Yesterday, we told you about an unexpected improvement of the App Store backend which results in customers being able to grab older versions of apps. This is especially useful to those who may be browsing the App Store using an older device with one of the older iOS versions.
For those people, attempting to download, say, the latest version of an app would produce a prompt offering the last compatible version available for their legacy hardware, provided the app at some point supported their hardware.
Thursday, we received a word that Apple now allows developers to use the iTunes Connect portal to specify which apps and what versions should be made available to owners of legacy software through the App Store…
A notice on Apple’s Dev Center confirms that previous versions of apps are now available for re‑download by users who have already purchased them, “allowing customers to use your apps with older devices which may no longer be supported by the current version of your app.”
Developers who for some reason want to limit availability of older app versions can now manage availability of apps’ previous versions in the Rights and Pricing section of the Manage Your Apps module in iTunes Connect.
There are a number of reasons why some developers would want to limit availability of apps’ previous versions. For starters, older versions may no longer be supported from the customer service perspective.
Many developers have limited resources and supporting a 2010 version of an app in 2013 may not be in their best interest. More importantly, a lot of iOS apps rely on a server-side software to function properly.
Over time, as developers upgrade their apps, they also update server-side APIs and protocols, meaning older versions of apps may no longer function properly. In other words, these apps may be unable to communicate with the server because the two are now speaking different languages, so to speak.