Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Bloomberg: Development Process Changes at Apple Seek to Reduce Bugs in Future Software Releases

Mark Gurman, Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. is overhauling how it tests software after a swarm of bugs marred the latest iPhone and iPad operating systems, according to people familiar with the shift.

Software chief Craig Federighi and lieutenants including Stacey Lysik announced the changes at a recent internal “kickoff” meeting with the company’s software developers. The new approach calls for Apple’s development teams to ensure that test versions, known as “daily builds,” of future software updates disable unfinished or buggy features by default. Testers will then have the option to selectively enable those features, via a new internal process and settings menu dubbed Flags, allowing them to isolate the impact of each individual addition on the system.

The news in this story is not that Apple has added a system to hide unfinished changes and new features. Such a process is already in place; that’s how they try to prevent unannounced stuff from showing up in external builds. Nor is it particularly newsworthy that Apple is working on iOS 14. Gurman provides no details about the release, other than writing that it will “rival iOS 13 in the breadth of its new capabilities”, despite the HTML page title implying that the article describes iOS 14 features.

The news seems to be entirely contained in this sentence:

The new approach calls for Apple’s development teams to ensure that test versions, known as “daily builds,” of future software updates disable unfinished or buggy features by default.

From the outside, this feels like something of a rehash of the internal meeting after iOS 11’s similarly buggy release. Federighi announced that the company was pushing features scheduled for iOS 12 into the following year so that there would be a renewed focus on quality. It’s worrying that this is an issue that needs to be emphasized again, and so soon.