Today, Apple releases most of the major annual updates to its operating systems – with the exception of macOS Big Sur. iOS 14, iPadOS 14, tvOS 14, and watchOS 7 are rolling out today (and tomorrow in some regions) for users around the world, all day.
The timing is unusual this time. Apple usually starts operating system updates a few days after the product announcement live stream in September, which are usually closely linked to the release of new iPhones. However, with no iPhones announced this week, Apple released these updates just a day after the event and a day before the expected arrival of the new Apple Watch and eighth-generation iPad in the hands of users.
iOS 14 introduces important new features for managing the home screen and app for iPhone. It supports the home screen widgets introduced in iPadOS last year and a new app library view that makes it easier to manage all of the installed apps on one control panel. Add to this system-wide picture-in-picture support for video – another feature inherited from iPadOS – and a number of significant improvements to messages, maps and other applications, as well as a new live translation app.
watchOS 7 renames the workouts app “Fitness” and doubles the new strength training functions. The operating system also adds a feature that enables users to ensure that they are washing their hands properly and for a reasonable amount of time. Perhaps most importantly, watchOS 7 offers sleep tracking – an important feature available in many competing fitness wearables, but not in the Apple Watch.
iPadOS 14 extends the widgets function compared to last year’s version and offers a number of small design optimizations throughout the operating system. And tvOS 14 extends home functionality and support for multiple users, adding picture-in-picture support.
The quick start that frustrated the developer
The immediate timing of its release may seem positive to consumers demanding new features, but it has been extremely disruptive to developers. With these important annual operating system releases, developers often need to make changes to their apps to either meet new requirements or to support features added to the operating system or restarted devices. Developers had access to beta versions in which these functions were introduced and optimized for a few months – eight beta versions to be precise.
However, the final testing and submission preparation is usually done when the Golden Master update is sent to developers. The golden master is said to be almost exactly the same as the final public version of the operating system, especially for this purpose of testing and filing.
But by the time of those launches, the developers had less than a full day with the Golden Master before the release, resulting in many late nights, delayed releases, and noisy frustration.
In the midst of the chaos, Apple yesterday posted a notice on its developer portal asking developers, “Make sure your apps are ready when iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 are available to customers worldwide.” This note came with no acknowledgment that it would be nigh on impossible for many given the time frame.
Because of this, users should expect more issues with third-party apps in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 at startup, and expect to see some updates related to the new version coming a few days later than usual this year.
As always, we are working on a review of the new version. We expect to see our iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 review late next week.