I was discussing developing an iOS App with a client and I mentioned that we should ideally have a Universal App that would perform as an iPhone App on an iPhone and as an iPad App on an iPad.

The client likes the idea of an iPad-specific version of the App but prefers the idea of a separate App entirely for the iPad version. And not for some "Angry Birds/Angry Birds HD" type of reason (the App in question will be free, so there's nothing to be gained financially) but rather because "other [organizations in his industry] have told him" that "Universal Apps have more compatibility issues with older devices when new versions of the operating system [iOS] are released" and having discrete apps for this alleviates this issue.

I believe he may have been referring to the concept of an App requiring a version of iOS that is more recent than the last one available on the phone. Or maybe the concept of releasing an App or an update that requires a version of iOS beyond the last one available on a device (original iPhone is stuck at 3.1.3 forever, iPhone 3G is stuck at 4.2.1 forever). But I presume you can still make a Universal App for 3.1.3 since the original iPad shipped with iOS 3.2 and Universal Apps existed before 4.0. And while I'm having a difficult time finding out what the minimum iOS version is for Apps submitted to the App Store, I presume that the original iPhone can still download and buy Apps or else the one guy in the office here who still has his OG iPhone would probably have complained more by now.

But I really don't know. Do Universal Apps have more issues with compatibility on devices (and more specifically older devices) than individually developed separate (but otherwise pretty equivalent) Apps? Has anyone ever run into this?


2 Answers 2


Hi I have been in iOS development since last 2 years.


1) No this is not at all true. In fact it is better to build a Universal app rather than separate iPhone and iPad versions of the App. As such if there is not much difference in iPhone and iPad version of the application functionality-wise, then it is better that we make a universal app. It saves a lot of effort and time and also it is convenient for the end users as most of them would want to buy one app and use it on their multiple iDevices.

2) Also one more point from programmer's perspective is that it is very much easier when the client wants updates in the application once it is released as we as programmers have to make changes in the same application rather than two parallel applications.


So overall, I would say that Universal apps are "better" than separate versions of the app and also there is no extra problems faced when new iOS version is out.

Hope this helps you.


The basic rule is that the more different hardware environments and OS versions you need to support with a single release, the more complex the code can get and the more media and UI assets that may be required. This complexity and asset management can result in more testing and QA efforts required and/or more potential issues, compatibility problems or bugs.

Universal iOS apps also don't allow segmenting the market based on demand-price sensitivity, potentially reducing profit potential.

But I've done Universal iOS apps, and for these few apps, did not run into any unusual OS compatibility issues, other than the need for a lot more continuous device testing on all the different devices.

  • Yes but that's not the question. The question is, basically, do you run into more compatibility issues with a Universal App than you do with two device-specific but otherwise identical Apps? I would assume that if you have an issue with, say, iOS 3.1.3 on the original iPhone, then you would have it whether or not it's an iPhone-only App or a Universal App.
    – Tom Kidd
    Jan 5, 2012 at 19:23
  • @Schnapple I'd completely concur with your assessment. Jan 15, 2012 at 10:20
  • You won't have any more issues in a universal app than the two separate apps combined - they will use the same frameworks etc. Plus they're easier to manage (only one lot of code/no conditional compiler statements and multiple targets).
    – jrtc27
    Feb 19, 2012 at 14:13
  • Disagree. I've had changes to fix something on one device break the app's appearance or function on another device. Thus the need for nearly twice as much testing for any change to the code of Universal apps.
    – hotpaw2
    Feb 19, 2012 at 18:56

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