Apple is back to improving the quality of iOS, macOS, and watchOS. According to a new report from Bloomberg, Apple paused development of new features for iOS 18, macOS 15, and watchOS 11 last week to work on bug fixes. The decision reportedly also affected visionOS.
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman explains that Apple finalized the “first version” of future versions of iOS 18, macOS 15, and watchOS 11 last month. However, when these updates were tested, an abnormal number of bugs were discovered.
The report explains that the latest round of development for updates to Apple’s next system firmware “did not go as smoothly” as the company would have liked. Because of this, Apple’s software development executives ordered teams to halt “development of all new features for one week to work on bug fixes.”
Normally, after completing the first “milestone” release of the OS, Apple engineers immediately start work on the second. This year, however, the company has “delayed the start of work on the second release” to focus on bug fixes.
With thousands of different Apple employees working on different operating systems and devices that need to work cohesively, it’s very easy for glitches to occur. “It’s a problem of 10,000 people typing in code and completely breaking the operating system,” said one of the people familiar with the situation.
Apple reportedly instituted a week-long pause in the development of new features last week, and work will continue this week.
Today’s Bloomberg report also provides some details about how Craig Federighi, Apple’s head of software engineering, has been working to improve software quality for years:
In 2019, he changed his approach to software development in an effort to prevent problems. Under this approach, each feature must be manually enabled – through a process called “feature flags” – allowing employee testers to determine the impact on the system as a whole before adding it.
That same year, he also adopted an agreement known at Apple as the “Covenant.” This agreement commits employees to never knowingly allow “regressions” – when software that once worked stops functioning properly – and to fix bugs quickly. Federighi’s policy has paid off. In recent years, Apple’s software releases have had fewer bugs, and fewer features have had to be delayed.
What exactly that means for new features in iOS 18, iPadOS 18, macOS 15, and watchOS 11 remains to be seen. Bloomberg calls this week-long pause a “rare move.”
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