Apple’s New Software Strategy Revealed; But You Won’t Like It

A report from last month claimed that Apple would be pushing back the release of some features in iOS 12 to next year so as to focus on improving the performance and stability of its OS. Now, a report from Bloomberg provides more details about Apple’s plans in regards to iOS 12 and future releases of the operating systems.

Apple is making a huge internal shift in terms of its software releases. The company has laid out a new strategy for its engineers where it has provided them with more time to work on features to ensure they work properly and are bug-free before being released to the public. If a feature is not ready, engineers have the option of pushing its release to next year. In terms of the public eye though, Apple will continue rolling out a major iOS update every year which will first be unveiled at WWDC but internally, it will provide engineers with the liberty to delay the release of a feature to next year if it is not ready.

Software chief Craig Federighi laid out the new strategy to his army of engineers last month, according to a person familiar with the discussion. His team will have more time to work on new features and focus on under-the-hood refinements without being tied to a list of new features annually simply so the company can tout a massive year-over-year leap, people familiar with the situation say.

This will not only reduce the pressure on engineers at Apple, it will also help them improve their existing code to ensure its more stable and bug-free.

A source inside Apple said that this move shows that the company realizes its schedules are not being met, and it is releasing new features with major bugs — something that would not have happened before when Apple had a much smaller list of hardware products to support.

Apple has employed this strategy for iOS 12 which is codenamed “Peace” internally. The OS is due to be unveiled at WWDC 2018 and slated for a public release alongside the new iPhones in September. For iOS 12, Apple has pushed back the release of a redesigned homescreen for the iPhone and iPad, CarPlay, and a revamped Photos app with the ability to recommend users which photo they should view.

Despite some major features being given the boot, the headlining feature of iOS 12 will be its fusion with macOS 10.14 known internally as “Liberty.” The move will allow one single third-party app to work on iPhones, iPads, and macOS. It could also lead to some of Apple’s own apps like Home coming to macOS. Other improvements in iOS 12 will include a new set of Animojis along with a menu that is easier to navigate. The company is also looking to integrate Animoji into Facetime so that people can use them during video calls.

Apple is also working on a new iPad with Face ID. It will bring Animoji to the iPads with its refreshed iPad lineup later this year. Apart from this, iOS 12 will also bring an improved Do Not Disturb feature with more granular control over notifications and phone calls. Apple is also looking to deeply integrate Siri into the search view of iOS 12, and introduce a redesigned interface for importing photos.

The features that have been delayed until 2019 are mostly related to the iPad. This includes being able to run several windows inside an app — similar to tabs in a web browser, the ability to run two instances of the same app side-by-side, some new features for the Apple Pencil, and more.

Our Take

It definitely makes sense for Apple to delay some features if they are not ready for the prime time. Over the last two years, the company has launched multiple new features that were too buggy at launch or had to be delayed because they were not ready. However, I am not sure if pushing back major features by another year makes sense. Instead, Apple should look at adding them through another major iOS software update in spring. The company already does something similar with its iOS x.3 update where it introduces a number of new features and enhancements every spring.

While I understand Apple delaying some less important features to 2019, I cannot believe that the company decided to push back a redesign of the iPhone and iPad home screen to next year. If anything, that’s one area of iOS which I believe desparately needs a revamp.

[Via Bloomberg]