Apple won’t even allow users of newer iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch to use them when restoring devices. So if your iPhone 7 still uses a beloved legacy 32-bit app then know if you ever restore or replace/upgrade your iPhone in future the app will be missing. This is the price of progress and, if you are affected, you should blame lazy app developers not Apple. On the plus side, dropping 32-bit legacy support in iOS will allow Apple to reallocate those resources elsewhere.
3. Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Vimeo Integration Cancelled
For me this is the big one. Spotted by venture capitalist Sean Cook, users will no longer be able to log into third-party apps using a social media account. This has become hugely popular over the years. For example, do you use Facebook to login to Spotify, WhatsApp, Ticketfly or OpenTable? Tough. This is a strange - and frustrating - move by Apple. Twitter integration has been part of iOS for six years since iOS 5 in 2011, Facebook support was added in 2012 (iOS 6) and Flickr and Vimeo in 2013 (iOS 7). Now it looks like users will have to rely on logging in via a web browser and then being redirected to the third party app. The hope is Apple has something still planned for iOS 11 to make up for this bizarre omission. Perhaps some sort of Apple ID-based password manager? Right now the company remains cryptic and it is hard to see how this is a decision made to benefit users, rather than Apple looking for yet another piece of the puzzle to control.
What Does iOS 11 Mean for Developers?
In short - a lot. In many ways, being a mobile app developer requires you to service two different masters at the same time – both the end users who you built your app for in the first place AND the manufacturers of the devices they’ll be using them on. In Apple’s case, they’ve recently announced a fairly significant change to the iOS platform moving forward. Starting with iOS 11 in September of 2017, the operating system will be 64 bit only. If the current version of your mobile app only offers support for older, 32 bit version of iOS, this means that there are a number of hugely important things you’ll need to keep in mind.
64 Bit Only: The Immediate Ramifications. In the short-term, users will already have begun to receive notices that 32 bit iOS apps need to be updated by their developer in order to remain compatible once iOS 11 is officially released. The message that pops up on screen not only confirms that the current version of a particular app will no longer work in future versions of the operating system, but also that the onus is on the developer to make the change and improve its compatibility.
What Does iOS 11 Mean for Companies with Apps?
This issue is two-fold. First mobile app developers must look to the future when working with their client projects, in some cases almost having to try and predict the future. This is troublesome but not altogether impossible because if the code is planned properly and supported after launch, making adjustments can be mostly minimal. Second is the hardware issue, i.e. the devices that run iOS. Though the iPhone has been around for a decade, 64 bit support first premiered with the iPhone 5s. It was only in February 2015 that Apple required all new apps to offer 64 bit support – the same requirement was not true for apps already in existence at that time. This means that if your users have a device older than the iPhone 5, they’re not going to be able to update to iOS 11 at all. Reports are unclear about whether or not they’ll even be able to update to the upcoming iOS 10.3. This presents mobile app developers in particular with something of a conundrum – how do you keep up to date with Apple’s ongoing requirements while still offering legacy support to people with older phones?
The answer to that question, unfortunately, is one that will need to be handled on a case-by-case basis. One thing is clear – Apple is very serious about these upcoming changes. Apple has already begun to remove “problematic and abandoned apps” from the App Store in recent months – approximately 50,000 of them have reportedly disappeared since the initiative began. It’s easy to see a situation where if you don’t update your mobile app to include 64 bit support by iOS 11’s launch this past September, it could be one of the 187,000+ apps that are predicted to be removed after that time.
Are You Prepared?
Envoc stands ready with cutting edge talent and innovative thinking to plan and implement a comprehensive plan that will keep your mobile apps running smoothly for many years to come.
For more information on ways that Envoc can help your organization, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org today or visit our website at www.envoc.com to learn more.