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Refocused iOS update cycle is just the cure Apple needed

by Brandon Russell | February 14, 2018February 14, 2018 12:00 pm PST

The launch of iOS 11 brought with it several exciting features, including ARKit, Apple Pay Cash, Animoji, and improvements to the iPad. But the software’s release was also marred by several problems, some of which completely broke the experience.

Things have gotten so bad that Apple executives have reportedly made the decision to revamp is strategy to annual updates in what’s being called a “major cultural shift.”

Now, instead of rushing to cram dozens of new features into future releases, Apple will take a more measured approach. The goal is to avoid the nightmare that was iOS 11, while giving engineers the time they need to actually finish features.

For longtime Apple fans, it’s about damn time.

A new dawn

Apple’s strategy has typically been to release major iOS updates as quickly as possible. As Bloomberg notes, it played into the perception of Apple as an innovator while making its competitors seem slow and boring. “But the feature-packed upgrades place huge demands on Apple’s beleaguered engineers,” Bloomberg noted.

Compare it to Google’s strategy, which allows engineers to update individual apps at a slower pace, and Apple’s approach seems more like a sprint than a marathon. There’s a term for it in the world of video game development: crunch. It’s when developers work long, grueling hours to meet a deadline.

With iOS 11, this crunch finally caught up to Apple. The pristine, sophisticated sheen of Apple’s software has suddenly taken on an unrecognizable patina. One issue even prompted Apple to release an update ahead of schedule. The numerous problems have flown in the face of Apple’s legendary attention to detail.

Shifting its strategy is what Apple needs. Now, the company can reevaluate where it wants to go with iOS in the next few years.

Delayed gratification

With a more measured approach, there’s the potential for Apple to reimagine iOS along the way. The stale home screen, for example, will finally get a redesign, according to reports. And developers will get the time needed to complete these updates.

We’ve already seen Apple unofficially adopt this new approach with iOS 11. Apple Pay Cash, AirPlay 2, and iCloud Messages were all delayed past iOS 11’s September launch; only Apple Pay Cash has been released.

If it means new features aren’t riddled with bugs when they launch, then iOS is better off for it. Again, it’s easy to draw a parallel to video game development. Rockstar has delayed the launch of Red Dead Redemption 2 two times already, citing the need to add more polish. Apple is doing the same thing with iOS, with a focus on the next two years.

“Craig Federighi’s 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,” Bloomberg said in its report. “The renewed focus on quality is designed to make sure the company can fulfill promises made each summer at the annual developers conference and that new features work reliably and as advertised.”

Apple will continue to release annual updates, but iOS 12 isn’t expected to be quite as splashy as previous years. If Apple feels it can’t release features on time, it won’t rush. As for what to expect, some of the new features in iOS 12 may include support for universal apps and updates to Do Not Disturb.

But consumers will have to wait until 2019 to see more significant updates, such as a revamped home screen and iPad-focused software upgrades, according to Bloomberg. It will be difficult to wait, but it could be pay as Apple looks to regain its reputation as a company that delivers quality softwareiOS updates are just the cure Apple has needed


Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell likes to rollerblade while listening to ACDC.

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