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). When you take a look at the calendar, it’s 2022 and macOS 10.12 was released in 2016. 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. Swift UI, 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 6 different operating systems (and it will be 7 in a month) 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):
- macOS 10.12 – 0.2%
- macOS 10.13 – 1.12%
- macOS 10.14 – 1.58%
- macOS 10.15 – 4.93%
- macOS 11 – 9.08%
- macOS 12 – 83.08%
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, macOS versions prior to macOS 10.15 will receive limited support. What exactly does that mean? New features are not guaranteed to work correctly or 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: May 12, 2022
Note 2: any major app updates (e.g. Permute 4, Downie 5, etc) will require at least macOS 11, 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.