iOS7. Move now, or be an insta-delete.

by: dermdaly

We all know that iOS 7 is imminent. We’re into Beta 3, so we can make semi-accurate guesses on when the full version will get released. So to all of our clients, I’d say you may want to think about having your app updated to iOS 7 VERY SOON.


Who remembers when the iPhone 5 came out?
We briefed our clients. We said

“We should probably do some work on your app and make it utilise the 4-inch screen”.

Understandably, many of our clients wondered what benefit they’d derive. We were going to charge for the modifications; on first glance it could seem that we were just looking to get more fees out of them. We weren’t; we were actually giving them the correct advice.

The conversation kinda went like this:

“So what happens if we don’t modify it, will it run on an iPhone ?5”
“Oh yeah, it will run. Apple have this special ‘letterbox’ mode” (where we proceed to explain the letterboxing)
“Oh, that sounds fine let’s leave it so”
“Are you sure? because…” (where we explain letterboxing is kinda horrible)
“No, let’s just leave it”

So we did.

What happened when the iPhone 5 hit our shores?

Well, within days of having it, a letterboxed app was pretty much an insta-delete.

At that point, our clients came back with urgent requests to make their app 4-inch compatible.

I predict the iOS 7 effect will be worse. Within a week of running full time, those apps which haven’t been modernised to look like an iOS 7 app will look very old. They too will become insta-deletes.

If you have an app in the store, We’d highly recommend looking at modernising them pretty quick.

Stewart Curry suggested I also make reference to adoption rates. What we know is Apple users upgrade very quickly. When iOS 5 launched, it caused a massive worldwide spike in internet traffic. iOS 6 was launched just 9 months ago (at time of writing), and is currently on 94% of all iOS devices according to Apple’s figures (Unfortunately, this link is dynamic so will change over time. Trust me. When I wrote this, 94% was the figure).
So, don’t kid yourself it will only affect “power users”. Not being iOS 7 ready will affect “all users”

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  1. Joel Blackmore

    Whilst I completely agree with what you are saying, it would be made so much more powerful with any in-app analytics about DAUs going down when not updated to the latest design guidelines. ‘Insta-delete’ sounds great but I don’t think clients will take that too seriously without some numbers or cases.

    Great POV though – I think iOS 7 will be the biggest change. Read the UIKit changes – THAT will be the difference between loved and ‘insta-delete’.

  2. Dan

    One thing that’s worth mentioning is that iOS 7 is so slow as to be almost unusable on an iPhone 4S. If Apple goes through and allows these users to upgrade, I think it will hurt Apple more than it will hurt install rates iOS 7-optimized apps.

    Source: I’m a developer with a 4S/5/latest iPod Touch and have installed every version of the beta on these devices. The iPhone 5 and Touch run iOS 7 super smoothly. The 4S is a pain.

  3. Eric

    Absolutely. I’m running beta 3 on man iphone 4 (not sluggish at all btw, for Dan saying his 4s is slow) and I’ve already deleted apps. Fantastical? Gone. Just looks horrible on ios 7.

  4. OK?

    Dan, you’re a developer, and you’re complaining about performance in a very rough beta release of an extensive system overhaul?

    Either you’re not a developer, or you’re not a bright one. Its a BETA just over 1 month old with already 3 releases. Clearly, performance is not optimized yet, nor are the APIs and user interface. iOS 7 is VERY much a work-in-progress, more so than any other iOS beta in the past given just how extensive it is (and how QUICKLY it was done inside Apple, 9 months).

    For the record, the iPhone 5 does not run iOS 7 “super smoothly” like a final release. Its still very rough around the edges.

  5. antonio

    I have an iphone 4s too, and with beta 3 it is far from unusable…not only that, i saw a clear performance increase from beta 1 to beta 2 and from 2 to 3…so i´m not worried at all, when it reaches GM it will be fine, although it won´t run like on the iphone 5, of course…the extra ram helps alot

  6. Jaligard

    I’m on the other side of this. I’ve started reading the What’s New! description for App updates. Anything hinting about iOS 7 redesign doesn’t get updated. iOS 7 makes my eyes bleed — why would I want any app that matches it?

  7. Andy Baird

    “within days of having it, a letterboxed app was pretty much an insta-delete.”

    Such a claim is all the better for proof. Do you have any numbers to back this up? I’m not disagreeing with you; I’d just like to see some evidence.

  8. The Stig

    I’ve got Beta 3 on my iPhone 4 and it’s about as smooth as iOS 6 was. Beta 1 and 2 were a mess, but this one much better.

    My iPad 3 also runs well, which would lead me to believe that the dual-core iPhone 4S would be just fine on Beta 3.

  9. gfodor

    I don’t think this is as cut-and-dried as the author makes it out to be. Dead space on a large beautiful screen you just bought looks like a bug. Having legacy chrome, etc, will certainly make things look dated fairly quickly but it seems like an altogether different type of issue. I don’t think we can reliably say that users will have similar reactions or not, since the effect will not be as severe.

  10. Murat

    “Well, within days of having it, a letterboxed app was pretty much an insta-delete.”

    Broad statement which isn’t backed up with any numbers or any sort of valid argument. Can you show proof of deletes rates

  11. Craig Hunter

    What I am about to mention is obvious to experienced developers, but it seems to be going right over the head of many developers, and the public might not make the distinction. Heavily UIKit-based apps will surely benefit from an iOS 7 makeover. Some apps with a custom UI will benefit as well (many of them already look bad under iOS 6). But there are tons and tons of games and apps that have their own unique interface/look/theme/graphics/GUI for a reason, and can’t or shouldn’t be updated to the iOS 7 look.

    Don’t expect Angry Birds to toss their well known graphics in favor of some bland white outlines layered to use transparency just because Apple thinks it’s the new look. I don’t think Real Racing will be replacing their awesome 3D graphics with monochrome pictographs of cars rolling around an oval. And I sure don’t plan to change the graphics of my navigation and compass apps — take a look at the stock compass app in iOS 7 for an example of where Apple’s new design theme fails miserably and looks like garbage.

    So, I think there are a good selection of apps that will stay the course, or maybe go in entirely different directions, when iOS 7 hits the street. I doubt they will be insta-deletes, but they will certainly not blend in. And that’s the problem with the new iOS 7 look and feel — it’s not going to work for all apps. At least in iOS 6 and earlier, the look of the OS and UIKit didn’t clash so much with everything else. Now, we’re headed for a pretty stark divide.

    If you have developed a UIKit app, or an app with an interface that works with the new iOS 7 theme, awesome. That is not the case for all apps or all developers though. It’s too simplistic to think universally here.

  12. Rene

    Such a strange vague argument.

    Modernising doesn’t start and stop at ‘iOS7’. If you serious about your app, you’re updating it before, during and after iOS releases.

    If your app is looking as out of date as you propose, then it would look out of date today.

  13. therealcbone

    Is it your opinion that iOS users are so fickle and shallow that they would uninstall an app that was presumably acceptable before because it doesn’t look as “kewl” only in comparison?

  14. Martin Jensen

    I don’t think this is quite right.

    To me, it seems like you’re talking about form, not function. I experienced the issue with clients, apps and the iPhone 5 myself, and agree with you on that point.

    However, that was all about function. It gave the impression of an app that didn’t utilize the fancy new phone you got. Function-wise, not design-wise.
    We’re not talking about a new phone, but a new OS and design.

    It seems to me like your encouraging people to trow out their designs, and redesign their entire app to fit iOS7 white, blue and transparent look.

    I would suggest a “functional redesign”. Where gestures such as swipe to go back were implemented. And where conflicting gestures such as Spotify’s “drag from bottom” were looked at.

    You’re talking about looks. I think the function is much more important, and looked at.

  15. Lee F.

    Comparing a software update to a hardware launch is misleading. The reason people uninstalled 3.5″ apps on 4″ devices was because they instantly looked out of date on the new hardware whereas popular apps will look and work just fine with the OS update. Yes, companies should consider what the new OS has to offer and update their apps accordingly, but to suggest it’s “update your app now or die” is a bit dramatic and self-serving.

  16. Marc

    Great post – Interesting view, and I’m likely to act the same with the delete button.

    However, part of me thinks it might just be because we’re app developers, tech enthusiasts, or designers who care about this stuff. The fact that Android has such a great share of the market says to me that most consumers do not care about software design enough to stop using something if they don’t like it – look at Facebook or Snapchat on iOS, not exactly beautiful applications, but the underlying ideas are so great that people use them anyway. Time will tell I guess, and how we go about supporting both iOS6 and iOS7 in the months to come will also be a challenge.

  17. luisaraujo

    moving from a different screen size is alot different to an os UI overhaul – when your IN the app your still using it as you did before.. the only thing that will change is people adapting to using a minimal UI and that might take a bit more time then “insta-delete”

  18. jvic

    If there’s one thing we can learn from the iPhone 5 transition, is that all the “insta-delete” talk was highly exagerated.

    Many popular apps weren’t ready when iPhone 5 debuted and it wasn’t the end of the world.

  19. Scott

    If people are keeping/deleting apps based solely on how they look, how much value are those apps really delivering today in a pre-iOS7 world? I’d say not much.

  20. Virginia (The Heartographer)

    Do you have any suggestions for how to convince dinosaur clients about this sort of thing? I often find that data combined with explaining what letterboxing is and why it sucks STILL isn’t enough to truly win people over. Do you create visual aids? Employ any other psychological tricks? Just remind them of the whole iPhone 5 thing? 😉

    I imagine redesigning an app for the new look of iOS 7 is more in-depth and expensive than just optimizing for a new screen size. Curious to know what psychology you employ to indicate that it’s worth your client’s while (and funds) to get on it!

  21. Sterling Babcock

    Let me just provide a user perspective, if you do not mind.:

    * If I am looking for a twitter app, I may find 10 apps that can do it. I may glance at all of them, but I am likely to pass over ones that are not using the current OS/Screen as being ones that perhaps are not kept up to date. I am far more likely to look at apps that are using the current capabilities.

    * I get so many apps that I occasionally have to clean out unused apps. I may wait until a month or so AFTER a screen/iOS update, but at that time, I am likely to go delete apps which have not been updated, and go find a replacement for those things I need.

  22. Zav

    iOS 7 is simply hideous looking. It looks weak, overly bright, the grouped table view looks less understandable since a section separator looks like an empty row cell.

    The colors are overblown and garish.
    The buttons – that look like buttons – are often replaced with colored text AND THE COLOR CAN CHANGE PER APP!
    The icons are these hard to identify skinny outlines.
    Toggle buttons are BRIGHT GREEN.

    This is a garish and poorly conceived set of UI standards that we should rebel against. I can see people not using iOS because of it.

    As for how I personally feel, it irritates me with its overly white interface and garish, over-saturated colors. It makes me uncomfortable. I just want to put the device down and not use it. It’s horrible.


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