Should I support tablets?

A long time ago in a galaxy far away, in 2010 to be exact, Apple introduced iPad and it was game changer. Not long after that Samsung’s Galaxy Tab came and a lot of other Android tablets. Good ones and bad ones. Fast forward 6 years and tablets are heading towards extinction. Is that right? Let’s have a quick look.

Whole purpose of tablet was to use it to consume media, large screen was their biggest strenght. But there is variety of smartphones with large screens right now. That makes playing games, watching videos and reading quite comfortable. Customers are currently thinking: ‘Do I really need tablet as well? My iPhone 6s hardly fits into my pocket already’. Smartphones are killing tablets.

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No one could have predicted precisely how smartphones would evolve to be so useful and important they are in our lives right now. On the other hand, tablets were meant to be technological home for newspapers, books, magazines and even grocery flyers. Industries behind all those mentioned things were supposed to thrive thanks to new media infrastructure.

Reality turned out differently as pretty much always. Now everybody wants news immediately on their phones. Even typical tablet app like Flipboard are now focusing on smartphones.

So right now you might think that there is no need to support apps on tablets, that ‘tablets are dead’. Well, it’s of course hard to predict the future and there is no doubt that concept of tablets need revision. But there is also one thing that makes me believe that tablets will come back swinging eventually: it is predicted that in 2016 15,6% of global population will use tablet even though the sales are slowing down, mainly because people don’t change their tablets as often as smartphones. That’s over 1 billion of users, number that companies won’t forget about and will try to come up with solution.

Let’s remember that not everyone is happy with bigger phones – that’s why iPhone SE was introduced. Such people will consider using tablets. Apple and Android producer’s must rethink their approach. We shouldn’t give up on tablets when deciding which devices should be supported just yet.

Which Android and iOS versions should I support?

When developing a new mobile app it’s always good to take advantage of new technologies. Each new versions of Operating Systems give developers ability to do amazing things within our apps, but finding the balance between implementing new features while supporting existing user base is crucial.

 

Even the best solutions won’t bring good results if that means cutting out significant part of your audience. We’ve already described some things that are important when developing mobile app. Now let’s have a look at what you should keep in mind when it comes to decide which OS versions should you support.

Adoption rate

One of the most important things to consider is how fast users upgrade their OS to new version.

When it comes to iOS the adoption rate is really high. It’s because Apple controls both operating system and the hardware.

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95% of Apple devices are running on iOS 8 or 9

As a result upgrading to newer version of iOS is limited only by the age (capabilities) of device and the willingness of users.

Right now almost 80% of Apple devices are running on iOS 9 and only 5% on previous version than iOS 8.

To be able to reach over 90 % of users you need to support 4 OS versions

To be able to reach over 90 % of users you need to support 4 different OS versions

On the other hand number and variety of devices running on Android is very big so adoption rate is much lower when compared to iOS. Newest version (Marshmallow) is still on only 2% of devices. 90% runs either on Jelly Bean (ver. 4.1-4.3), KitKat (ver. 4.4) or Lollipop (ver. 5.0-5.1).

App Complexity

Another factor that might help decide which versions to support is complexity of your app. When following KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid) and not planning to use cutting edge technology because your product is fine without it, then you can easily choose to support older versions of OS as well. Some apps are perfect for being simple and sometimes doesn’t even require network connection.

Select your features

Luckily it is also possible to add capabilities that require newest OS versions and devices while keeping  your app running on older ones simply by filtering those capabilities out.

Development tools such as Xcode for iOS and Android SDK make it easier to do so thanks to automating all the little tasks you would have to perform in order to support various versions and devices.

Conclusion

The answer to question which iOS version to support is relatively easy: iOS 9 and 8 will be enough. From our experience you can’t go wrong with simply supporting iOS version from prior year.

When it comes to Android it will be wise to support three main ones: Jelly Bean, KitKat, Lollipop and the newest: Marshmallow.