Comply or die: iOS application release restrictions and their impact on developers

Mon 16 February 2015 Written by Ido Niv
Ido Niv


Apple’s been making changes in their app release protocols and developers who aren’t up to date on the move may find that it delays their product release schedule. Apple, as always, make their own rules and woe betide any that don’t comply.

The changes

From February 2014 and onwards, the Apple store will not accept any iOS 7 releases. That’s 1/3 of Apple’s user base with no further support unless they upgrade to iOS 8 or buy a new device.

This is a fairly typical move and one that, perhaps, should have been easy to see coming. Apple sees a big slice of its revenue in hardware and forcing an upgrade cycle is a fairly sensible commercial move to ensure that revenue for the near future.

The other change is that all apps must now be built with the iOS 8 SDK and they must include support for 64-bit use. You can use some default Xcode to change the standard architecture so that your binary supports both 32 and 64 bit use for the moment. That’s not really a particularly traumatic moment for developers and the changes involved for those developing for iOS 8 already are pretty minor.

Their way or the highway

Apple’s closed ecosystem makes changes like these pretty much a standard. While there is some reasonable outrage by developers over the lack of ongoing support for iOS 7 – it does free up Apple resources to concentrate on a single output platform and hopefully that might have an impact on the queue for reviews for new applications.

The average wait time for a review has been around 6 days over the last year and that’s probably a little longer than it needs to be. Mac developers only need to wait 4 days and given that these are business days we’re talking about… 6 days is actually slightly over a week. It would be nice to see that drop below a week for faster commercial releases.

Android developers will be celebrating the flexibility of their platform in light of these events and we can sympathize to some extent with that. The downside of unlimited flexibility though is that it usually comes at the expense of quality.

While Android developers can point to the fact that there are more apps on the Google store than on Apple’s – in general, feedback from users is that there are many more problematic applications on the Google store too.

All Apple developers need to be concerned with at the moment is addressing the specifics that are required of them by Apple. The migration from iOS 7 to iOS 8 is likely to be trickier than enabling 64 bit support. Unfortunately, these changes are now being enforced so failing to address the issue is going to hurt a developer’s business.

It’s always better to seek a little assistance if you’re having trouble wrapping your head around Apple’s requirements - because as previously mentioned, Apple aren’t likely to change these requirements now that they’ve put them in place. Get your compliance under control with or without assistance - or suffer the consequences, there's no other way to put it.