Is it time to drop support for iOS3?

It’s no secret there are a lot of really cool features and APIs you can take advantage of in iOS4 and iOS5 that are not available in iOS3. And while it’s definitely possible to maintain backwards compatibility by littering your code with version checks, it can quickly turn into a quality control nightmare.

On the other hand, dropping support means ignoring potential users or upsetting your existing ones. How many though?

Back in January 2011, it was reported that nearly 90% of their users had already made the switch to iOS4. As of last June, numbers indicated up to 95% had made the switch.

Surely by now only one or two lost souls are stuck on iOS3, right? And I’m sure they would forgive us if they couldn’t update to the latest version.

It surprised us when we took a look at the stats for ExploreMetro and saw numbers not as promising:

ExploreMetro by iOS version (click to enlarge)

iOS5: 5%
iOS4: 80%
iOS3: 15%
iOS2: 0%

About 15% of ExploreMetro’s users are still stuck on iOS3. That’s a lot more than we expected, and a lot more than we’d feel safe dropping support for.

Something to keep in mind, ExploreMetro may be a special case for a couple of reasons:

– Being a travel app, its users may be more casual and less technical. They may not update their devices as often as those who play games or are into social networking tools, or update them at all.

– It has a very large user base in China, and it’s no secret that in China many users jailbreak their devices. Since updating to newer iOS versions can be problematic, many users may not update iOS unless it’s necessary. Also, if you’ve ever tried downloading a 700 MB iOS update in China and been stuck in timeout hell due to a poor network connection, you can understand why even non-jailbroken device owners may hold off on updating or just not bother.

That said, is it time to drop support for iOS3? Ultimately, to make this decision you’ll need to factor in several

Yes, it is.

For new apps, it really doesn’t make sense to junk up your code with checks, create two different app experiences, or limit yourself (and your users) from using all the cool new features of newer iOS versions. I’ll also go out on a limb and assume that the handful of users still on iOS3 are probably not huge app purchasers.

For your existing apps and audience though? That’s tougher. We’re going to continue supporting it for now, but mark my words iOS3… your days are numbered!

Stephen Ceresia

Stephen Ceresia is Marketing Manager at ReignDesign. Stephen is from Canada and is currently based in Shanghai.

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