Starting April 1, 2018, Apple will require all new iPhone and universal apps to natively support the iPhone X Super Retina display, as well as requiring new iOS apps to be built with iOS 11 SDK or later and new Apple Watch apps to be built with the watchOS 4 SDK or later. Apple’s Developer Program notified developers about the new requirements in an email this afternoon.
Apple’s push for Super Retina display support could be taken either as obvious or as suggestive of future development trends. The company has historically used similar developer requirements to guarantee support for larger iPhone screen sizes, so it’s no surprise that Apple will require developers to include higher-resolution Super Retina assets and notch-abiding UI layouts roughly six months after the iPhone X’s release.
On the other hand, some may take the requirement as a hint that more Super Retina devices — or similarly proportioned iPhones — are coming later this year. In previous years, Apple mandated that new apps include 64-bit support after the release of iOS 8 and comply with a new “flat” visual style after the debut of iOS 7, heralding widespread changes across its devices. But more than two years after its release, Apple has not imposed a similar screen support requirement for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which didn’t represent any major directional shift for iPads or other Apple products.
Apple’s new developer requirements differentiate between new apps and ones already in the App Store: Existing apps can continue to be built with some older versions of the iOS and watchOS SDKs, but Apple said today that it will stop accepting apps built with the watchOS 1 SDK on April 1. Roughly 65 percent of iOS devices are currently running iOS 11, 28 percent are on iOS 10, and 7 percent are on earlier versions of iOS; similar numbers are not available for watchOS.
The new requirements are designed to push all developers to more quickly adopt improvements found in the latest operating system releases. Apple has frequently cited security and other under-the-hood enhancements as reasons for customers to keep their devices up to date with the latest OS releases; a guarantee of continued compatibility with popular apps can also give users reasons to update.