Ryan Harter

Freelance Android Developer

Going ICS Only

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Back in April I had the pleasure of seeing a talk by Jay Ohms of TwentyFive Squares at GDG Schaumburg. It was a great discussion about their app, Press, an excellent RSS reader for Android.

The discussion wasn’t a technical one, but one of the things that interested me was their decision to go Ice Cream Sandwich and up for Press. This was the first app that I had heard of, and the only major, popular app that I know of, that has made this decision.

My initial reaction was that they made a huge mistake. How could they imagine making a business by cutting themselves off from so many potential customers? What were they thinking?

After thinking about this for a little while, I went and looked at the statistics of Hashnote. I new all along that ICS+ devices made up a huge part of my user base, but I never really thought about it. I’ve been developing Android apps for years and backwards compatibility was just something I did without thinking.

It was then that I noticed that of Hashnote’s users, only 1.4% were actually using anything less than ICS. After taking into account all of the work I had done to integrate ActionBar Sherlock, fix selected state drawables, and test everything on Gingerbread, I realized that it just didn’t make sense.

I decided to rip out the compatibility layer and go ICS+ for Hashnote, and I’ve been amazed at how much better that has made things. My development is much faster, and I no longer have to worry about old APIs.

Eventually I’ll make the jump to Jelly Bean only, but, for now, Ice Cream Sandwich has a great place in my development.

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