If you’ve felt that Apple’s release of iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 has been exceptionally troubled, you’re not alone. iOS 13 has had more updates—eight in total, if you count the iOS 13.2.1 update for the HomePod—in its first two months than any of its predecessors. iOS 12 required only two updates in the same time period. A Bloomberg report by Mark Gurman has revealed that Apple knew internally that iOS 13 was a mess even before the company announced it at WWDC in June 2019.
According to Gurman, Apple is now changing its testing procedures in response. Daily test versions will have unfinished and buggy features disabled by default, with options to enable them individually, which will help Apple isolate which new features are causing problems. According to Gurman, so many teams at Apple were adding features—along with the inevitable bugs—to iOS 13 that the internal test versions were unusable even to Apple testers. Apple has already adopted this new process in the development of iOS 14. However, don’t expect a scaled-back release like iOS 12; Gurman says that iOS 14 is expected to have as many features as iOS 13, even though Apple is planning to push some features beyond the initial release.
Unfortunately, Gurman’s report doesn’t mention Apple addressing many of the other problems outlined by former Apple engineer David Shayer in “Six Reasons Why iOS 13 and Catalina Are So Buggy” (21 October 2019), such as crash reports not including non-crashing bugs, triaging less important bugs such that they’re never fixed, ignoring older bugs in favor of new ones, and not using automated tests as much as possible. And—perhaps most important—iOS will inevitably continue to become more complex. We hope Apple’s new testing procedures will make things better, but we’re reserving judgment until iOS 14 ships.