In software development 'cultural shift', Apple won't hold features for major annual point...

Posted:
in iOS edited February 12
Rather than packing everything it can into an anticipated "iOS 12" later this year, Apple will reportedly spread out new features into future software updates, meaning "iOS 12.1" and beyond could bring big improvements to the iPhone and iPad.




Details on the so-called "cultural shift" within Apple's software development team were shared on Monday by Bloomberg, who reported that software chief Craig Federighi informed the team last month that things would be different going forward. With the new strategy, Apple will focus on the next two years of iPhone and iPad software updates, rather than "cramming features into a single update."

That's not to say that big improvements to iOS are not planned for later this year. Reporter Mark Gurman said new capabilities in the pipeline include Animoji characters in FaceTime, enhancements to Do Not Disturb, deeper integration of Siri into Spotlight search, and a revamped Stocks app.

A big update said to be in the works for 2019 is the ability to run "several windows in one app" on the iPad. Users will reportedly switch between apps just like tabs in a web browser.


iOS "dark mode" concept via Max Angelakis.


Still on track for this year, however, is project "Marzipan," a feature that will make it easier for developers to port iOS apps to the Mac and run a single unified code base. According to Gurman, it's likely that Apple will bring its own Home app for HomeKit controls to the Mac with macOS 10.14, known internally as "Liberty."

Word first surfaced last month that Apple internally told developers that some key features planned for this year would be pushed back to 2019 to allow the company to focus on performance and reliability. It was said that "flashier changes" like a redesigned home screen will wait for future updates.

If Apple sticks to its regular annual release pattern, as is expected to do, then "iOS 12" should be unveiled at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference in June, before launching to the public in September.

In the interim, the company is working on a new iOS 11.3 update that will give users the ability to check the health of their device's battery, and choose to enable or disable automatic throttling of older devices to prevent random shutdowns. The update also includes four new Animoji, support for Messages in iCloud, ARKit 1.5, and tweaks to Apple Music and Apple News.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,312member
    Sounds like a great decision, less likely that significant "gotchas" impact users and features/improvements get delivered when they're ready instead of when everything else is too. 
    edited February 12 [Deleted User]racerhomie3mike1SpamSandwichrogifan_newmagman1979jony0
  • Reply 2 of 29
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,433member
    Good way to encourage users to update to the latest versions. Offer additional good features in 12.1, 12.2, 12.3, etc.
    magman1979watto_cobralolliver
  • Reply 3 of 29
    Oh no. It’s going to be a continuous drip-drip-drip of intrusiveness, and having to regularly hit “Remind Me Later.”  All for new, cute emojis and font changes. 

    Ugh. 
    muthuk_vanalingamVergiliuslkrupptallest skil
  • Reply 4 of 29
    The present big update with too many new features to keep straight really comes from the time when we purchased updates for Mac OS X. Apple had to justify the charging that money and try to convince us to part with ours with a dozen or so show stoppers. I prefer this new approach and will more likely acquaint myself to these new features as they are released. I have however turned off beta updates to all my devices since they come too fast and furious. 
    bonobobh2pmagman1979watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 5 of 29
    Halle-freaking-lujah!!!! Apple’s annual cycle has been a major handicap for its customers. “Crap, we didn’t get X feature this time, maybe next year!” Now how about some serious upgrades to Siri, stat? Amazon and Google are cleaning Apple’s clock in the voice assistant/home automation areas, despite Apple leading out of the gate. It’s downright embarrassing. What exactly is Apple spending all those R&D billions on???
    h2pJWSC
  • Reply 6 of 29
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,322member
    lkrupp said:
    Good way to encourage users to update to the latest versions. Offer additional good features in 12.1, 12.2, 12.3, etc.
    Makes a lot of sense, and without the massive feature cram then each smaller release should a lot more stable. 
    LukeCagemagman1979watto_cobralolliver
  • Reply 7 of 29
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,600member
    gatorguy said:
    Sounds like a great decision, less likely that significant "gotchas" impact users and features/improvements get delivered when they're ready instead of when everything else is too. 
    Yes, I think this is what they should have done in the first place. Then they can focus on getting it working correctly instead of rushing it out with the next major release. I don't see anything wrong with spreading new features out with dot releases. If anything, it should give incentives for anyone holding back from updating to update. 
    mike1magman1979watto_cobralolliver
  • Reply 8 of 29
    Updates to add to features to iOS first party apps shouldn’t be tied to major releases. They should be treating these apps individually with teams dedicated to it where they can add features, release fix for issues, at anytime when ready and not tie the release to iOS itself.
    bonobobwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 29
    Oh no. It’s going to be a continuous drip-drip-drip of intrusiveness, and having to regularly hit “Remind Me Later.”  All for new, cute emojis and font changes. 

    Ugh. 
    A few thoughts:

    Apple has gotten much better at automating software updates:
    • for developers, recently, many beta releases of the various Apple OSes were updated every few days or weeks
    • the downloads are performed in the background -- eliminating much of the time the user is without the device
    • these mini-releases have been quite reliable
    • much of the various Apple OSes are being rewritten in Swift -- a safer, more predictable, more reliable language
    • on some devices, e.g. the AppleTV, you can schedule automatic updates -- so the user need not be aware of the updates *

    * I suspect that this is how the homePod is updated


    Sometime this year Swift 5 will be released.  A major target for Swift 5 is stable ABI's (Application Binary Interfaces). If this is accomplished, it brings many advantages to both Apple and 3rd-party developers.  One significant advantage is that major portions of code (e.g. the libraries) will not change their interfaces -- and will need to be downloaded only once for a major release.  This means:
    • Apple's software releases will be much smaller, safer, more predictable, more reliable and faster/easier to update
    • the same applies to Apple Apps and 3rd-party Apps

    I don't recall when, at the original release of OSX (or a later release) -- but Steve talked about his goal for a day when new Apple software releases would be automatic, seamless, and transparent to the user.

    It appears that Apple may reach that goal in 2018-2019. 
    edited February 12 tmayRayz2016SpamSandwichwatto_cobrajony0lolliver
  • Reply 10 of 29
    Updates to add to features to iOS first party apps shouldn’t be tied to major releases. They should be treating these apps individually with teams dedicated to it where they can add features, release fix for issues, at anytime when ready and not tie the release to iOS itself.
    I think they're not separate apps in this way because they rely on the underlying OS code, so the apps update when the OS does. If they were separate, they'd have to maintain backward compatibility and testing with some number of previous OS versions.
    watto_cobralolliver
  • Reply 11 of 29
    joe28753 said:
    Updates to add to features to iOS first party apps shouldn’t be tied to major releases. They should be treating these apps individually with teams dedicated to it where they can add features, release fix for issues, at anytime when ready and not tie the release to iOS itself.
    I think they're not separate apps in this way because they rely on the underlying OS code, so the apps update when the OS does. If they were separate, they'd have to maintain backward compatibility and testing with some number of previous OS versions.
    The ABI stability, I mentioned in my earlier post, provides forward/backward compatibility across multiple versions of Swift/OS releases.
    SpamSandwichwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 29
    Oh no. It’s going to be a continuous drip-drip-drip of intrusiveness, and having to regularly hit “Remind Me Later.”  All for new, cute emojis and font changes. 

    Ugh. 
    Right, but we're getting lots of updates anyway for these security updates and other patches.  Might as well get some functionality as well.  Doesn't mean there will be more updates per year.
    SpamSandwichwatto_cobralolliver
  • Reply 13 of 29
    ivanhivanh Posts: 223member
    WAIT! Before moving up to iOS 12.0: 
    - Fix existing iOS and native apps bugs.
    - Enhance functionality and usability of existing Apple native iOS apps.
    - Improve iCloud to meet standards of Dropbox and OneDrive. 
    - Regain original speeds and responsiveness. 
    There are tonnes of works to clean up on iOS 11.3, 11.4, 11.5, 11.6.....
    anantksundaramjdb8167
  • Reply 14 of 29
    Apple, fine. Just please...please do you QA in-house so it “just works” when it is released. This ‘hurry-up and release the next version” develop acceleration is getting to be too much, with each successive release fixing more than it brings new. 
  • Reply 15 of 29
    Hopefully Apple will find a new font that doesn’t require GPU rendering, good battery capacity and 4 active cores.
  • Reply 16 of 29
    Oh no. It’s going to be a continuous drip-drip-drip of intrusiveness, and having to regularly hit “Remind Me Later.”
    I suffer the same update fatigue you're describing, mostly because the number of Apple devices in the house means it becomes a "project" rather than just a task, but then I remind myself what software updates were like before the App Store made it so much easier. Remember having to manually replace (and sometimes even rename) files in various folders? Updating Photoshop with bug fixes was a fifteen minute process that required careful attention. Making a mistake could render it unusable. And all that was dependent on you remembering and steeling yourself to wade through the list of available updates because there was no automatic notification (which also meant having to remember which ones you'd already installed).

    When I start feeling annoyed by updates, I remind myself that the comparatively trivial issue of pressing a button and waiting a few minutes is not an intrusion but a huge improvement over how things used to be.
    SpamSandwichwatto_cobralolliver
  • Reply 17 of 29
    This is absolutely great news! I’m a huge Apple fan, but lately they have stumbled with the software reliability side and also too many things are released as a beta. I don’t like that Apple. I like the reliable Apple that releases stuff when it is ready. There is no point in trying to cram everything into a single update. I also like the idea that they would scatter the release of bigger features across the year. There would always be something to look forward to meaning that we don’t have to wait a whole year to get cool new features. :)
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 29
    i hope apple will do a better job with these updates and how it affects their other devices. recently, each ios update breaks the connection with apple watch and the only solution is unpairing and re-pairing or sometimes resetting the device. it’s a chore and it’s frustrating.
    edited February 12
  • Reply 19 of 29
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,744member
    This is completely in-line with modern software development practices, i.e., continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) as part of an integrated and automated DevOps software development culture. Totally the right thing to do, and not because "all the cool kids" are doing it, but because it results in better tested and higher quality software. CI/CD means that features are always tested as they are developed and integrated into the main release branch rather than being batched up into Big Bang integration events that have too many moving parts to figure out exactly what combination of new things broke the build. This is huge because the release branch is kept in a releasable state at all times and if any incremental new feature breaks the build it can be backed out and reverted immediately. We're talking full suite verification and regression testing being automatically invoked on scales of minutes, hours, and (at worst) days time frames rather than weeks or months. Fixing bugs today that were found today costs 1X. Fixing them six months from now costs at least 10X, and post release fixes to get customers out of a pickle, maybe 100X or even greater. 

    I suspect that Apple's software dev teams have been on this path for quite a while and it's just now that the customer facing marketing and product management teams are coming around to synchronizing their release planning and cadence to the natural flow of the software development organization rather than following ceremony, pomp, and circumstance that evolves around yearly staged events involving Tim Cook and his deputies.

    Good move Apple. 
    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 20 of 29
    Epic (and long) Twitter thread by Steven Sinofsky with respect to Apple and their "software quality" issues. Worth the read: 



    https://twitter.com/stevesi/status/963142502604779520
    edited February 13
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