During WWDC this June, Apple will offer us a preview of the major updates coming to all of its operating systems. But those updates won’t actually arrive until September (in the case of iOS, watchOS and tvOS) or even October or November (for the big macOS update of the year). And these will then be followed by regular bug fixes and security updates for another nine months or so, before it’s time to show off new features at WWDC 2023.
Or at least, that’s how it’ll happen if Apple sticks to the traditional schedule. But recently something has changed: things have started to arrive late.
Better late than never
iOS 15 was released without one of its biggest innovations, SharePlay. And that’s only one of the
missing features, which also included iCloud Private Relay and App Privacy Report.
macOS Monterey, meanwhile, was released without one of the most impressive Mac innovations in recent years,
Universal Control. This lets you move the cursor to another Mac or iPad next to your primary machine, and carry on using the same keyboard: kind of brilliant for those who often have multiple Macs or maybe a Mac and iPad next to each other on the desktop.
But we’ll have to do without it for a while longer. There’s not even a launch date for the long-awaited feature.
These are just two examples of new features that have been delayed until a later, often undefined date. On numerous other occasions, new features first announced at WWDC have been delayed until an x.2 or x.3 point update later on, and sometimes they arrive even later than that.
But this is a good thing, at least if we believe – as surely we must – that the feature in each case isn’t ready for public rollout at the pre-ordained release date. After all, it’s plainly better for a company to wait and do the thing properly than to rush to release something half-baked. And I’d rather be mildly irritated by the delay for something that ends up being worthwhile, than furious over something that doesn’t work at all.
The complexity factor
Apple updates seem to be getting more complex lately. Universal Control is just one such example; Apple’s child safety initiative is another. Some of its projects are technically demanding, others are politically or socially controversial, or liable to
rile up online advertisers, which can lead to pushback and delays.
Moreover, Apple no longer has just one or two different operating systems to maintain; it has Mac, separate platforms for iPad and iPhone, Apple Watch, Apple TV and even HomePod, each of which needs to get its fair share of attention, maintenance and innovation.
So hopefully we can agree that it is understandable that Apple sometimes hits delays with its software rollouts, and justifiable – indeed desirable – for the company to push back the launch schedule when this happens. The problem, really, is one of presentation.
Embrace the chaos
Constant delays, when a feature is slated to arrive on a specific date but goes AWOL, do not inspire confidence. For this reason, it would be better if Apple embraced the idea of scattered, even slightly unpredictable updates. If it’s hard to tell when the feature might actually be ready, don’t give a time window. It’ll be ready when it’s ready. I think users will understand.
And maybe the new normal isn’t so bad: if the owner of an Apple product gets several new features spread across the year, it’s easier for them to assimilate those features into their day-to-day life than when a bunch of features drop in a big blob in the autumn. (It’s also a lot easier for us to write about staggered launches, but we don’t expect Apple to make journalist welfare a priority.)
At any rate, this style of Apple software launch seems to be what we’ll have to get used to in the future, so the company might as well embrace it.
Different Think is a weekly column, published every Tuesday, in which Macworld writers expose their less mainstream opinions to public scrutiny. This article originally appeared on
Macworld Sweden. Translation (using
DeepL) by David Price.