Apples Developer relationships have hit another sour note. At the company’s hardware event on Tuesday, at which new Apple Watch devices and iPads were announced, Apple surprised developers with the news that the updated versions of the major software platforms iOS 14, iPad OS 14, watchOS 14 and tvOS will be released 14 on September 16, so they have less than a day to prepare.
The unexpected and accelerated timeline has led many developers to prepare their apps for app review and has complicated developers’ plans for iOS 14 launch day.
Some, like popular podcast player Overcast, have merely informed its users that the planned iOS 14 features will not be available.
Others are less forgiving, noting that Apple’s decision to release iOS 14 with no loops to the developer community, as developer Steve Troughton-Smith put it, added “a lot of unnecessary stress for developers in an otherwise stressful year.”
In addition, Apple’s decision affects those developers waiting to endorse iOS 14.
Typically, developers often use an iOS launch day to promote the new features of their apps through press releases, blog posts, and social media. Reporting from app review sites may even include summaries of notable updates for favorite apps, or highlight those apps that have made interesting use of the new iOS features.
Instead, the developer community can not worry about the hunt for press and awards this year, as they now have to prepare their app ahead of time for the iOS 14 update.
Consumers may also be affected by the surprise release as some app makers warn users that their apps may not work properly on the updated operating system until they have been updated for compatibility reasons. A well-known example is Nintendo, who tweeted that their game Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp stopped working after the update and asked users to wait before moving to iOS 14.
However, iPhone owners quickly update their software to the latest version. Ahead of the Apple developer conference this summer, Apple released new iOS numbers, showing that the iOS 13 operating system, first unveiled in September 2019, was installed on 91% of all iPhones released in the past 4 years and on 81% of all iPhones compatible iPhones.
This means that iOS developers have little time to update their apps before the majority of iOS users switch to the new version.
This latest gaffe follows months of rejections on Apple’s App Store that even led to a huge explosion between Apple and Basecamp over the modern Hey email app, which was rejected due to in-app purchase rules. Apple’s heightened awareness of potential in-app purchase losses also resulted in the WordPress app being rejected at some point, forcing the company to rarely apologize after a public tender.
Now Apple is fighting in court with Fortnite maker Epic Games for Apple’s right to commission Epic’s business if there is no other way to address the iPhone market outside of Apple’s App Store. A company as large as Epic doesn’t have to rely on the services Apple offers, such as distribution and Apple Pay, but is forced to do so by Apple’s terms and conditions.
Developers have also taken note of how Apple describes its App Store business in its court records, labeling it as something developers “benefit” from – a phrase that rubbed some developers in the wrong direction. After all, people buy iPhone for a number of reasons, but the ability to run apps is high among them.
Developers have also watched Apple attempt to remove Epic’s Apple Developer accounts, including accounts for its associated game development platform, Unity, as well as Epic’s ability to “sign in to Apple” assist its users. These hardball tactics from Apple made it clear to developers that Apple is ready and willing to use developers’ reliance on Apple’s tools to punish developers who step out of line.
In addition, Apple was the focus of antitrust investigations into its App Store business, which showed the company was closing special offers despite claims the App Store was “a balanced playing field.”
Recently, Apple updated its App Store rules to better formulate the terms of commissions and find a way for new game streaming services to join the App Store. The result, however, is that the rules have become so complex that some developers are confused about what is allowed.
In addition to this growing increase in resentment against developers, Apple brought the next day’s release of iOS 14 to a developer community who, like everyone else, is trying to function during the coronavirus pandemic – a crisis has completely changed people’s everyday lives. Many developers are now working remotely, teaching children at home. You can be directly affected by COVID-19, possibly in sick family members.
Apple has not explained to the public or the developers the reason for the decision to launch the surprise launch.