Following the buggy mess of a release that iOS 13 was, Apple’s software chief Craig Federighi has decided to change the approach to software development internally. The decision was taken at a recent internal “kickoff” meeting.
Under the new approach, Apple’s software team will disable all buggy and unfinished features in test versions known as “daily builds” internally. These buggy or unfinished features can then be enabled by testers using a new internal process and settings menu called Flags.
At one point in the iOS 13 development cycle, different teams were adding new features on a daily or weekly basis. The builds got so buggy that many testers avoided installing them on their iPhones. This meant that testers were simply unaware of the issues that could have cropped up due to the addition of a new feature or other changes.
“Daily builds were like a recipe with lots of cooks adding ingredients,” a person with knowledge of the process said.
Test software got so crammed with changes at different stages of development that the devices often became difficult to use. Because of this, some “testers would go days without a livable build, so they wouldn’t really have a handle on what’s working and not working,” the person said. This defeated the main goal of the testing process as Apple engineers struggled to check how the operating system was reacting to many of the new features, leading to some of iOS 13’s problems.
The change in Apple’s strategy will allow early iOS 14 internal builds to be more usable.
Due to bugs and stability issues in iOS 10 and iOS 11, Apple was forced to focus on performance and stability with iOS 12 in 2018. Instead of adding major new features, the company worked on improving the performance and stability which led to iOS 12 being the most stable and fastest iOS release in years.
With iOS 13 though, the same issues that were present prior to iOS 12 release cropped up again. The initial releases were too buggy which led Apple to roll out multiple software updates in a very short span of time. Here’s hoping that the internal change in Apple’s approach should lead to iOS 14 being more stable and less buggy in nature.