Whether new APIs for extensions that came with iOS 8 or WidgetKit in iOS 14, every iOS release is an opportunity for developers to expand the scoop of their apps to create a more enjoyable experience for their users. These new APIs and SDKs are offered to users sometime in the fall when new OS updates drop, however, developers have access to them starting in June.
The Beta Testing Period
Apple seeds major OS updates to developers (although everyone ends up downloading them) in order to give them time to run and test their own apps on the new software and report bugs back to the engineering team. It’s a process that Apple has pioneered thanks to it truly being the first major tech-company to properly implement OTA (over-the-air updates) for devices.
At their core, the beta release cycle gives developers months and weeks to test and work on new features for their apps that can take advantage of new offerings in the next update. While developers do have extra time, they also have to battle maintaining and keeping up to date their currently shipped app that’s running on current devices.
Small Developers vs. Corporations
The App Store is filled with many developers, there are small indie developers who either work by themselves or have a small team that works on an app. For those small indie developers and teams, a delay in implementing new features is expected and admirably given those apps are usually developed with more love and passion than bigger apps.
On the other side of the spectrum there are larger corporations, Facebook, Twitter, and others that have the resources to work on their current app and work on developing features for the next OS update during the beta testing period.
Large Corporations Don’t Seem to Care about iOS 14
iOS 14 widgets gave Apple customers this fuel of excitement that hadn’t been felt with an OS update for a long time, not at least since iOS 7. In the weeks that followed iOS 14’s public roll-out on September 16th, there was this massive trend of users decking-out their homescreen, fully milking the system to create a truly personalized iPhone experience for them.
A number of apps did at launch support widgets, (you can checkout our list here), apps such as CARROT, Spark, and others were quick to hop onto the social media frenzy and add widgets to their apps. The apps missing? Facebook itself, Facebook-owned WhatsApp, Instagram, and even Twitter (which Apple teased a widget for in the iOS 14 reveal video).
Staying on the topic of large corporations, it’s important to give credit where it’s due. Google was extremely fast in rolling out support for iOS 14 widgets, offering them only one day after iOS and iPadOS 14 launches. Kudos to them! Additionally, Spotify just last week rolled out support for iOS 14 widgets.
Google and Spotify are the two lone wolves in the pack of large developers who understand how important it is to stay up to date with the latest offerings of Apple’s operating system. Historically, the larger the developer, the slower they are in adopting new features. That lack of speed and if we’re being freak, the lack of care that those developers show plays in large part as to why so many users are increasingly frustrated with them.
Dark mode which came to iOS last year still isn’t widely available on Facebook, and WhatsApp only added dark mode months after iOS 13 launched. To seem degree, I feel for these large developers. There are at times more important things for them to focus on than supporting new iOS features.
But, if a small indie developer working alone and juggling other responsibilities can update their app to support new features in a matter of days, then why can’t corporations worth billions of dollars spare a few engineers and hours to do the same?