How iOS 5 Affects Regions

Mon, Jun 06, 2011

iOS 5 probably just made my app pointless.

I started working on Regions in my free time as soon as iOS 4.0 brought new background location APIs to the table. The app has had a few issues. The most glaring problem was that any iOS device could download it from the app store, even though it is only available for iPhone 4. I’m almost done with finals, so I was planning on doing the following this summer:

  1. Refining the User Interface to make some of the features more obvious
  2. Re-releasing Regions under a new name (the only way to fix the app store availability problem)

I didn’t want to promote my app without completing these two steps.

I decided to check out the WWDC news, and found out that built-in location based reminders would be included in the next major release of iOS. Naturally, I was slightly upset; But not as much as my friends thought I would be. I understand that this sort of thing happens all the time. Regions was not the only app in its category. What it provides is a very useful, so it makes sense that many other people would want to provide the same feature. Why would Apple be any different?

Another example of this is the volume shutter feature in Camera+ that was rejected last year. Yet another example of an idea that is on one hand very clever, but is also bound to be thought of by multiple people.

Today, I finally received a response (under NDA of course) about my bug report. There is some good news to take out of this. The built-in support should be awesome. I’ve always wanted this feature, and now everyone else will get it as well.

Regarding built-in features cannibalizing special apps, there is a small chance that this will increase demand for my app. Marco Arment has a post explaining why that may be the case for Instapaper.

What does this mean for Regions?

It means that I probably won’t be updating it over the summer. I’ll wait and see how the feature turns out when I start using iOS 5. I only have one iPhone 4, which I use as my personal phone, so I don’t install iOS betas on it. If there ends up being an opportunity for Regions to fill a niche, then I will reconsider actively developing it. People that want to have location based reminders before iOS 5 gets released this Fall can download Regions from the app store now.