The most popular apps are an example of success in the mobile market, because they offer a unique function to their users. However, the manufacturers of mobile operating systems are also in a constant search for novel functions that can enhance their platforms.
This may mean that an app that offers a unique benefit to its target audience is in the situation that, after an update of the operative system, it has become obsolete because its function has been incorporated into the core of the system. Let’s see some examples.
3 examples of apps that became obsolete after an Android update
3G Watchdog is an app published during 2010 that keeps track of the amount of data consumed by the user’s mobile Internet connection. The app was configured based on the monthly data plan the user bought.
3G Watchdog offered a detailed record of the amount of data consumed during the month and the amount of data consumed by applications with Internet access.
This application became obsolete when Android incorporated a mobile data usage meter. It is located in Parameters > Wireless and Networks > Data Usage
Swype keyboard app
The Swype keyboard app was a very successful software that helped smartphone users to write faster. Instead of typing, the app allowed users to slide their finger on the keyboard: the app guessed the word that the user was trying to type through a dictionary.
The app was so successful that it began to be imitated by other applications and even by Google: the manufacturer of Android incorporated this function to its free GBoard keyboard.
The Swype market was reduced so much that, in February 2018, Nuance, the company that owns Swype, publicly announced that it would discontinue the app and won’t be available any more to be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play.
Cerberus anti theft app
Cerberus is an app to locate a lost or stolen phone. To do it, the app obtains the position of the device by connecting to a Wi-Fi network, mobile data and / or GPS.
Cerberus is an obsolete app because since a previous update Android brings Find My Device (previously called Android Device Manager) to help the user to locate the device.
What about iOS?
The new operating system of Apple, iOS 11 promises a whole series of novelties, from new voices for its assistant Siri, to applications of augmented reality and a redesigned App Store.
However, it will render obsolete a good number of 32-bit apps or that use old components.
And is that the new mobile platform will only work on phones and tablets with 64-bit architecture, which will also leave behind some models like the iPhone 5.
According to Apple, iOS 11 is “a giant step for the iPhone and a monumental leap for the iPad”.
The company has been advising developers to create 64-bit applications for years to take advantage of its new processor, which is much faster than the previous one.
Until now, those that did not support the new system could continue working, even if they were slower. But it will not be like that anymore.
The company has developed a feature that lets you know which apps you have on your phone that will no longer work with iOS 11.
The management of this issue by Apple, who said that for the creators of apps is relatively easy to create compatible versions of their products, has aroused some criticism.
“Two years is a very short period of time to become somewhat obsolete, even when everything moves so fast in the world of technology,” said Alan Woodward, professor of computer science at the University of Surrey, United Kingdom.
“What most vendors have done, and Microsoft is the great example of that, is keeping as many compatible things for as long as possible.”
“It would not have been too much work for iOS 11 to have continued supporting the 32 bits, so it is not hard to conclude that Apple is really trying to accelerate the pace and make people go with it.”
In March of last year, there were some 200,000 apps that could not be used with iOS 11, according to data from the Sensor Tower mobile app monitoring tool.
In August, the figure was still high: more than 180,000 are incompatible with 64 bits. The vast majority are games.
What to do if an iOS or Android update leaves my application obsolete?
If with an update these operating systems include a feature that your app offers, then you might be in trouble. It is hard but not impossible to convincing your target audience to stay true to your app, as long as you can offer new features and content that add much value to the user.
There is also another possibility to avoid this threat and is that your company doesn’t develop and exploits one only but several. Or use the captured data by one of the applications in the development of others. The best example to consider is Nuance, the developer of Swype.
This company withdrew from the keyboard apps market to focus on speech recognition and text-to-speech technologies for 2 specific markets: the car industry and the health workers. To recognize and successfully predict what the user is saying, Nuance has a valuable database thanks to the people who has used Swype for at least 7 years.