Twitter ends support for iOS 9 and lower

Twitter says it’s ending support for all Twitter iOS users who are running older versions of the iOS operating system. According to a message in the app’s update text in its latest App Store release this week, only those users running iOS 10 or higher will continue to have a supported mobile client.

The company’s message notes this decision will allow it to streamline its app development for all clients.

Typically, moving off older platforms means a company can more quickly roll out new features and take advantage of the benefits provided by newer frameworks, without worrying how to support legacy users along the way.

It’s not unprecedented for social apps to make this choice, either – LinkedIn and Snapchat also only support iOS 10 or higher.¬†Facebook, meanwhile, caters to anyone on iOS 9 or above.

iOS 10 was released nearly 2 years ago, and next month, Apple device owners will gain access to the public release of iOS 12.

Ditching older versions of iOS is not as risky for Twitter as ditching users on older versions of Android, because a majority of iOS users upgrade when Apple rolls out a new mobile operating system. In fact, Apple’s data indicates only 5% percent of users are still on iOS 9 or below. At Apple’s scale, that’s still millions, but translated to Twitter’s install base it’s a much lower number.

During its Q2 2018 earnings, Twitter said it had 335 million monthly active users. And of course, many of those are running Twitter on Android. Presumably a very, very small percentage of users are on iOS 9 or below. Twitter must believe it’s small enough to be an acceptance loss, if it comes to that.

This would hardly be news except for the fact that the decision comes at a time when Twitter is losing users – it lost 1 million¬†users in Q2 – and when Twitter has been killing off a number of other client applications, as well. The company had already shut down many versions of the TweetDeck client app it acquired, and this year it shuttered Twitter for Mac along with most of its TV apps. It also ended support for legacy APIs, knowing that doing so would impact third-party clients’ ability to operate. And now it’s shedding a small number of iOS users, too.

Twitter says that anyone still running iOS 9 or older will no longer receive updates, so those who want to receive performance improvements, bug fixes and new features will need to upgrade.

With all these changes, it’s clear that Twitter is focused on limiting the number of platforms it has to support, so it can better address the needs of its users. Time will tell if it’s successful with that, however.