For years now, Apple has been running a predictable software cycle for iPhone and iPad: each September, a new version of iOS is released along with a big list of flashy new features and redesigns.
That could be set to change, however, as a reported change of tact from Apple means new capabilities will be drip-fed with smaller updates all year round instead of rushed to deadline each September.
Bloomberg talks of a “cultural shift” taking place amongst Apple’s software team, noting that although the big yearly updates will remain – meaning iOS 12 is still on track for launch this Fall – there will be less pressure to load the zero-point release with new features. Instead, features will be released as and when they’re ready with iterative updates, such as iOS 12.1 or 12.2.
To some degree, this already happens – case in point, Portrait mode was announced with iOS 10 but wasn’t made available until 10.1, and even Apple’s new HomePod smart speaker has launched without core software capabilities like stereo pairing and multi-room audio, with promises that they will come later as free software updates.
With the current mindset, though, these features are considered “late” by the public and can often be rushed to market before they’re truly ready for prime time. Arguably, this policy breeds disappointment, benefits no-one, and may well be the root of the notable increase in bugs found in Apple software of late. Perhaps this change of heart is an admission from Apple that rushing to self-imposed deadlines isn’t the right approach.
Though it will likely mean a less flashy launch for iOS 12, which we’ve already heard will focus on stability and security, the good news for iPhone and iPad users is that features should be much more usable from day one. Plus, we won’t have to wait entire years for exciting new additions to iOS!