Apple software chief Federighi is overhauling iOS 14 development and testing for greater reliability

Apple is overhauling how the company’s software is beta tested after another round of buggy initial releases.

Mark Gurman for Bloomberg:

Software chief Craig Federighi and lieutenants including Stacey Lysik announced the changes at a recent internal “kickoff” meeting with the company’s software developers. The new approach calls for Apple’s development teams to ensure that test versions, known as “daily builds,” of future software updates disable unfinished or buggy features by default. Testers will then have the option to selectively enable those features, via a new internal process and settings menu dubbed Flags, allowing them to isolate the impact of each individual addition on the system.

When the company’s iOS 13 was released alongside the iPhone 11 in September, iPhone owners and app developers were confronted with a litany of software glitches… The issues show how complex iPhones have become and how easily users can be disappointed by a company known for the smooth integration of hardware and software…

Prior to iOS 14’s development, some teams would add features every day that weren’t fully tested, while other teams would contribute changes weekly… The testing shift will apply to all of Apple’s operating systems, including iPadOS, watchOS, macOS and tvOS. The latest Mac computer operating system, macOS Catalina, has also manifested bugs… Apple executives hope that the overhauled testing approach will improve the quality of the company’s software over the long term. But this isn’t the first time that Apple engineers have heard this from management.

Last year, Apple delayed several iOS 12 features — including redesigns for CarPlay and the iPad home screen — specifically so it could focus on reliability and performance. At an all-hands meeting in January 2018, Federighi said the company had prioritized new features too much and should return to giving consumers the quality and stability that they wanted first.

MacDailyNews Take: What an excellent idea!

Here’s our open letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook dated January 5, 2015:

Dear Mr. Cook,

“It just works.” That’s getting tougher and tougher for us OS X and iOS users to say with straight faces lately.

Apple, while certainly still the best when it comes to desktop and mobile operating systems, needs to do better. Our expectations, some of us as users of Apple products since the early 1980s, are not being met when it comes to the quality and reliability of operating systems, software, and services. Used to be, you could pretty confidently install brand new operating systems from Apple. Recently, we’re more inclined to wait for a few point releases than not. It’s downright Microsoftian. Lately, for the past couple of years, your software seems rushed. Is “rush job” really the impression you want to give your customers?

Slow down! Getting it right is far more important than getting it out.

Frankly, we don’t need a new Mac or iPhone/iPad operating system every year and Apple Inc. doesn’t need it, either. Annual OS releases shouldn’t be mandated. What we all really need, customers and Apple Inc., are operating systems that are rock solid and do what they’re supposed to do when they’re supposed to do it. Why not just add new features/services to existing OSes with continued point releases that refine and extend the experiences and services you want to deliver? Why not just release new operating systems only when they are rock solid and ready?

In other words, take a step back, take a deep breath, and focus on making sure that what you have now just works. Because too much of it doesn’t… Getting it right is far more important than having two “new” free OSes to release each year. Seriously, nobody outside of Cupertino very much cares. We do, however, care very much that Apple’s software and services work as flawlessly as possible…

Bottom line: We long to again be able to confidently say of our Macs, iPhones, and iPads: “It just works.”



Here’s to 14! 13’s unlucky anyway.


  1. And I deplore the flat, thin look of Apple’s anti-skuomorphic UI graphics; It is pessimistic, dour, and depressed. Return to optimism, joy, and playfulness. Give us textures and gradients. Make elements entertaining. Add gamers to the UI staff, then add code efficiency specialists.

  2. I agree that iOS needs a stability focused release, and this should go for macOS too.

    I know someone who has a relatively new (purchased within the last four months) 5k iMac with minimal apps installed who has to hard reboot (system totally locked up and has to press the power button on the back of the iMac to do a hard shut down and hard reboot) on average twice a week (both Mojave and now Catalina). This person even took the iMac to the local Apple store and left it there for two weeks. The geniuses there claimed they could not find anything wrong with the hardware or the software. So this friend is just living with an unstable iMac and wasting a couple hours a week losing work when the system locks up and a hard reboot is required.

    I can remember back in the day when the only time I had to do a reboot on my personal Mac was when I had to do an operating system update/upgrade. Sometimes I’d go many months between reboots.

    Why can’t we have another Snow Leopard? Why can’t we have another macOS update that specifically is meant to make macOS the most stable personal computer operating system out there?

    Hell, I’ve worked with Linux builds that have, for me, been more stable than the most recent builds of macOS!

    We’ve made the shift to a 64-bit operating system and 64-bit applications. Now, Apple, please spend the time and effort to make macOS what it should be!

    1. system totally locked up and has to press the power button on the back of the iMac to do a hard shut down and hard reboot) on average twice a week… This person even took the iMac to the local Apple store and left it there for two weeks. The geniuses there claimed they could not find anything wrong with the hardware or the software.

      Probably not the same cause, but I had that happen to me on my 2012 MBP. After a total fresh OS reinstall and leaving it with Apple for 2 days, where they claimed to be running diagnostic tests the entire time, they couldn’t reproduce the freeze. Not satisfied, I stayed in the store and was able to demonstrate (using only preinstalled Graphing Calculator, so they couldn’t blame 3rd party stuff) it was something to do with running the integrated GPU hot (near 100°C) for even a few seconds. Even after it cooled, a total system freeze was inevitable within minutes. After that, they authorized a warranty replacement.

      I have plenty of IT experience so was able to eventually find and reliably reproduce the issue and force Apple to take responsibility when their own diagnostics couldn’t catch it, but I feel bad for all the regular users not knowing how to demonstrate the problem to Apple’s satisfaction.

  3. I bought a 2019 27” loaded iMac, we have had the mother board replaced, ssd drive and now the fan is bad. It is under apple care. We installed Apple system software many times, installed Apple software so they can find out what is going wrong when we use the iMac. The iMac goes into a very slow mode and runs very very slow and acts like a lock up. Many restarts over and over. I’ve never experienced this with a computer before. Even after all the replacements it goes back to the same very very slow mode. They cant figure it out.
    I want it replaced. This is the heart of my business and months working with this.

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