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I'm having an app built, I'm not a programmer and I dont know exactly what to specify.

I want it to work on iPhones and iPads and iPod touches and also on Android devices - tablets as well as smartphones, and the Kindle Fire.

What backwards compatibility do I need to specify, at a sensible level?

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Android will be affected the most by backwards compatibility, because that API grew a lot between 1.x and 2.x. As someone who has done my fair share of playing with Android SDK, I'd personally say that the backwards limit for normal apps would be 1.6 (the vast majority of Android users have equal or newer devices than that), and games being 2.2 (that's about when they introduced multi-touch - something nearly mandatory for anything but the simplest of games).

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For iOS it depends on whether the software needs to run on iPhone 4 or later hardware, or if its resource requirements are low enough to run on iPhone 3G.

A lot of iPhone 3G users did not update past iOS 3.1.2, so that's a good bar if you can / want-to capture them. If you don't care about iPhone 3G or if the app needs the hardware of iPhone 4, then target iOS 4.0.

There may be some particular features of your application which would require a specific later version, so YMMV.

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