Developing Perspective

#107: Adoption Rates and Reasons for Independence.


00:00:00   (upbeat music)

00:00:01   Hello and welcome to Developing Perspective.

00:00:03   Developing Perspective is a podcast

00:00:05   discussing news of note and iOS development,

00:00:07   Apple and the like.

00:00:08   I'm your host, David Smith.

00:00:09   I'm an independent iOS and Mac developer

00:00:11   based in Herndon, Virginia.

00:00:12   This is show number 107

00:00:14   and today is Wednesday, February 6th.

00:00:17   Developing Perspective is never longer than 15 minutes,

00:00:19   so let's get started.

00:00:20   So far off the bat, I just wanted to say a quick thank you

00:00:22   to all the people I met out in Mac world.

00:00:24   That was a pretty awesome time.

00:00:26   It was great to connect with a few listeners

00:00:27   and just generally people I met there.

00:00:29   That was a really fun time, and I'm glad to have had that.

00:00:32   And so I just wanted to mention that on the show.

00:00:34   And it was definitely special to me

00:00:36   to have people try and reach out and make sure

00:00:39   they can connect with me who listen to the show

00:00:40   on a regular basis and to hear the part that it plays

00:00:44   in their life and where they listened to it

00:00:45   and how they found it and so on.

00:00:47   So that was really cool.

00:00:48   Thanks.

00:00:49   All right, so I'll move into the actual topic now

00:00:51   and talk about the IRL of 2.

00:00:54   And the first one I want to talk about

00:00:55   is a slightly topical one.

00:00:57   And it deals with iOS versions.

00:00:59   And this is a topic that I've brought up many times

00:01:01   across the show.

00:01:03   I'm sure if you go back, I've talked about it probably,

00:01:05   I don't know, two or three times.

00:01:07   And it's something that always seems to be kind of coming up.

00:01:09   And with the official public release of iOS 6.1

00:01:14   about a week ago, it kind of is more timely again.

00:01:17   It's something to be thinking about and seeing

00:01:19   and looking at how that has worked

00:01:21   and how that impact that it's been having on iOS adoption

00:01:26   and what that can mean for us as developers.

00:01:28   And so basically looking through all my logs,

00:01:30   actually across all three of my apps, across audiobooks,

00:01:34   Check the Weather and audiobooks,

00:01:36   the iOS adoption is fairly similar,

00:01:40   which gives me some comfort.

00:01:41   And basically what I'm seeing right now is iOS 6.1,

00:01:45   after about a week, is about 50% of people,

00:01:48   which is astonishing that 50% of people

00:01:50   are on the latest version of an OS within about a week of it

00:01:54   being released, then about 20% of people, sometimes a little less, sometimes a little

00:01:58   more, depending on exactly the app, are still on iOS 5, with a potentially nominal amount

00:02:03   of people still on iOS 4.x.

00:02:06   Practically, at this point, the only version of iOS 4 that matters is iOS 4.3, because

00:02:12   that's the minimum version that you can easily support with a build that also supports iOS

00:02:17   6, given the new kind of changes in Xcode and the way the SDK builds.

00:02:20   So generally, at this point, it looks like iOS 4

00:02:23   should be dead to you.

00:02:24   You really don't need to worry about it too much.

00:02:26   If you don't have a compelling reason to take it out,

00:02:29   I always kind of struggle with that.

00:02:32   If you're doing an update that doesn't do anything

00:02:35   that would benefit from something in iOS,

00:02:39   from reducing something from iOS 4, then by all means,

00:02:42   don't feel like you need to take, sort of vindictively

00:02:45   or whatever, pull it out and remove support

00:02:47   from that customer.

00:02:48   But I think at this point, any new app for sure,

00:02:51   and certainly anything existing.

00:02:53   If anything in iOS 4 is holding you back,

00:02:56   it's a very small percentage.

00:02:57   It's maybe up to 2% or 3% of users I'm seeing.

00:03:00   And the reality is that vesting anything

00:03:02   that impacts your velocity, impacts your speed,

00:03:06   or your ability to deliver features,

00:03:07   or even your desire to deliver awesome features.

00:03:10   It's probably a good thing to just kind of take a step back

00:03:12   and pull that out.

00:03:14   The challenging part, though, for me is I'm looking at those

00:03:18   stats and trying to think about when I would be able to switch to iOS 6 exclusively. And

00:03:24   I think it's a little too soon for me, for the most part, especially for the apps that

00:03:28   have a fairly large established audience. And that's a very conservative approach. That's

00:03:33   not something that is necessarily needed. That is just the very conservative kind of,

00:03:39   it's a very conservative approach of not wanting to annoy my users for reasons that they don't

00:03:43   need to know about. For me, the biggest improvements in iOS 6, there's all kinds of cool stuff

00:03:50   that it does, but primarily the one thing that it does that is very, very helpful is

00:03:54   the ability to do attributed labels, which lets you do a lot more in terms of styling

00:03:58   and a lot of stuff that used to be really annoying and hard to do, you can now just

00:04:02   attribute a label and put that into your app and make things look better and adapt accordingly.

00:04:09   And that's one of the things that I would love to be able to do across all my apps and

00:04:12   all different places. The reality is what I've the approach I've taken for better or

00:04:16   worse is to just not attribute the text on iOS 5 and attribute it on iOS 6, which means

00:04:23   that the basically my UI's don't look as good on iOS 5. And I'm in consciousness making

00:04:30   a decision to do that, that I'm not going through the work that it would take to have

00:04:33   a similar exact UI on both platforms. Instead, I'm just saying iOS 6, which is the vast majority,

00:04:39   it's the 80% of people will have a nice beautiful experience. If

00:04:42   you're on an older device, if you're on running iOS five, or

00:04:45   whatever reason, you're still there, you're going to have a

00:04:47   look good, but you know, you're going to fold your italics or

00:04:50   emphasis is emphasis is in the same way. That's kind of how I've

00:04:54   taken it. And I think broadly speaking, that's a reasonable

00:04:57   approach. I think, whenever I think about it, I would rather

00:05:00   support a device or a very iOS version, in a way that is not

00:05:05   perfect, but sufficient, you know, and you don't want to make

00:05:07   it so that it's crashing, you don't want to make it obviously

00:05:09   so that it's new, hasn't diminished functionality. But if it's not as good in some ways, then

00:05:16   that seems like a better trade off to me than it being the me, then the me able to not run

00:05:21   that app at all on that platform. And you know, maybe you could make the argument that,

00:05:25   well, if we all start, you know, requiring iOS six, more and more people will move to

00:05:28   iOS six. And that may be true. I think the hardest part for that is, is specifically

00:05:34   right now is with the iPads and the way that it's a very complicated situation, I think,

00:05:40   that Apple finds themselves with dropping support for iOS 6 on the iPad 1. And the reason

00:05:47   for that, I say that is because cell phones, or iPhones in general, have a built-in refresh

00:05:53   model that roughly every two years people will update their iPhones. I think that's

00:05:59   a fair assertion, or at least it's likely that a substantial amount of people will.

00:06:04   And my version stats bear this out, they tend to be faster updating than they did on iPads.

00:06:11   iPads, however, have this feeling of being a personal computer.

00:06:14   And if you've seen anybody with an old, probably like five, six-year-old MacBook, you can realize

00:06:20   that people will hold onto those for much, much longer and expect to be able to be the

00:06:25   useful lifespan of it to be much longer.

00:06:27   part of that's coming from a higher price point, but also

00:06:29   just the way that people tend to react to that kind of a bigger,

00:06:33   more, it feels like a bigger, fuller computer. And so I don't

00:06:37   think that those first gen iPads are going to be going anywhere

00:06:40   anytime soon. They're not a huge percent of the market. I mean,

00:06:43   certainly they're not a, you know, it's not like they're,

00:06:48   they're a, the majority of users or anything like that. There

00:06:51   have been plenty of years and plenty of versions since then.

00:06:53   But because they're out there, and those users will never be

00:06:57   to be able to update.

00:06:58   It's going to be very difficult for me to pull off

00:07:02   dropping iOS 5, at least for a little while.

00:07:04   Maybe it's this fall would be where I could drop it off,

00:07:07   but I think for all my next updates, my new things,

00:07:10   it's going to be iOS 5 and up.

00:07:11   And generally, so far I've found that to not be

00:07:13   too constraining in most ways.

00:07:16   But I wish I could do better.

00:07:19   I wish iOS 6 worked on the iPad 1,

00:07:22   and I feel like that would have made

00:07:25   a dramatic impact on this.

00:07:26   But it is where we are.

00:07:27   And like I said, at the very least,

00:07:29   having 50% of people on the latest OS within about a week

00:07:32   of launching is fantastic and unprecedented as far as I know.

00:07:36   I mean, it's a great platform to be on in that way.

00:07:39   And I just have the reluctance to take full advantage

00:07:43   of that probably, maybe at my own detriment,

00:07:45   just because I feel like it's antagonistic to my customers,

00:07:48   which is the last thing I ever wanted to do.

00:07:50   The second topic I wanted to talk about a little bit

00:07:53   is a, first, it's probably just a recommendation,

00:07:57   and then a little bit of a discussion.

00:07:58   So first, as a recommendation,

00:08:00   if you're the kind of person who finds this show interesting,

00:08:03   if you are a independent iOS developer,

00:08:06   if you're someone in the iOS or Mac development areas,

00:08:08   the business side of that, whatever,

00:08:10   if you find this show useful,

00:08:11   I can strongly recommend the Identical Cousins podcast,

00:08:16   which is between Brent Simmons and Michael Simmons,

00:08:19   they talk about many of the same kind of things I talk about here. They talk about them in

00:08:25   different ways and in different levels. And it's a more traditional, hour-long-ish podcast.

00:08:32   But I can't recommend it enough. I've really been enjoying getting into it. And it covers

00:08:36   a lot of the more practical parts of making software, of doing it. And it's great to hear

00:08:44   from two guys who have been doing this for so long and have been consistently successful

00:08:50   for so long. And that's, I think, the key for when I hear them giving advice, it's rarely

00:08:56   advice that is coming from a place of speculation, which, in all honesty, sometimes that's where

00:09:02   I'm coming from. I haven't been doing this for long enough to have made all the mistakes

00:09:07   that someone who's been doing it for longer has. And so I certainly trust that a lot more.

00:09:12   And so I'd strongly recommend getting into that.

00:09:15   And especially, I'd recommend listening

00:09:18   to the most recent episode, where we're in Brent Simmons

00:09:21   announced that he was going to be going indie again.

00:09:23   And by that, I mean he is someone

00:09:25   who, if you've been around in iOS and Mac development

00:09:28   for any period of time, you'll know him.

00:09:30   He was the original author of--

00:09:32   I was like Mars Edit, NetNewswire,

00:09:34   recently of Glassboard, and is going back

00:09:37   to working on his own stuff again.

00:09:38   And as someone who does that professionally,

00:09:41   it's really exciting in the sense of there's just a certain amount of, I don't even know,

00:09:46   of justification or of encouragement that someone who's, you know, that that people

00:09:51   who are giving up potentially more, maybe like, you know, more, more stable things and

00:09:56   still feel like there's a lot of opportunity in the independent software market that there's,

00:10:00   it's not the kind of thing that's been overrun entirely by big companies, or you need a large,

00:10:04   but you know, large teams and large budgets in order to do interesting work. And the strongest

00:10:08   part of this. And this is an article linked to in the show notes, talking about where

00:10:12   Brent is talking about how he, why he made this decision and exactly sort of where he's

00:10:19   heading from here. And the big part that I resonated very strongly with me was that he

00:10:24   said he has two goals and why he's going independent again. And that's one, he wants to make great

00:10:31   software on his own. And two, he wants to make great software with other people. And

00:10:37   I think that's a fantastic summary of what it is to be an independent developer. And

00:10:44   if those two things aren't, aren't what you're aren't, what don't interest you aren't was

00:10:49   your core driver is, it's probably not for you. I get you know, I get contacted periodically

00:10:54   from people who are talking about going independent and kind of what that's like. And often I'll,

00:11:00   you can kind of get a sense of somebody who's coming at it from, they think that it's a

00:11:03   a way to make good money, it's a way to make a living, it's a way to cash in on an opportunity

00:11:10   created by a very whatever app store it is, or those types of things. And if those are

00:11:14   your motivations, they're perfectly reasonable and understandable things. I mean, it's a

00:11:18   perfectly valid thing to want to be well, you know, well compensated for the work you

00:11:22   do. I doubt that being an independent software developer, though, is for you. There's a lot

00:11:26   of headaches, there's a lot of challenges, there's a lot of parts to it that aren't necessarily

00:11:33   optimized when you're just one person by yourself doing independent work.

00:11:38   Or a very small team would probably have the same characteristics.

00:11:43   But being small and independent, what it allows you to do is you can focus almost entirely

00:11:49   on making great software.

00:11:52   Focus on quality, focus on building the products that you're proud of, focus on building the

00:11:58   things that you want exactly the way you want them.

00:12:01   You don't answer to anybody else.

00:12:02   have full responsibility for the consequences, both positive or negative, of what you build.

00:12:08   And so it is very, I find it to be very freeing in that way to be independent. There's nobody

00:12:13   else who I can blame, and there's no one else who can take credit. And that's really nice

00:12:18   in any on the plos on the pluses and minuses as things go. And then secondly, what is his

00:12:24   second point, which was interesting, because it's not something that I don't often think

00:12:27   about and something that I don't often emphasize when I think about why I do what I do and

00:12:32   how much I like what I do and those types of things is making great software with other

00:12:36   people. But it's interesting and true that I've probably worked with a more diverse group

00:12:41   of individuals since going independent than I ever did when I was had a corporate job.

00:12:46   Whenever I had a corporate job, I would tend to be in a team and I would work with that

00:12:49   team. And I would, you know, we would be you know, I've had some work with some great guys

00:12:55   and some great organizations. And the problem is, though, you tend to be not siloed necessarily,

00:13:00   but you work with the same group of people over time. You know, you're working in a project,

00:13:03   you're working in a team, you're working in a division, whatever it is, it's in it's narrow,

00:13:07   and that can be a great group of people. That group of people isn't very as often. Whereas

00:13:13   since been going independent, the number of times I've worked with different people seems

00:13:17   like it's constant. You're always working with a new designer, a new developer, you

00:13:21   If you do consulting, you'll be working with different teams,

00:13:23   you'll be working with different other developers,

00:13:26   if you're collaborating on a consulting project.

00:13:29   And the flexibility that that creates is great.

00:13:32   It means that you can experience such a variety of things.

00:13:36   And that variety, I think, really

00:13:37   enriches the experience that you have and the skills you have.

00:13:40   That every single person has something unique to teach you.

00:13:43   And by experiencing such a wide variety of people

00:13:46   and their skills, I think it ultimately

00:13:48   makes you substantially better as a result.

00:13:51   So I just couldn't you know, couldn't say it's like I

00:13:53   couldn't second that farther that stronger that if that's

00:13:55   kind of if you want to be independent, the best reasons

00:13:57   is because you want to make great software on your own that

00:14:00   you have this, you know, this individual drive and desire to

00:14:02   make awesome things. And that you want a varied group of

00:14:05   people who make awesome who have that same drive and

00:14:08   determination that you get to work with and you have that

00:14:10   privilege of learning from and improving from you know, from

00:14:13   that experience. Alright, that's it for today's show. As always,

00:14:16   if you have questions, comments, concerns or complaints, I'm on

00:14:19   Twitter @_davidsmith, AppNet @davidsmith, you can email me at david@developingperspective.com,

00:14:24   and otherwise I hope you have a great week, happy coding, and I'll talk to you later.