Appheaval

There are a few iOS apps that I still use every day, that I know, or have good reason to believe, won’t ever be updated. One of them still has a pre-iOS 7 design. This bothered me at first, but stopped being an issue over time1. An app that looks nice and works the way I want is, to me, still worth using even if it doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the OS.

A bigger issue is what features could these apps have added, had they still been under development for the past couple of years2. I’ve often considered building my own replacements for some these abandoned apps, but the improvements I could’ve made never quite seemed worth the time it’d require me putting in.

Until I got a new phone that scaled them to a non-native resolution.

In Fertile Ground, Marco Arment suggested the following side effect of the new iOS 7 design:

This fall, hundreds of millions of people will start demanding apps for a platform with thousands of old, stale players and not many new, nimble alternatives.

It’d be wrong to compare the new iPhone screen sizes, and the addition of iOS 8-only features like extensions, as comparable to iOS 7’s design overhaul. Rendering properly on the new screen sizes is as simple as adding a few new launch images3, and extensions, while wonderful, are hardly a hard requirement for most users.

But I still think that iOS 8 brings great opportunity for developers. Likely not for upstarts to rise up against entrenched incumbents, but enough for replacements to apps that’ve been abandoned but relegated as “still good enough” to finally be sought out. Replacements that actually look great on the latest iOS devices, and that hook into the operating system, where appropriate.

I still don’t know if I’ll have the free time to start tackling some of the apps I’ve long wanted to build anytime soon, some which would undoubtedly be large commitments. But the iPhone 6 and iOS 8 have, without question, pushed me closer to doing so then I’ve ever been before.


  1. Especially during the iOS 8 betas, when they no longer displayed the iOS 6 keyboard and were still rendered at the proper resolution for my iPhone 5S. 

  2. iOS 8 only exacerbates this by adding the possibility of extensions. 

  3. Yes, your app actually needs to scale up to fit the new sizes, but this isn’t nearly as much work as redesigning your entire interface.