During Tuesday’s Apple Event, CEO Tim Cook casually mentioned that the next version of iOS, the operating system that runs the very popular iPhone, would be upgraded to iOS 14 the following day.
This caught me by surprise. And apparently, it caught developers all over the world by surprise as well.
The beta versions of iOS 14 have been available to developers, and later the general public willing to do some testing, for several months. Generally, Apple would release a GM or “Gold Master” to these testers, indicating they were ready to release their latest endeavor to the general population and the GM is the version they’re going to ship. Releasing a GM a week ahead of time gives app developers some time to wrap up the modifications for their apps for the new version of the operating system so that when it releases to the general public, everything should be working properly for all involved.
Tim’s announcement gave developers less than 24 hours to achieve this feat. Marketing beat out practicality. Again. This is how we do it now. It’s just part of our societal regression.
As a software engineer, it’s my goal to make sure there are as few bugs as possible when software is released. This used to be the credo of everyone that worked in the business. However, as time has gone on and computer use has become ubiquitous, the standards for quality software releases seem to have been lowered in favor of marketing hype. “We must keep the masses engaged with shiny new software!”. Instead of having all the bugs squashed for a major release, companies now aim to fix the bugs in an incremental release shortly afterwards. Smart users will probably wait for iOS 14.1.
Since I was already running the public beta, I went ahead and installed the Gold Master on my iPhone and iPad.
I have run across a couple of bugs that were not present in the beta releases leading up to this week’s Gold Master / Public release. For example, when trying to add an app subscription to my account, the Face ID prompt on my iPad Pro does its thing as it scans my face but then the Face ID icon just sits in the middle of the screen. Seemingly, this icon will remain for infinity, or at least until the battery runs out. If I touch the icon it shoots off the screen at a jaunty angle but the subscription request never completes.
This is not how production quality software should be behaving.
Earlier I mentioned the words “societal decline”. Society in general has lowered their expectations to the point where mediocrity gets a standing ovation. Cell phone conversations are of a lower quality than their wired telephone counterparts using equipment from the mid 20th century. People have become accustomed to rebooting their major appliances as timers with relays and cams have given way to delicate circuit boards prone to power spikes. With a decaying power grid, this is an issue.
I’m saddened to see Apple go off into the mediocre weeds with the rest of society. With their premium prices I’ve always held them to the standard associated with higher priced purchases. But when evaluating the quality of what Apple puts out today with the quality of what other tech companies put out today, Apple is still grasping for a higher lowered bar.
I guess I’m getting old. I miss the days when people took pride in their work.