Apple is doubling down on its efforts to improve the overall software quality of iOS, macOS, and watchOS. According to a new report from Bloomberg, Apple hit pause on the development of new features for iOS 18, macOS 15, and watchOS 11 last week to work on fixing bugs. The decision is also said to have impacted visionOS.
Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman explains that Apple completed the “first version” of next year’s iOS 18, macOS 15, and watchOS 11 releases last month. Reviewing that update, however, teams found an abnormal number of bugs.
The report explains that Apple’s latest round of development for next year’s firmware updates “hasn’t gone as smoothly” as the company would like. As such, executives in charge of Apple’s software development efforts told teams to halt “all new feature development for one week to work on fixing the bugs.”
Usually, after completing the first “milestone” release of a software update, Apple engineers would immediately begin work on the second milestone. This year, however, the company “delayed the start of work on the second milestone release” to focus on cleaning things up.
With thousands of different Apple employees working on a range of operating systems and devices — that need to work together seamlessly — it’s easy for glitches to crop up. “It’s a problem of 10,000 people typing code and completely breaking the operating system,” one person familiar with the situation said.
Apple reportedly implemented the one-week pause on new feature development last week, and it will be lifted this week.
Today’s report from Bloomberg also offers some big-picture details on how Craig Federighi, Apple’s software engineering chief, has worked to improve software quality over the years:
In 2019, he overhauled the way Apple develops software in a further attempt to stave off problems. Under the approach, each feature has to be enabled manually — via a process dubbed “feature flags” — allowing employee testers to isolate the impact on the overall system before adding it.
That year, he also adopted what is known within Apple as “The Pact.” The agreement calls for employees to never knowingly allow “regressions” — when software that once worked stops functioning correctly — and quickly fix mistakes. Federighi’s policies have helped: Apple software releases have been less buggy in recent years, and fewer features had to be delayed.
What this means exactly for new features in iOS 18, iPadOS 18, macOS 15, and watchOS 11 remains to be seen. Bloomberg describes this one-week pause as a “rare move.”
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