The next iPhone is almost a year away, but even so, current issues within Apple may affect what’s coming, or even when. This is put no more strongly at the moment than “won’t noticeably postpone” the release, but we’ll see what happens in the coming months.
According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman in his latest Power On newsletter, in late October, Craig Federighi took the decision to freeze development of iOS 18. Federighi heads up software engineering, and apparently decided to “debug the software and improve performance” rather than develop the software further.
This is happens rarely, Gurman says. Well, it takes courage to do such a thing, but sorting problems and ousting glitches now is time well spent, rather than letting them affect quality later on.
Gurman points out that the iPhone 16 series hardware will be similar to the iPhone 15, he believes, so snappy new software will be even more important. If that’s true—and we’ve already heard rumors of new buttons on the iPhone 16 Pro Max which suggest it’s not quite right—then this pause is worth its weight.
And it would make sense given that it’s iOS 18 that is likely to promise the integration of generative AI capabilities into Apple devices, according to recent reports. Gurman also claims that’s the case, saying: “The next generation of Apple’s software—iOS 18 and other operating systems due next year—is even more critical than usual. The company is racing to catch up with Google and OpenAI in generative AI, and iOS 18 is poised to bring such technology to the iPhone.”
This isn’t the first time this pause has happened, though. Apparently, it last took place in 2019, when Apple changed its software development procedures.
The moment has been taken, it seems, at the point that Apple hit an early milestone in the development cycle, having completed internal versions of “the biggest new features”. A good time to take stock, then.
According to Gurman, there are four such milestones before Apple reveals what it’s been working on to the world at the company’s June event, the World Wide Developers Conference.
So, will this week of glitch removal delay the release of the next iPhones, which need to have the new software on day one? Gurman doesn’t seem convinced, saying, “As of right now, the one-week stoppage probably won’t noticeably postpone the ultimate release of the software. At worst, it will give Apple a little less time at the end of the development cycle to eliminate any last-minute glitches.”
By “noticeably postpone,” I’m guessing he means that Apple could release the iPhones a week later than it intended: after all, it won’t announce the date until late August next year.
And, as he says, there’s good news in this development hiatus as, “the move shows Apple is taking quality as seriously as ever.” He also goes on to say that Apple’s senior management have high hopes for iOS 18, and the relevant software versions for iPad, Mac and Watch, as well, describe the updates as “ambitious and compelling.”
Which is something we can all look forward to.