By Steven Grady
Apple set the mobile world on fire with the unveiling of iOS 7, considered by many to be one of the most wide-reaching updates in iOS history. It’s clear that this will provide a powerful and robust platform for hundreds of millions of users around the world — and in a few short weeks, they will be delighted by the thousands of apps that will hit the App Store with a nice iOS 7-friendly facelift.
But for mobile application developers, a new version of iOS means work. But where to begin?
While there are many paths to success on iOS 7, we’d like to discuss five things you definitely need to avoid as you set out for mobile app supremacy.
No-brainer, right? But with this iOS release, you need some new tricks up your sleeve to make the QA process smoother. Test Navigator in Xcode 5 makes testing easier than ever and helps you create, edit, and run your unit tests. A single click can run individual tests, or a selected group and the Assistant editor provides new test-specific categories that automatically place your tests and application code side by side. New debug gauges in Xcode 5 show resource consumption data at a glance, including CPU, memory, energy use, iCloud, and OpenGL ES and alerts you to an otherwise hidden problem long before your users see it.
2. iOS 6 design
Apple rebuilt iOS 7 to look, feel, and work in an entirely new way — and because the design differences between iOS 6 and iOS 7 are so stark, keeping an old iOS 6 design does more than make your app look clunky, it risks turning your customers off. Just as iPhone apps had to be redesigned to work seamlessly with iPad and then the retina display, you’ll need to reevaluate what your app can offer iOS 7 users. It’s important to make sure that your app content is discernible through translucent UI elements and adheres to new dynamic text sizing. Examine your app for hard-coded UI value and take time to look at UIKit.
3. Poor timing
Timing is everything. Soon, the world will be demanding apps that look as though they were made exclusively for iOS 7 and if you’re nimble, you’ll be able to take advantage of this opportunity in a way that larger, more established apps cannot. Users flocked to apps that were quick to accommodate the larger iPhone 5 screen because everything else (their laggard competitors) instantly felt dated. Treat the release of iOS 7 as an opportunity to provide your mobile users with a brand new experience and don’t wait until it’s too late. Your app doesn’t need to be perfect; iterate quickly and often after it’s released.
4. App Store rejection
We all know that Apple has a rigorous approvals process, so don’t delay your launch by ignoring the things that Apple has unequivocally said that every app must do in order to be ready for iOS 7. Neglect them and you’re likely to get rejected.
- Update the app icon. In iOS 7, app icons are 120 x 120 pixels (high resolution).
- Update the launch image to include the status bar area if it doesn’t already do so.
- Support Retina display and iPhone 5 in all your artwork and designs, if you’re not already doing so.
5. Poor communication with users
Bugs are unavoidable, but poor communication isn’t. You’re likely to be making some significant changes to the look and feel of your app and if users can’t figure out how to use your new iOS 7-friendly version, they may abandon it. Provide users with a quick-start guide and tutorials to walk them through major changes. It’s important to offer users a way to find answers to common questions before they get frustrated and contact support — or abandon the app altogether.
- If you have an email list of your users, send them an email with information about the update and include user guides if necessary.
- If you use Helpshift, add a new FAQ for iOS 7 in a section called IMPORTANT MESSAGES or ANNOUNCEMENTS explaining the changes. With this functionality you can also include screen grabs to depict exactly what’s been updated.
- If needed, bring your support email link right to the forefront of your app
As you develop your app, keep these five things in mind to avoid and you’ll be prepared for a much stronger launch. And don’t forget to sign up to get your free copy of the Ultimate iOS 7 Update Guide, which will be available in August.
If there’s anything else we missed, share below and help your fellow app developers get a handle on iOS 7.