Towards the end of last month, Apple Inc.’s Chief of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, made a rare call. He decided to halt the development work on the company’s next major software update as the quality of the early versions was not up to expectations. Federighi allowed a break for Apple to debug and improve performance.
The upcoming generation of Apple’s software – iOS 18 and other operating systems slated for next year, including macOS 15, watchOS 11, etc., is even more crucial than usual. The company is in a competitive race with Google and OpenAI in the field of generative AI, and iOS 18 is poised to introduce such technology to iPhones.
The update for iOS needs to be more impactful as there won’t be significant hardware advancements for iPhone 16 next year. Therefore, Apple is relying on software to sell new models.
In this regard, Apple is proceeding cautiously, which helps understand recent delays. Engineers can spend a week focused on ironing out glitches with the development of iOS 18, along with other next-generation operating systems like iPadOS 18, macOS 15, and watchOS 11.
Apple is taking a measured approach, learning from recent setbacks. They might spend a week focusing on eliminating glitches when working on iOS 18 and macOS 15, among other next-gen operating systems.
Last month, the company completed the first internal version of the update, incorporating major new features. When Apple reaches the stage known as M1, usually the next milestone named after M2 begins development immediately. Debugging breaks have caused a week’s delay in starting development for M2.
Apple typically has four milestones leading up to the Worldwide Developers Conference in June, where the company usually announces new software and releases beta versions. Each milestone usually lasts up to six weeks, with a focus on adding new features and dedicating two weeks to bug fixing. In this latest cycle, an additional week was obtained for dealing with bugs, causing a delay.
Currently, a one-week pause will likely not postpone the final release of the software. In the worst-case scenario, it will give Apple a little less time to address any last-minute hiccups at the end of the development cycle.
The good news is that this step indicates that Apple is always taking quality seriously. In 2019, Federighi implemented a policy called “The Pact” where he said, “We will never allow regressions in quality to be the status quo. And when we do find them, we’ll jump on them.”
In other words, if the company realizes that adding a new feature causes something else to break in the software – a regression – then there’s an immediate need to fix that bug. It’s evident that Apple had to struggle to adhere to this guidance with the development of iOS 18, macOS 15, and watchOS 11.
Apple is facing even more challenging work with its 2024 software. After a few years of incremental updates in iOS, the next version of iPhone and iPad software could be significantly groundbreaking.
Internally, Apple’s senior management has described its upcoming operating system MacBook Pro and iMac models as “ambitious and captivating,” featuring major new features and designs alongside security and performance improvements.
However, users will only appreciate those new features if they work, meaning ensuring that the software’s underlying performance and quality are robust.
Due to the essential need for stable and highly diverse software foundation, the Software Foundation of Apple is energetically introducing exciting new features while maintaining balance. The company is taking its time to achieve a harmonious blend of stability and the introduction of stimulating features.