According to Apple, iOS 6 adoption is at 93%, largely thanks to the benefit of a limited device range, a closed ecosystem and a keen fanbase. But will iOS 7 polarize these happy users and create a rift?
Talking to the Developers
Keeping up some momentum from WWDC, Apple has quietly slipped out some new features for Apple TV and is now heralding its prowess in getting users to update their iPhones and iPads. While the casual user base might not care much about what version of an OS they are using, developers will lap up any opportunity to focus on the app, not the compatibility testing. Apple's figures of 93% iOS 6 use, 5% iOS 5 and 1% other will help developers using Apple's mobile operating system to focus their attention on the creative process.
No matter how much help can be offered by automated by services like Android Compatibility Testing, freely available for Android, the issue is still something that can get in the way of a project. With Google's figures suggesting the most popular version of Android is still Gingerbread (Android 2.3), some developers may only now be implementing features found in Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0) or may be concerned about starting projects for the upcoming Key Lime Pie (5.0).
A Split in the Herd?
However, by trumpeting these numbers in the wake of the usual hysterical press over-reaction to iOS 7's unveiling at WWDC, Apple risks highlighting any future diversion from its grand plan. When iOS 7 is released, there could be an undercurrent of users happy to keep their familiar iOS 6 look-and-feel, rather than migrate to Apple's new (something borrowed, something blue) theme.
Quite how much of a split would translate into something to be worried about remains to be seen, but if more than 15% of Apple iPhone and iPad users stick with the old ways, Apple won't be likely to go shouting that number too loud. Naturally, huge numbers of users will update on the day of release (servers allowing) and then the barrage of praise or abuse will start all over again.
With iOS 7 still in beta, Apple has the time to change the things users don't like, hopefully a range of color themes will placate those with an aversion to blue, and a shape selection for those who dislike bubbles.
As for the new features (however inspired by or borrowed from other apps and systems they may be), Apple users will doubtless welcome them, but should take them as a sign that mobile innovation is increasingly tough, with future expectations needing to be set lower.