If you feel like Apple’s release of iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 was 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 only required two updates during the same period. A Bloomberg reporting by Mark Gurman 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 builds will have unfinished and buggy features turned off by default, with options to turn them on individually, which will help Apple isolate new features that cause problems. According to Gurman, so many Apple teams were adding features — and the inevitable bugs — to iOS 13 that the internal test builds were unusable even for Apple testers. Apple has already adopted this new process in the development of iOS 14. However, don’t expect a scaled-down version like iOS 12; Gurman says iOS 14 should have as many features as iOS 13, although Apple plans to push some features beyond the initial release.
Unfortunately, Gurman’s report does not mention that Apple fixes many of the other issues described by former Apple engineer David Shayer in “Six Reasons Why iOS 13 and Catalina Are So Buggy” (October 21, 2019), such as crash reports not including non-crash bugs, triaging less important bugs so they’re never fixed, ignoring older bugs in favor of new ones, and not using bugs as much as possible automated testing. And, perhaps most importantly, iOS will inevitably continue to get more complex. We’re hoping Apple’s new testing procedures will improve things, but we’ll reserve judgment until iOS 14 is released.