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At the time of writing, iOS 6 has been available for about 3 months.

In the proposal-phase of a new iOS project, the client asks for backwards compatibility of the app involved, all the way back to iOS 4.0. With the current timeline this app is scheduled to be launched in september 2013, close to the probable release of the next iOS version (most likely 7.0).

My gut tells me it's ridiculous to support iOS 4.0, and senseless to support iOS 5.0 for this project. By september 2013 the majority of all app-savvy iOS users will either own an iOS-6-only device (like iPhone 5, iPad 4/mini) or will have upgraded to the latest iOS version. In addition to the statistics, I have the feeling that the people left on prior iOS versions will probably not be on the prowl for the latest and greatest apps anyway, therefore not of interest to the client.

However, these are guesses at best, and I'm having difficulty backing up my guesses with solid references by authoritative sources.

Do you know of authoritative sources (like Apple or major app studios) voicing their opinion on backwards compatibility for iOS and could you provide one or more links?

I'll award the most authoritative question with the 'correct answer' check mark.

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closed as off topic by Eric King, Michael Kohne, Glenn Nelson, Walter, JeffO Jan 17 '13 at 19:18

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Expecting people to upgrade everything quickly (or, to be frank, at all) is not reasonable. We all know that each upgrade takes it's toll in performance and usability of older devices, and not everyone has deep enough pockets to buy each and every new device. –  Michael Kohne Jan 17 '13 at 17:54
    
Duplicate of several stack overflow questions: 10469175 5291823 –  Michael Kohne Jan 17 '13 at 17:58
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@GlenH7 - sorry, I hit return at the wrong moment and it took a bit to edit. –  Michael Kohne Jan 17 '13 at 18:00
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@MichaelKohne The first link is about an actual number, and the second one while closer is looking for a percentage breakdown of devices and is almost two years old. While there maybe a duplicate on SO neither of the questions you present are duplicates. –  Joe Tyman Jan 17 '13 at 18:20
    
I posted this here because it didn't fit on stackoverflow, but I do think the question is legit. Any suggestions what to change, to have this question become not-off-topic? –  epologee Jan 20 '13 at 18:18
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2 Answers 2

Well that adoption rate of iOS 6 is enough to tell you to focus your resources there.

With in a month of launch 2/3rds of devices upgraded. (source)

After Google Maps was release the number soar. (source)

I don't think either of these sources are authoritative but Apple's documentation only supports the current iOS.

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If you look at this article, you can see the percentage of iOS users running each of these OS versions as of one month after iOS 6 was released. It's probably a safe guess that the percentageof users running the latest version has increased some since then, though users who were still using iOS 4 two months ago are unlikely to have upgraded since then, unless they bought a new device.

Based on this spread, you can have a meaningful discussion with the client as to the tradeoffs involved -- tell them how much extra effort is involved to support iOS 4, then show them that at best this extra effort would get them exposure to only 9% of all iOS users. Show them the (smaller) amount of effort involved in supporting iOS 5, and keep in mind that going from 61% to 86% of all iOS users may in fact be worth that effort to them.

Most of all, go into the discussion with a clear picture of what it will cost them to support each older version -- depending on your relationship with them, this may be a question of time, or a fixed cost you will charge them. Then, they can weigh this cost against what supporting that version will buy them.

Good luck!

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