Apple has temporarily halted work on new features for its upcoming iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and visionOS updates in order to focus on improving quality and eliminating bugs. Software engineering chief Craig Federighi ordered a one-week pause in development last week after internal testing revealed too many ‘escapes’, or bugs, in early versions of the software.
According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, all Apple developers working on next year’s software updates were tasked with fixing known issues and improving performance rather than adding new capabilities. This pause affects OS releases codenamed ‘Crystal’ for iOS 18 and iPadOS 18, ‘Glow’ for macOS 15, ‘Moonstone’ for watchOS 11, and visionOS for the forthcoming Apple Vision Pro headset.
The temporary development freeze comes as Apple has placed greater emphasis on software quality over the past few years. Under Federighi, the company has adopted new processes like ‘feature flags’ to catch bugs earlier and ‘The Pact’ to eliminate regressions. However, as software projects grow more complex with thousands of developers, some issues are still going through internal testing.
With thousands of different Apple employees working on a range of operating systems and devices — that need to work together seamlessly — it’s easy for glitches to crop up. “It’s a problem of 10,000 people typing code and completely breaking the operating system,” one person familiar with the situation said.
By halting new feature work for one week, Apple aims to thoroughly remedy software problems thoroughly, ensuring a smoother experience for users. While this move could marginally delay some product launches, it is not expected to postpone major software releases planned for next fall.
According to Gurman, the pause lifts this week with developers returning their focus to finishing existing features in time for next June’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).
In case you missed it, Apple began rolling out iOS 17.1 to compatible iPhones last week. The update delivers some of the previously announced features that were not available in the initial iOS 17.0 update released in September, such as AirDrop over the Internet.