updated 12:48 am EDT, Wed July 3, 2013
App makers appear keen to redress apps to match iOS 7's 'look'
Mobile web advertising and optimizing company Onswipe is reporting that interest in the iOS 7 beta is growing at a furious pace, with three quarters of a percent of the iPhone user base already running the software in beta. The figures represents at a minimum more than two million iPhones, far higher than those running the iOS 6 beta at the same point in its development cycle. While some of that figure may be users who have pirated the (notoriously unstable and buggy) beta, most is believed to be developers who need to match their apps to iOS 7's new look.
The changes in iOS 7 go deeper than just the distinctive, flatter icon style seen in publicity shots: apps are expected to carry that design language through the program, tie into matching services provided by the OS itself (such as the translucent "frosted glass" panel look) and add features and other changes in how services are implemented in iOS 7, which were detailed during sessions at the Worldwide Developers Conference last month (developers who couldn't attend can download videos of the sessions).
Mobile ad agency and analyst Chitika reported just over two weeks ago that 0.22 percent of the US iPhone base were already running iOS 7; with the figure now at 0.77 percent, the recently-released second beta of iOS 7 has sparked some three times more interest among developers and other testers: iPads, which couldn't run the first beta at all, already show 0.28 percent of that base running iOS 7 after only a week. In total, iOS 7 accounts for 0.46 percent of total mobile traffic monitored by Onswipe; this time last year, only half as many users were testing the iOS 6 beta.
Both companies believe that the increase in usage numbers means that developers are working diligently against a tight deadline to update apps to all the new designs and standards. Apple has already promised that iOS 7 will be out in the fall, and by that it generally means late September -- less than three months away. Another factor is the continuing growth of the iOS developer pool, which has exploded in recent years. Apple's WWDC sells out in seconds, and there is considerable call for Apple to do more than occasional "developer roadshow" demos in order to bring Apple engineers to more of the countries where the most iOS development is going on outside the US.
Apple has exacerbated this "problem" by allowing developers to register for the iOS beta program (and the other benefits of being a registered developer, such as selling in the iOS App Store) for only $99 per year. Some advanced and corporate users have been known to pay the annual fee simply to get the early access, even if they don't intend to develop their own apps.
It is also expected that the release of iOS 7 will be accompanied by new hardware, meaning a buying frenzy that is likely timed to hit just before the holiday buying season. For that reason alone, developers will want to polish their new and updating apps to leverage Apple's new features and changes in iOS 7 to ride the coattails of millions of new and upgrading buyers.