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iOS 7: Managing the rapid pace of mobile operating system upgrades

Read Accenture’s report about the steps companies need to take when modifying their apps for the new iOS 7 operating system.​

Overview

The market for mobile operating systems moves at blinding speeds. While upgrades to desktop operating systems take place over years, the mobile world marches to a different beat with hardly a month going past without a major version change to one of the main mobile platforms.

Background
For example, within six days of the release of Apple’s iOS 7 on 20 September 2013, 50 per cent of the operating system’s users had upgraded. By the end of the calendar year, we expect this number to have risen to over 85 per cent. This dynamic presents a significant challenge to owners of branded apps: if you don’t quickly adapt to the latest operating systems, you run the risk of alienating those who have upgraded and if you don’t maintain your apps across legacy systems, you’ll risk alienating those who don’t upgrade to new platforms.

Analysis

One of the key challenges in mobility today is how to maintain the customer’s experience of using an app during upgrades to iOS, Android and Microsoft platforms, as well as the ever-increasing range of form factors.

For example, iOS 7 represents the most significant overhaul of Apple’s operating system to date. It contains a host of new features including a revamped interface, translucent design elements and additional swipe controls.

If your company hasn’t updated its consumer and enterprise-focused apps for iOS 7, now is the time to act. In our view, there are three key steps companies need to take when modifying their apps for the new operating system:

  • Review and test existing apps to ensure all functions operate as intended in the new operating system, and that there are no unexpected issues for users. Accenture has seen a significant number of apps fail when moving to this new upgrade particularly as enterprise apps are not always tested at the same level as their desktop counterparts.

  • Overhaul the user interface to align with the new look and feel of iOS 7, which is simpler, flatter and borderless.

  • Ensure apps take advantage of iOS 7’s new and improved features. For example, the control centre presents a new interaction method, as do gesture controls and fingerprint recognition.

If your company doesn’t move quickly, you risk users being unable to access the full functionality of your apps in the context of the new operating system. In the new look and feel from Apple, apps can quickly look tired and old, hampering your brand’s intent.

Recommendations

As mobile devices become more prevalent, companies need to be as ready as possible for future upgrades to operating systems across multiple devices. This ongoing treadmill of managing the customer experience across upgrades is the new normal and companies need to be able to execute this quickly, seamlessly and repeatedly.

For instance, when Apple next upgrades its operating system, companies will need to ensure their apps function effectively across five iPhone models, three iPad models and the iPod touch. The next Android operating system upgrade will also need to be used across a wide range of devices. Operating system creators provide companies with details of new features and requirements of operating system upgrades. For example, Apple produces a Transition Guide.

Whether companies provide apps for iOS, Android or Windows phones, they need to do so in a way that keeps their apps relevant and easy-to-use. In our view, this focus on maintaining the experience across these platforms is going to be one of the main functions for mobility professionals, presenting a maintenance challenge few organisations are typically geared up to support.

Accenture is helping businesses around the world manage operating system upgrades across multiple platforms. We bring together leading experts – including application architects, user experience and interface designers, test automation experts and engineers – to help you develop high-quality apps that can be rapidly deployed.