Why Should I Update My iOS (iPhone and iPad) Apps?

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – the common reasoning for not upgrading software, hardware, cars, toaster ovens, etc.  Basically, new doesn’t always equal better.  I can’t agree more, but when my mother-in-law gave me the same reasoning for not updating her iPhone apps, it occurred to me…she actually might be breaking her beloved apps by not updating them.

I spend my days developing iPhone and iPad apps, so I know the challenge to test older versions against the growing number of devices and iOS versions.  If my app is at version 5 (having gone through version 1-4), I can honestly say I don’t really test versions 1-2 and maybe not even version 3 for backwards compatibility.  Why would an old version break just because a new version is released?  Well, it has to do with the back-end systems that are supporting the app.  For example, all your friend’s Facebook wall posts appearing in your Facebook iPhone app come from the Facebook servers.  This data is formated in a certain way and overtime as new features are added and others removed, the format of the data needs to change.  Eventually, the older app (unless a lot of time and energy is spent) won’t understand the new data format and will stop functioning. So, while my mother-in-law thinks by not updating she is removing the potential for her apps breaking and saving herself hassle, she in fact is increasing and, for certain apps, inevitability breaking them.  The moral of the story: Update your apps if you want them to keep working.

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