Why doesn’t the iBird 3.0 Update work on my device?

We have received a number of emails and posts in our forum and facebook pages complaining that the new iBird 3.0 update no longer appears in the Google Play store. I am going to use this post to try to explain why this happened and what recourse  you have to fix it.

Before I do however I would like to point out the one of the main motivators for the upgrade was actually to help customers with all kinds of tablets and phones. You see we have updated iBird so that it uses the Google servers to store its large database. Before this we used a private CDN that was not reliable and had poor bandwidth. Google has wonderful servers, with incredible bandwidth. The entire installation is far more reliable now. The fact that iBird no longer works with devices with older versions of the OS is one side effect of this new installation approach. First a graphic from our iBird for Android dashboard:

Android OS Version History

OS versions framed in purple will no longer work with iBird 3.0

As you can see about 7.4% of iBird customers are still using an OS < 2.3.3. This means devices using the Level 9 version of Gingerbread as well as Froyo, Eclair and Donut will not show iBird’s product page. You can see all versions of Android here.

Software development 101
There are two reasons we can’t offer special versions of the iBird app (nor can any Android app developer). First its because once we give someone the actual apk they can put it on one of the pirate servers and you lose control of your product. Second we can’t put a old version of iBird in Google Play because customers would have to buy it a second time which would not be fair. Google (and all other mobile platforms don’t have any kind of mechanism for allowing a developers to offer multiple versions. So you either upgrade for everyone or you don’t upgrade.

Now there is one thing a developer might do but its a terrible idea.  You might be able to  develop the new version of an Android app so that it downgrades itself when detecting the user has an old device. But think about what that would be like as a developer. You would be unable to give your customers most of the new features and so it would be very ineffective. You’d be working your buns off so a minority of your customers can keep there ancient hardware and not upgrade.

Now I imagine that if you are among the 7.5% of iBird customers who are unable to upgrade this explanation will not satisfy you. But surely you can see there is a rock and hard place here and we really don’t have a great solution. I might point out that your total loss in cash is under $10, but you would probably argue its not the money, its that you have become dependent on the app.

All I can say is that whole idea behind software upgrades is to introduce new features and usually new features means you need new hardware. Bottom line is all you can do to get the new iBird 3.0 is upgrade your phone or tablet to run Android OS 2.3.7 or newer. There are many ways to do this inexpensively. Go on eBay and buy a new device for example. Look for sales.

I hope this post helps some of you understand that there was no intention to make your life difficult.