I know that this is a slightly controversial topic – how many macOS versions back should a developer support? Can a developer remove support for older macOS versions in the middle of the software life cycle (i.e. not at the point of a major upgrade)?
These questions do not have a clear answer, unfortunately. All macOS apps that we develop support macOS versions all the way back to
macOS 10.11 in some cases (e.g. Eon Timer), though most of them support macOS 10.12 and later (Downie, Permute, UctoX). EDIT: As of Nov 2022, all apps now require macOS 10.13. Xcode 14 which is required for macOS 13 development only supports deployment targets 10.13 and above. EDIT 2: As of Sep 28, 2023, all apps now require macOS 10.14.6 or later. macOS 10.13 usage has dwindled towards just 1% of users and Xcode 15 which is requires for macOS 14 development has issues with linking the binaries for these older macOS versions.
When you take a look at the calendar, it’s 2023 and macOS 10.13 was released in 2017. That’s 6 years ago…
So what’s the big deal supporting older macOS versions? Well, someone needs to test it. There are subtle differences inbetween macOS versions in UI layout, behavior, etc. that need to be taken into account. Newer technologies are impossible to use due to supporting older macOS versions (e.g. SwiftUI, Swift Concurrency – all require macOS 11 or later).
For a small one-person company like this, it is becoming no longer feasible to test the software thoroughly on so many different operating systems and to make individual adjustments for them. With this in mind, I’d like to share macOS usage statistics for Downie (and they are very similar for Permute)
as provided by Setapp (I do not have the data for non-Setapp versions) – I was told being unfair to users of older versions of macOS, so I’ve added my own OS statistic collection in the most recent versions to better reflect reality. These numbers are the third+ column. Unfortunately, the reality is almost the same (within statistical error margin)…
|Version||May 2022||Dec 2022||Apr 2023||Sep 2023|
This shows that over 95% of users are running macOS 10.15+ and over 90% of users are running macOS 11.
Given this, starting
Jun 1, 2022 Aug 1, 2023, macOS versions prior to macOS 10.15 11 will receive limited support. What exactly does that mean? New features are not guaranteed to work correctly or to even be available on these macOS versions, various issues that would require massive workarounds will no longer be fixed.
The apps will still run on the macOS versions that they currently run on and I will do my very best to keep it that way, but there simply are no guarantees.
Note 1: this article may be updated in the future with newer statistics and a shift in the list of macOS versions supported. Current update: see the information below the percentages).
Note 2: any major app updates (e.g. Permute 4, Downie 5, etc) will require at least macOS 13, but will likely require even newer macOS version…
• Sep 26, 2022 – as Xcode 14 (which is required for macOS 13 improvements and compatibility) no longer supports macOS 10.12, all future updates will require macOS 10.13 or later.
• Jul 24, 2022 – with dwindling macOS 10.15 usage and the fact that macOS 10.15 is the last macOS version which doesn’t support second generation of the system-provided web view component that’s used in Downie’s User-Guided Extraction and is required by more and more sites nowadays, limited support is being extended to macOS 10.15 as well.
• Sep 28, 2023 – with Xcode 15 being required for development under macOS 14, and it bringing linker issues under macOS versions prior to macOS 10.14.6, all future updates will require macOS 10.14.6 or later.