How Apple is Revamping Its Software Development Cycle

Mark Gurman, reporting for Bloomberg:

Instead of keeping engineers on a relentless annual schedule and cramming features into a single update, Apple will start focusing on the next two years of updates for its iPhone and iPad operating system, according to people familiar with the change. The company will continue to update its software annually, but internally engineers will have more discretion to push back features that aren't as polished to the following year.

Software chief Craig Federighi laid out the new strategy to his army of engineers last month, according to a person familiar with the discussion. His team will have more time to work on new features and focus on under-the-hood refinements without being tied to a list of new features annually simply so the company can tout a massive year-over-year leap, people familiar with the situation say. The renewed focus on quality is designed to make sure the company can fulfill promises made each summer at the annual developers conference and that new features work reliably and as advertised.

As John Gruber notes, Apple's shift of its development system seems to be tacit acknowledgment of the software issues of the past few years—either things are bug-ridden, or, in the case of Messages for iCloud, don't ship on time. It's likely the company's senior executives are keenly aware of what's been made about this in the media and by developers, so as Gruber also notes, Gurman's story seems to reflect that.

The only real bummer in this report, however, is the mention of some neat iPad-centric features that are being pushed back to 2019. If this comes to pass, it'll be a real buzzkill for iPad enthusiasts like myself who hoped Apple would keep its foot on the gas in terms of iPad software development. Waiting a year for more features would suck.