iOS Compatibility

Welcome iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

See this concept map which shows the iOS versions in relation to all iPhone models on which they can be installed.

Just look at the iOS version and count the number of outgoing arrows.

It starts with compatibility to 2 models. Since iOS 6 the installation on the actual model and 3 predecessors is supported. With iOS 7 and 8 Apple's mobile OS is ready to install on 5 models.

It needs enormous efforts to bring hardware and software engineers together to look into the future and design hardware components usable also for future versions of an OS.

Competitors show us that the alternative way is to build devices regardless what happens with newer versions of the OS.

According to a scary graphic for Android users published by Business Insider in Aug 2014 there are 18,796 unique devices running the Android OS. That fragmentation is tough on developers. It's too difficult to make sure that an app runs well on each device. It's one of the reasons why Android has severe disadvantages for customers using their device over years. The issue gets thornier if you look at the OS versions Android devices are running today. Many of them are still running Gingerbread (2.3), a version launched 4 years ago!
In contrast to Android about 91% of iOS devices are running the latest version (7.x) and it's most likely that a significant percentage of devices will be updated to iOS 8 on the first day of its launch.

It's a vicious circle to always buy a new (subsidized) device to get the latest OS version. Fragmentation is what developers and customers don't like because it hampers a unique user experience and needs additional efforts. This might be one of the reasons why iOS is still the preferred platform for developing powerful apps.

Summary ...

Apple wants a perfect user experience for most of it's loyal customers and developers are supported by the iOS feature 'Size Classes' with which Apple said Goodbye to an increasing complexity of code needed to support sizes like 3.5" (iPhone 4), 4.0" (iPhone 5), 4.7" and 5.5" (iPhone 6), 7.9" (iPad Mini), and 9.7" (iPad). Google with its Android OS is still faced with a lot of different form factors and it seems to be an impossible task for developers to ensure a perfect user interface and user experience on all devices.

If we think about usual 24-month contracts with subsidized devices an operating system should at least be updatable over two years. And there is also a gaining number of old people who are not willing to always change their device every two years.

Anyway, my iPhone 4S (October 2011) already got iOS 8. It possibly runs iOS 9 expected to be released in 2015. That would mean, my 4S would run the latest operating system for 5 years. That's unique in the fiercely competitive and fast changing mobile market.

Related links
About the iPhone
About iOS Size Classes
Android stats quoted from

Thanks for your attention.

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