How Soon Will People Start Using iOS 10?

What we found suggests that iOS 10 will probably, barring serious technical glitches, be adopted by users faster than any update since iOS 7.

September 6, 2016
Image of Aditya Vempaty
Aditya Vempaty
Former Head of Marketing
How Soon Will People Start Using iOS 10?

Tomorrow, September 7th, Apple’s annual fall showcase will take place at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. They’re expected to unveil this year’s iPhone—the iPhone 7—as well as release an official date for its operating system, iOS 10. In that spirit, we thought we’d try and predict just how quickly people will adopt iOS 10. To do so, we went back and looked through data on the last few iOS launches. What we found suggests that iOS 10 will probably, barring serious technical glitches, be adopted by users faster than any update since iOS 7.

The iOS 7 Launch

While in terms of long-term adoption it was eventually eclipsed by iOS 9, the first twelve hours that iOS 7 was out were a frenzy: The number of people installing iOS 7 in the first 24 hours was sky high compared to later operating system updates. Google Trends data shows us a similar result—you can tell which OS update out of the last four was the most hyped. It’s easy to understand why if you go back and look at visual head-to-heads of iOS 6 next to iOS 7. iOS 7 was a major visual overhaul that inspired both effusive praise and derision at the time it was revealed: Source

iOS 7, iOS 8, iOS 9 adoption trends
iOS adoption Google Trends
iOS 6 vs iOS 7 head-to-head

While we’re not looking at a massive redesign with iOS 10, from the list of new features we’ve seen it does seem that Apple would like this year to be one where people don’t complain about an underwhelming OS update.

iOS 8: Bugs And Hiccups

The iOS 8 launch was riddled with problems. Cellular connectivity and Touch ID were crippled on all iPhone 6 and 6 Plus phones. Various Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and battery issues emerged and were left untouched. Digital Trends published a seemingly not tongue-in-cheek listicle entitled “35 Annoying Problems With iOS 8.” Three weeks after its release, iOS 8 was on a dramatically low percentage of iPhones when compared to adoption for iOS 7 in the same timeframe. (Source) After 19 days, iOS 8 was on 37% of iPhones. By that point after launch, iOS 7 had made its way onto 58% of iPhones. Even though many of the most significant issues with iOS 8 were patched not long after its release, the bad PR that Apple incurred most likely resulted in many users holding off regardless. There were no major feature updates in iOS 8—from the outside looking in, it may not have looked worthwhile to update at all. And a sizable number of the people who did upgrade went looking for a way back—here’s the Google Trends data on “downgrade to iOS 7” (in blue) compared to “downgrade to iOS 8” (in red):

iOS 8 adoption
iOS 7 downgrade Google Trends

iOS 9 By The Numbers

The launch of iOS 9 was one of Apple’s most successful launches by adoption percentage—a full 36% of iPhones and iPads had iOS 9 installed three days after it was available.

There was a stall at around 75% adoption toward the end of the year, but the release of iOS 9.3 in spring 2016—with its encrypted Notes, 3D Touch expansion, Night Shift, better Wi-Fi assist and ability to hide stock apps—gave it a boost. Today, according to Apple, 88% of all iPhones and iPads are using iOS 9.

The original iOS 9, however, was primarily an under-the-hood update. The most significant change in iOS 9.0 probably had to do with how it encrypted information.

Much of its adoption early on probably had to do with the release of the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus about a week later—at least 13,000,000 iPhone 6S and 6S Plus units were sold during their opening weekend, each one coming with iOS 9 pre-installed.

What Should We Expect From iOS 10?

Once again, Apple is likely timing its latest software update to coincide with the release of a new iPhone. iOS 10, unlike 9 before it, is actually a relatively feature-rich update. A few include:

  • Automatic voicemail transcription
  • Deep learning for sorting and searching through photos
  • Contextual setting of app defaults
  • 3D Touch functionality expansion
  • Totally renovated iMessage, with apps and stickers

This is not a purely performance-based update or purely one intended to dovetail with the release of a new iPhone. This is a significant feature-driven update that also happens to coincide with a new piece of hardware on which it will most likely be the default.

Because of this, we think we’re likely to see iOS 10 adoption rates surpass those of iOS 9 and iOS 8, and possibly even come close to the kinds of explosive numbers displayed in the first hours of the iOS 7 launch. Apple holds the tech world spotlight every September and this year they don’t look set to disappoint.

In Other News…

Big news for Android this month as well. Marshmallow, the OS officially released in October 2015, is finally above 15% adoption. ![Citizen Kane clapping gif]

As for the most recently released OS, Nougat, adoption appears to be so limited that usage statistics have not been reported. We’ll let you know when we hear more.

About the Author
Image of Aditya Vempaty
Aditya Vempaty
Former Head of Marketing
As the former head of marketing at Amplitude, I had the privilege of hiring and leading a fantastic team of marketers, designers, and content folks to build a marketing engine that resulted in increasing revenues by 400% in 15 months.