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Apple is Postponing Release of New Features To iOS This Year To Focus on Reliability and Performance: Report (axios.com) 106

For a change, Apple plans to not push new features to iOS devices this year so that it could focus on reliability and quality of the software instead, Axios reported on Tuesday. From the report: Apple has been criticized of late, both for security issues and for a number of quality issues, as well as for how it handles battery issues on older devices. Software head Craig Federighi announced the revised plan to employees at a meeting earlier this month, shortly before he and some top lieutenants headed to a company offsite. Pushed into 2019 are a number of features including a refresh of the home screen and in-car user interfaces, improvements to core apps like mail and updates to the picture-taking, photo editing and sharing experiences.
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Apple is Postponing Release of New Features To iOS This Year To Focus on Reliability and Performance: Report

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  • by Blymie ( 231220 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @09:04AM (#56032547)

    The dev model used to be "Steve will yell at you, fire you, berate you, or otherwise ensure that you didn't fuck up constantly".

    That's over with, good or bad.

    The new dev model clearly isn't up to snuff, so just pausing -- stopping new development, won't work. The entire development model must be fixed, and quite honestly some people don't produce, or produce well, without someone looking over their shoulder and yelling.

    NOTE: if you take objection to that statement, then you're likely 'part of the non-producers'. Good devs exist, a whole boat load of them, but it only takes one dev claiming to properly test, follow coding guidelines, and 'being a prick' to sour a whole team.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Or it could be management cutting corners to get new stuff out. After all Apple can't be seen to be playing catch-up
      • There was a rush to get the iPhone X and iOS 11 out before the Christmas rush. I expect Apple put all its focus on the hardware to prevent something gates, to make sure the hardware was of the highest quality it could get. But that meant the Software was rushed and not properly focused.

    • Horray for Apple!

      I detest the continuous introduction of useless and stupid bells and whistles and new "features" being pushed on me.

      Instead, they want to fix problems and make the machine run better? I'm all for it.

      • Horray for Apple!

        I detest the continuous introduction of useless and stupid bells and whistles and new "features" being pushed on me.

        Instead, they want to fix problems and make the machine run better? I'm all for it.

        They may be working on some improvements to their quality program, but make no mistake as to who Apple is beholden to; Greed.

        Shareholders will demand they continue to release hardware with pointless features if it so much as hints to generating more revenue.

        And you, the consumer, no longer matter. Profit matters, which explains the last few years of pointless features that no one asked for.

      • Instead, they want to fix problems and make the machine run better? I'm all for it.

        Too bad they haven't been doing this all along. Nobody has been clamoring for new features on their phones, but everyone has been asking for more stability and battery life.

        • Hey pal! Animojis are DA BOMB! They are single-handedly responsible for Apple's meteoric stock rise since the introduction of the iPhone X. Everybody wants it and everybody who doesn't want it are luddites who didn't understand the genius of Microsoft B.O.B and probably hated Clippy too!
    • Except that this is hardly unprecedented at Apple, even during the Reign of the Steve.

      Remember OS X 10.5 "Leopard" ? Followed by OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard" which, when introduced at WWDC, was claimed to be entirely motivated by "build a better Leopard" ?

      They succeeded too. 10.6.x was an excellent release, only slightly tarnished by the absence of ZFS which was yanked out at literally the last minute due to not being able to come to terms with Sun.

      • And OS X 10.6, Snow Leopard, is still being viewed as one of the best OS X version to date by a lot of people.

        • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

          By a fairly large margin. They spent two entire years doing basically nothing but fixing bugs. It was a two-year, essentially zero-feature release cycle. If Apple did that with iOS and OS X again, they would end up with an amazingly solid OS on which to build new features. Of course, it remains to be seen whether they'll have the courage to delay their annual release cycle for even half a year, much less two years.

        • Fuck Leopards. I'm holding out for Sharks with Lasers release.
    • The new dev model clearly isn't up to snuff, so just pausing -- stopping new development, won't work. The entire development model must be fixed

      I agree that there are definitely problems plaguing Apple but I do believe that this is better than doing nothing. Software quality at Apple is at an all time low. Their devs don't seem to understand how to do things like cherry-pick security fixes from the current OS version into the next OS version, or to even do basic usability testing of their own work to make sure they didn't break something. Perhaps they'll figure out basic development skills while they're having to fix all their mistakes.

    • Agreed. This "pause to work on quality" approach leads to a "Mission Accomplished" attitude when developers go back to "real" feature work, where attitudes and approaches never changed. And with new features right on deck and waiting, they'll be right back where they were inside of two years. If they want success, they need to adopt something like *gasp* Microsoft's trustworthy computing initiative from a number of years ago, where the attitude permeates everything they do.
    • by skribble ( 98873 )

      Or it could be...

      Modern system development is complex in a way that most developers will never realize.
      Finding the right balance between performance, economy, scale and security.
      Dealing with hardware, software, and network issues, the didn't exist, were unknown, or unexploitable a few years ago.
      Coordinating an ever changing ecosystem.

      Even under Steve Apple had been known to step back and make releases that focused on exactly this type of stuff.

    • NOTE 2: A lot of the good devs at Apple who made the iPhone and OSX have left the company. Most of them have a lot of money now.
    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      The dev model used to be "Steve will yell at you, fire you, berate you, or otherwise ensure that you didn't fuck up constantly".

      Actually the model of "His Steveness will magically spin away any failures" has failed. Iphones were always this bad (crashing, bugs, design flaws like Antenna-gate) but they were always hand-waved away by Apple's cult of personality. Now the cult of personality has gone and the RDF with it people are realising they aren't actually that great at all. Worse still, Apple has lost all of its power over "news" sites (read: buzzfeed style blogs), now they're no longer desperate to slobber over Apple's phallus be

  • Agile (Score:5, Funny)

    by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @09:20AM (#56032591) Homepage Journal
    This doesn't sound very Agile. Customers need new versions of software every few months. It doesn't matter if the software works, or is secure. The most important thing is to complete the Sprints to get to a release milestone and to a release. Customers really want that more than anything else.
    • by tsqr ( 808554 )

      This doesn't sound very Agile. Customers need new versions of software every few months. It doesn't matter if the software works, or is secure. The most important thing is to complete the Sprints to get to a release milestone and to a release. Customers really want that more than anything else.

      That cries out for a Dilbert. [dilbert.com]

    • by ImdatS ( 958642 )

      I assume you meant it with a tongue-in-cheek...

      Apple's software quality went south drastically the last 3-4 years and the last years it even accelerated (I mean the "going downhill"). Especially macOS is so buggy now that it is becoming a nightmare. Unfortunately, it is the "best of all bad systems", so there are (at least for me) no other options.

      I for one welcome the focus on software-quality, including also iOS (the last few days I was close to throwing out the window multiple iPhones because of shitty e

      • Define "quality". They have been hitting all their milestones and releases.
        • Except that "new feature X is available" is not equal to "new feature X is completely bug-free".

        • by ImdatS ( 958642 )

          "Quality" = (in this case) Delivering a feature as expected by the user and not with lots of bugs attached.

          Any new feature that you introduce needs to be accepted by the users, otherwise you can forget it - it is just "cost" (=Waste of Time). If the software is so buggy that I can't actually use it anymore, than they have not delivered anything and thus haven't met their deadlines.

          At least, this is my personal opinion and values while developing software for the last 30+ years...

    • I see that you're a javascript developer.

  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @09:28AM (#56032627)

    I do not begrudge Apple, but I have never been impressed by their products, mostly because of refusal by Apple to inter-operate with other devices. Am I alone?

    • by amalcolm ( 1838434 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @09:35AM (#56032663)
      I don't know. I've always refused to inter-operate with their products.
    • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

      I do not begrudge Apple, but I have never been impressed by their products, mostly because of refusal by Apple to inter-operate with other devices. Am I alone?

      Nah, there are plenty of people who complain about Apple's "walled garden" and then go fire up their proprietary game console to play some Mario Kart or Call of Duty.

    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @10:59AM (#56033223)

      You own non-Apple devices. You're doing it wrong.

    • Nope. I've never considered buying Apple stuff and the primary reason is that their philosophy has always been to only play nice with themselves.
      I do not want to be beholden to any single company so I try to use hardware and software with support for open standards and that are as open as possible.
    • I've been repeatedly accused of being an Apple fangrrl on Slashdot because I've tended to argue in favour of Apple. But the thing is, if I'm a fan of anything, I'm a fan of no bullshit.

      The thing is, when you compare iOS to android (and I'm talking versions prior to the most recent), iOS has always been generally superior.

      Android's biggest selling feature is that it gives you the most control. However, that's not entirely true. It gave google and app developers the most control. You... not so much.
      As a r

  • Software bugs (security, reliability or otherwise) are symptoms of a failed software development process. Pausing a flawed software development process to fix the bugs that the flawed development process has created is not a solution, it is a Band-Aid®.

    .
    Apple needs to fix its software development process.

    • by skribble ( 98873 )

      LOL. What a massive bunch of overly generalized proverbial nonsense. In a complex system (especially a fairly general purpose OS ecosystem) no matter what your process is, you can not test for every use case. Additionally, even Apple does not control it's whole ecosystem. For example, how does Apple's development process anticipate low level hardware issues like Meltdown or Spector? Seriously, nobody who has ever done this sort of thing would make such a statement. That's not to say that there aren't proces

      • ... you can not test for every use case. ...

        Well, for starters... why not? If you have a use case, why not test for it. But more to my comment, you cannot test quality into a product, as you imply.

        .
        May I suggest some reading material --- Software Testing Techniques by Boris Beizer. It's an oldie, but a goodie. :) Perhaps you'll learn something about software testing, and stop making excuses for Apple's failings.

        • Besides a generalized dismissal of the poster's question, could you answer his specific one: How would you have anticipated Meltdown and Spectre considering that they affect hardware that Apple does not control? Also please be specific as to why your solution should have been anticipated by every single OS out there like Linux, Windows, BSD, and MacOS.
          • ... How would you have anticipated Meltdown and Spectre considering that they affect hardware that Apple does not control? ...

            I said, "Software bugs (security, reliability or otherwise) are symptoms of a failed software development process." Did Apple's process cause Meltdown and Spectre? I doubt it. So my comment doesn't apply to Apple. However, it does apply to Intel (et alia).

            .
            btw, that book I recommended is a good one. :)

            • by skribble ( 98873 )

              Meltdown and Specter present a good illustration in the complexity of computer science and why no amount testing, or process, or methodology, etc. can solve all the problems.

              Speculative execution is a performance feature, not limited to Intel processors. This was intentionally built into many modern processors (and in and of itself is really pretty cool).

              At least it was a feature until it was discovered it could be exploited.

              • ...Meltdown and Specter present a good illustration in the complexity of computer science and why no amount testing, or process, or methodology, etc. can solve all the problems....

                Who said anything about solving all problems, especially those that originate outside of one's control?

              • The notion of exploiting speculative execution was known and in public academic conferences many years ago when these chips were being designed. AMD took measures seriously and the hardware plugged the biggest holes, at a performance cost. Intel took the riskier path for greater performance and sales, until the shit hit the fan.

                It wasn't a lack of knowledge, it was a lack of will and ethics on Intel's part.
            • So you don't have an answer but would still like to take a swipe at Apple that every single OS developer failed to anticipate? Or could it be in this case, they simply could not have seen it coming?
              • ...So you don't have an answer but would still like to take a swipe at Apple that every single OS developer failed to anticipate?...

                I don't have an answer to what?

              • ... take a swipe at Apple that every single OS developer failed to anticipate? ...

                And for the record, I did not take a swipe at Apple for failing to anticipate the Spectre/Meltdown problems. Indeed, I did place the blame for those problems with Intel (et alia).

                • This is what you wrote when the poster noted how Apple could not have anticipated hardware security flaws.

                  "Perhaps you'll learn something about software testing, and stop making excuses for Apple's failings."

                  Software testing is only as good as the test case. The poster noted that if there is no test case like unforeseen, unknown hardware security problems, how can software testing overcome that beforehand? For example, these days software testing tests for buffer overflows but I would bet money that no one really did that decades ago. If Apple releases shoddy designed software it's on them but don't be so q

                  • ...This is what you wrote when the poster noted how Apple could not have anticipated hardware security flaws....

                    You're misquoting me, please stop.

                    .
                    The comment to which you refer was written in response to the poster's comment, "you can not test for every use case," not that Apple could not have anticipated hardware security flaws. Indeed, I was not even thinking about the Spectre/Meltdown problems until the other poster brought them up. They have been an unfortunate tangent on this thread, seemingly being used to draw attention away from Apple's apparent software development problem.

                    Regarding Apple's problem, I

                    • This is what you wrote:

                      Software bugs (security, reliability or otherwise) are symptoms of a failed software development process. Pausing a flawed software development process to fix the bugs that the flawed development process has created is not a solution, it is a Band-Aid®.
                      .,
                      Apple needs to fix its software development process.

                      To which the other poster pointed out two very specific explains of Spectre and Meltdown which were at the hardware level that Apple could not have anticipated nor tested against. These two examples were also not countered by other OS makers including Linux, Windows, and BSD (which I find to have the highest security and reliability testing).

                      And you responded:

                      Well, for starters... why not? If you have a use case, why not test for it. But more to my comment, you cannot test quality into a product, as you imply.

                      May I suggest some reading material --- Software Testing Techniques by Boris Beizer. It's an oldie, but a goodie. :) Perhaps you'll learn something about software testing, and stop making excuses for Apple's failings.

                      Please cite where I misquoted you. Or did you make a poor generalization regarding Apple software testing and were called out

        • by skribble ( 98873 )

          You can't test for every use case, because there is no way to anticipate every functional use case in a general purpose OS. The fact that you don't recognize that indicates you are way out of league here.

          The book you site is a good book, but I'm not going to get into a pissing contest about who know what, because it's not worth my time. Besides the "making excuses for Apple's failings." seems to indicate this is more of fundementalist platform battle for you. You probably aren't really interested in facts h

  • Being mostly out of the Apple ecosystem, I was surprised the other day when I was driven by a friend. She was answering calls without using the hands-free Bluetooth car connection, and I asked her why. She told me that she had forgotten the charging cable at home, and that keeping the bluetooth on would drain the battery faster, and battery didn't last very long, as, you know, she added apologetically, "my phone it's an Apple".

    I'd put my friend as a typical Apple user: well-off and absolutely not technicall

    • by dj245 ( 732906 )

      Being mostly out of the Apple ecosystem, I was surprised the other day when I was driven by a friend. She was answering calls without using the hands-free Bluetooth car connection, and I asked her why. She told me that she had forgotten the charging cable at home, and that keeping the bluetooth on would drain the battery faster, and battery didn't last very long, as, you know, she added apologetically, "my phone it's an Apple".

      I'd put my friend as a typical Apple user: well-off and absolutely not technically oriented, She will probably keep buying iPhones, as her computers are all from Apple, and learning new things is a hassle. But anyway I found it curious to find a typical Apple user apologizing for her choice of smartphone. That's not how Apple got to the top, and, even if it's just anecdotal evidence, has a sound of bells tolling in the distance.

      So I'd suppose that Apple has to take that into account and improve it's battery-consumption act.

      The battery issues are just one problem among many. IOS 11 broke bluetooth compatability with my car, and there are other people with the same problem. [apple.com] I can't for the life of me figure out how they could break something so fundamental to a modern phone. The issue still hasn't been fixed, and Apple seems to be pointing the finger at the car companies to update the vehicle firmware. As if that is a viable solution.

      • The issue still hasn't been fixed, and Apple seems to be pointing the finger at the car companies to update the vehicle firmware. As if that is a viable solution.

        So now the car is holding the phone wrong?

      • I am also one of those people. In my case, I can no longer use Hey Siri, although inexplicably, it works fine if I activate Siri using the home button.

        It's as if no one at Apple actually drives a car. I can't think of any other explanation as to how they can suggest we update the car's firmware, while keeping a straight face.

        As I've mentioned in another post, I'm going to wait for the next gen of Android phones that include Project Treble, and then I'm likely going to be jumping ship.

        Apple has lately been

    • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @10:36AM (#56033067) Homepage

      Every single time an Apple user tells me how great their phone is, I realise that they just didn't understand that ALL phones do that, that there are easier ways, that there's no need to pay through the nose to do those things, or that they didn't realise certain things were even possible because "Apple doesn't have that".

      I have personally never found a selling point for an Apple device over their competitors, certainly not one that justifies the price difference. But people are happy to live in ignorance because they don't actually buy the device to do those things, they buy the device to go on YouTube occasionally or order their shopping or stick the kids on a game. And there, pretty much, you don't require any particular specialities and everything else is just a "toy" to play with.

      Apple is a designer brand sold on the fact that "I've heard Apple are better". I've yet to find that to be true, however, but most people spend a lot of money on an Apple device, use it for everything they were ever going to anyway (i.e. not very much) and are happy that it does that. Fair play to them. But in terms of VALUE for money, I can't even begin to justify that over any other device.

      • Every single time an android user tells me how great their phone is, I realize that they just didn't understand that ALL phones do that, that there are easier ways, that there's no need to pay through the nose to do those things, or that they didn't realize certain things were even possible because "android doesn't have that".
        I have personally never found a selling point for an android device over their competitors, certainly not one that justifies the price difference. But people are happy to live in ignor

      • Apple iPhone: $700
        iOS: okay, I guess
        available apps: no better than Android, mostly
        not sending all your data to Google: priceless

  • Agile would say you test continuously. But I've found in practice that as an org grows in size and teams work (more) independently - that the integration areas become brittle when the teams don't work together. Usually due to competing priorities. As an iOS user I have noted the high rate of new bugs - and seemingly orphaned technologies that just don't work together (yeah - and what's up with Siri -- "she" is still only good for scheduling meetings, unless you live in Derry and then every meeting has a

    • And by brittle I will also include product functionality. One team treating conceptual stuff differently. The two features don't work together - both technically and/or functionally.

    • Yes, since Agile says you test continuously it must mean that the software is working properly. Otherwise it just means you are running the same tests over and over again with the same inputs. That would be meaningless, and we know that Agile isn't meaningless.
  • by mrun4982 ( 3875585 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @09:54AM (#56032793)
    After nearly 2 decades in this business and having been forced to use every flavor of the month software process (and even having to follow DO-178 in the aviation industry and having to test to 100% code coverage), I've learned there's only one thing that matters when it comes to the quality of your code... how good your engineers are.

    Good engineers write less bugs than bad engineers and no software development practice is going to change that. How long your sprints are, having software reviews before every checkin, forcing people to write tons of tests, waterfall vs agile, blah blah blah. That's all B.S. and doesn't mean a damn thing. You want high quality software? Then fire your bad engineers and hire better ones.

    Focusing on bugs is not necessarily a bad thing but that's not going to fix the problem at Apple.
    • That seems doubtful. Why do you need quality people when you have Agile and a certified Scrum Master? They are certified so they must be good.
    • You want high quality software? Then fire your bad engineers and hire better ones.

      No number of crappy programmers put together on one team will ever produce quality code. But it only takes one bad manager to completely ruin the productivity of a whole bunch of good programmers (or whatever.)

  • by omfglearntoplay ( 1163771 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @10:12AM (#56032901)

    Definitely the right idea. Security and stability matter a great deal to most people, informed or not. Take your car example. Toyota and Lexus are extremely popular for the average Joe or the person with money to waste, in the US or in other countries that do business with Japan. Why? Reliability/stability is the main common theme. And with techie devices, like phones, security is basically another measure of reliability/stability.

    If Apple wants to keep it's name clean, it had better get things RIGHT. The one big selling point is their stuff is fast and doesn't break much (isn't compromised much). If they don't do that correctly, why not get the competitors?

  • by Plumpaquatsch ( 2701653 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @10:58AM (#56033219) Journal
    There are new features in iOS 11.3: http://www.iphonehacks.com/2018/01/ios-11-3-features.html [iphonehacks.com] - heck people have complained about some of the new features here on Slashdot already https://apple.slashdot.org/sto... [slashdot.org]
  • And probably 5 years running too.

  • It certainly seems like Apple isn't the only one with this problem. The entire tech industry seems based around relentless production of new versions with flimsy features no one wanted, often sacrificing more than just stability but valued features that users make extensive use of.

    I'm kind of convinced that the technology industry turned to consolidation to eliminate competition and is just using feature/version revisions to force users into paying for support or upgrades to keep up profits. Actual growth

  • Improved reliability and stability is good.
    Improved backward compatibility and legacy support would be even better.
    Apple needs to stop killing off apps by changing the OS (iOS & MacOS) such that it orphans legacy software. We still need to use the tools we used yesterday, last year, last decade, last century, last millenia (wow, we're in a time we can say all that!)

  • How about Apple producing a new Mac Mini. Or a Mac Pro. Or any reasonable computer for those who already have a display?

A bug in the hand is better than one as yet undetected.

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