Culture

How Apple's Going to Fix The Next iOS Update

9to5Mac has the story:

For 2015, iOS 9 is going to include a collection of under-the-hood improvements. Sources tell us that iOS 9 engineers are putting a “huge” focus on fixing bugs, maintaining stability, and boosting performance for the new operating system, rather than solely focusing on delivering major new feature additions. Apple will also continue to make efforts to keep the size of the OS and updates manageable, especially for the many millions of iOS device owners with 16GB devices.

It’s unclear whether this might be accomplished by limiting iOS 9 support to relatively recent devices. If the iPhone 5c, original iPad mini, and fifth-generation iPod touch are discontinued by the end of 2015, all of Apple’s “currently available” iOS devices would be using 64-bit A7, A8, and A9 processors. This could simplify iOS development for both Apple and third-party app developers.

Like Snow Leopard, iOS 9 will be pitched with stability as a tentpole component, but under-the-hood enhancements will not be the only feature.

All I can say is: It’s time — and I hope the do the same thing for this year’s OS X 10.11 release.

Apple’s annual release schedule makes for a great big splash, debuting new iPhones and iPads each fall, running the very latest version of iOS. But that schedule has taken its toll on the operating system, which still “just works,” but really needs the latest and greatest hardware to just work well in some cases. My iPhone 5S never even ha a hiccup, but my early-2012 iPad with Retina Display chokes on Javascript-heavy webpages.* You can turn off Javascript, and I usually do, although that limits the functionality of many sites.

The annual release schedule could easily take a breather for Macs, which are slaves to Intel’s schedule, rather than to the autumn iDevice reveal. As the story notes, Apple kinda-sorta took a release cycle off with Snow Leopard. Instead of introducing big new features, Snow Leopard focused on stability and bug fixes, as well as completing the move to 64-bit architecture. Much as I love Yosemite, something like “Snow Yosemite” would be welcome.

Operating systems, even mobile ones, are big, complex beasts. Apple would be smart — Microsoft and Google, too — by moving to a “tick-tock” release schedule like Intel does with CPUs. The “tock” generation of chips introduces a new architecture, but the next “tick” generation is just a die-shrink. Some automakers do much the same thing. An all-new model might come with an existing engine, then two or three year later, an all-new engine goes into the mid-model refresh. Engines and models are each on, say, a six-year replacement cycle, but staggered. This year’s iOS/OS X/Android/Windows has big new features, next year’s version concentrates on making it “just work.”

It would be bad for the sales brochures, but better for Apple, Windows, and Android users to get off the annual BIG NEW FEATURES annual cycle and on to a “tick-tock” biannual cycle.

*The A5X SOC at the heart of the early-2012 iPad was barely able to keep up with that brilliant 3-million-pixel display. But it’s obvious that either the latest version of Apple’s Nitro Javascript engine was never properly tuned for the A5X, or that the A5X is swamped trying to run that Retina display and a crapload of Javascript. Either way, I ordered an iPad Air 2 the other day, and won’t have to worry about it any longer, just as soon as UPS gets here with my shiny new toy.

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Crossposted from Vodkapundit