The Cliff Caused By Mobile App Requirements

My wife has an iPhone 4. It was getting sluggish, and she’s been taking a lot more pictures with the new kid, so it was getting even slower. Last weekend, I set out to figure what was going on. I updated her iCloud and backed up her data to her Air, and I also moved some photos and videos off her device to free up some memory. I then reset everything on the phone, restarted the phone, restored the media, and ran a diagnostic on what apps were crashing the most. The biggest culprit was Facebook, but also on the list was CNN, Mailbox, and a few others. I deleted those versions and reinstalled them on her phone. And, now it works fine.

What I realized through this process is that the pace of hardware and OS advancements are leading app builders to create apps (like Mailbox, which we love) to have deeper OS requirements, so deep that Mailbox can feel like a breeze on my iPhone 5 and a brick on my wife’s iPhone 4. What’s crazy about this to me is that the iPhone 4 is a terrific computer. When I jumped to the 4 from the 3, I was stunned. But, now, I think the jump from 4 to 5 is even bigger. Now, extrapolate from this and my conclusion is that the hardware innovation and app requirements are changing so fast that app builders are selecting to give the users with the latest and greatest hardware the best optimized experience, but the cost is a slower experience for even people who have iPhone 4’s.

Android is a whole different ball of wax — just from my work now I can hear the cries for apps on Android, and those users have to wait a long time for their apps to come. It’s lately been en vogue to suggest that the premium developers will start going Android first at some point, that it will tip over soon, but lately, that tipping point seems far off to me, not to mention the fact that Android users are less likely to update their OS systems. These all present developers and users will massive cliffs in experience and performance. It sounds like common knowledge, but if you don’t have the latest devices with the latest OSes, it’s stunning how sharp the cliff is.