Apple's work on next year's iOS 18 update has reportedly hit a delay, as an initial version of the software update apparently had far too many bugs to proceed.
But before you begin fretting about what this means for the next major update to Apple's iPhone software, take a deep breath. the delay reportedly won't push back the fall 2024 release of iOS 18, and it actually suggests that Apple is taking steps to release more polished versions of its software.
Reports of a pause in iOS 18 development come from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, who's well-sourced when it comes to all the doings in Cupertino. The report also provides a pretty insightful look into Apple's internal process for software launches.
Apple's work on future updates begins almost immediately after the current software goes live. With iOS 17 reaching a global audience in September, that means Apple turned its attention internally to work on iOS 18 soon after. An initial version of the iOS 18 update hit its first major milestone in October, according to Gurman's report.
But the report goes on to detail problems with that initial internal release. Specifically, Apple software engineers found too many bugs in that release, so executive paused development on new features in order to clean up the software.
It's not just iOS 18 that was impacted. iPadOS 18 and macOS 15 were found to have too many bugs too, and the halt on new development also applies to watchOS 11 as well as the next version of visionOS for Apple's upcoming Vision Pro headset. Work on iOS 17.4 has been delayed as well, though from the public's point of view, we've only just gotten our hands on the iOS 17.2 public beta. So iOS 17.4 wasn't arriving any time in 2023 to begin with.
Why iOS 18 pause is good news
There's some good news in all of this. Even with the halt in development of new features, Gurman says that there's no impact on the ultimate release schedule for iOS 18 or other software currently under development. That would mean we're still on track to get a preview of iOS 18 during next year's Worldwide Developer Conference, which we'd expect to take place in June. The full release of the new iOS version in the fall also appears to be on schedule, Apple's current halt notwithstanding.
While it's always jarring to read reports about buggy software, it's important to remember we're nearly a year out from iOS 18's eventual release. Also, as someone who's been reviewing iOS updates for the better part of a decade, I'm actually encouraged that Apple is taking steps early on to iron out issues with future iPhone software.
We're approaching 20 years of iOS updates, which means the number of significant new features on can add are becoming few and far between. From my perspective as an iPhone user, it's much better to ensure that the features already there are working as seamlessly and flawlessly as possible, and it seems that's a perspective Apple is subscribing to as well.
It's not unprecedented for Apple to take a step back and make sure existing iOS features are working as intended. The iOS 12 update in 2018, for example, focused more on performance improvements than tacking on new features, and iPhone users certainly reaped the benefits of that approach.
I expect we'll hear more about iOS 18's changes including new features as we get closer to WWDC 2024. Whatever focus the update ends up having, I'm betting that the work Apple's doing now to eliminate bugs in early versions of iOS 18 is going to pay off once the software arrives.