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Apple is taking strong steps to improve the overall quality of its operating systems, including iOS, macOS, and others.
A new report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reveals that Apple has called a temporary halt to the development of new features for next year’s big releases of macOS 15, iOS 18, and watchOS 11 to allow developers to focus on fixing bugs in the software. The report says this has also affected the work on visionOS, the operating system for Apple’s upcoming Vision Pro headset.
Apple reportedly put a one-week pause on all new feature development in place last week, which is expected to end this week.
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Gurman says Apple completed the initial versions of next year’s software releases in October, including macOS 15, iOS 18, and watchOS 11. However, review teams found an abnormally large number of bugs in these early versions.
According to Gurman, Apple’s latest development round for 2024’s firmware updates “hasn’t gone as smoothly” as the Cupertino firm would like. As a result, Apple executives in charge of the company’s software development efforts ordered development teams to halt “all new feature development for one week to work on fixing the bugs.”
Traditionally, Apple engineers and developers would immediately begin work on a “second milestone” of the new software after completing the first “milestone.” However, this year the company has “delayed the start of work on the second milestone release” to concentrate on fixing the bugs and work on overall quality.
Thousands of Apple employees work on the company’s devices, operating systems, and software, all of which need to operate together seamlessly. With that many cooks in the kitchen, it’s easy for bugs and quality issues to crop up.
“It’s a problem of 10,000 people typing code and completely breaking the operating system,” a “person familiar with the situation” told Gurman.
The Bloomberg report also offers a peek at how Apple software engineering chief Craig Federighi has worked to improve Apple software quality during the years he’s been in charge.
In 2019, Federighi revamped the way Apple develops its software as part of an overall attempt to prevent future problems. The approach requires each new feature to be enabled manually via a process called “feature flags,” which allows employee testers to isolate any impact a given feature might have on the overall system before putting it into place.
in 2019, Federighi came up with what is referred to internally at Apple as “The Pact.” Under the pact, Apple employees should never knowingly allow “regressions,” which is when software that once worked correctly stops doing so. They are also required to quickly fix the issues causing the regressions.
Federighi’s new policies have seemed to help, as Apple’s software releases have been a bit less buggy in recent times, with fewer features being delayed.
While any type of delay during development can be problematic, this one-week delay so early in development seems to be an excellent way to try and kill bugs that might have otherwise ended up in the release version of the software.
[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]