Why Apple's low-energy WWDC is actually totally exciting | Cult of Mac

Why Apple’s low-energy WWDC is actually totally exciting


iOS 12
Apple's focus this year is on performance improvements in iOS 12, as well as improvements in macOS Mojave, not new features. And that's a good thing.
Photo: Apple

WWDC 2018 bug Cult of MacApple put on a good show for its WWDC keynote, but realistically it was a lot of hype without much substance. Dark Mode for macOS Mojave and Memojis for iOS 12 was about as exciting as it got. And you know what, that’s a good thing.

Both these operating systems have serious problems, and it’s far more important for Apple to spend a few months fixing them than adding new bells and whistles.

To see why this is necessary, we need look no farther than last fall’s release of iOS 11. Apple had to quickly rush out bug fix updates to take care of serious problems, including one that prevented some people from using the letter “i”.

And the trend continued throughout the life of iOS 11. Whenever Apple introduced an update, it inevitably had to swiftly follow this with a fix for the bugs that had been introduced. All this despite weeks of beta testing for each one.

The situation with macOS High Sierra wasn’t as severe, but only because Apple tweaked this operating system less. The company still left in such a huge bug that anyone could gain administrator access by simply entering “root” as the username and leaving the password blank. And there were other major problems too.

What happened to “It just works”?

Some are doubtless leaping to Apple’s defense by pointing out that the company quickly fixed all these issues. But that’s not what made Apple the company it is today.

People love their Mac because “it just works.” The same is true of iPhone and iPad. Everything is supposed to be simple and intuitive. Dealing with huge bugs isn’t simple. Waiting for Apple to release a new OS version to fix a serious flaw isn’t intuitive.

When a piece of software reaches the point that making any change breaks so many other things that it can’t be properly debugged before a public release, that software has become a house of cards. And it’s obvious that Apple has two teetering edifices on its hands: iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra.

A rebuilding year

But neither one is “doomed.” Craig Federighi, Apple’s VP of software engineering, and his team of developers need to rewrite some portions of both operating systems. It’s clear they’re full of code that works, but doesn’t work very well.

And promising just minor changes in iOS 12 and macOS Mojave gives Apple time to go in and clean up the code in already-existing features.

The price we have to pay is a longer wait for exciting new capabilities. But it’s a price worth paying.

Just to be clear, all this isn’t entirely speculation. Unconfirmed reports indicate that Apple knows it has software problems, and this year is focusing more on the stability of its software than new features.

Is Apple Park the real problem?

What is complete speculation is a possible explanation how both iOS and macOS ended up in the sad state they’re in today: Apple’s shiny new headquarters, which employees moved into just a few months ago.

apple park
Apple Park cost more than $5 billion, and it also cost employees a lot of time.
Photo: Duncan Sinfield

Years ago, a grizzled old stock broker told us “When you hear a company is constructing a new headquarters, it’s the time to sell that stock”.

Apple Park is big and beautiful, but moving all the employees to a new building is an enormous distraction for everyone. Companies work hard to minimize this, but it’s inevitable. Time spent looking for new parking spaces and finding the coffee pot is time not spent working.

And that’s in buildings where people dont regularly walk into the all-glass walls. And don’t forget, many Apple employees hate the open-plan layout in the new headquarters.

Hopefully, Tim Cook and Co. and worked through the teething pains of the move, and people can concentrate on iOS 12 and macOS Mojave.


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.