As everybody upgrades to iOS 7, older iOS apps will crash more
While iOS 7 is a big change from past versions, 80% of users are still likely to switch within three months. Those who don't switch may run into more performance problems, as developers neglect older versions of their apps.
That's the conclusion drawn by Crittercism, a company which handles app performance management for many major app makers, including LinkedIn, Netflix, and Pinterest. Crittercism currently monitors more than 600 million individual app instances on phones and tablets, so it collects a lot of data about app performance. The company took a close look at its data from the last 12 months to try and predict what would happen as users switch to iOS 7.
First, the company found that iOS users switch to new OS versions much more quickly than Android users. Apple's strategy of unveiling new iOS versions at big shows -- WWDC and last week's iPhone 5S and 5C launch, in this case -- apparently gets users excited. It also helps that Apple makes new iOS versions readily available for older hardware, while Android updates are often trickled out unpredictably by carriers or hardware makers.
If users follow the pattern of iOS 6, Critterism says that 80% of them will have upgraded to iOS 7 by December. (Note that iOS 7 will work only on the iPhone 4, iPad 2, iPad mini, iPod Touch 5, and later models. Users with older devices are out of luck.)
Developers have adapted to the avid upgrade habits of Apple users, and this has an unfortunate side effect. As iOS developers focus energy and resources on building the new version of their apps, they are less likely to update old versions to fix performance issues.
That means older versions of iOS apps are crashing more often. Between January and August, Crittercism found that crash rates on iOS 6 and iOS 6.0.1 went up dramatically -- by 85% and 74% respectively. Chief Marketing Officer Kalyan Ramanthan told me that crash rates on average for all versions of iOS 6 went from around 0.75% to 1.5% during that time. The likely culprit? Apple released iOS 7 to developers in June, and so they diverted significant resources revamping their apps for the new version.
In other words, everybody else is going to upgrade, so you better follow along as well.
At least, that's the prediction. Ramanthan told me Crittercism is going to look at actual upgrade rates over the next few months and see how they compare with previous models.
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