Apple’s habitual secrecy makes working from home challenging


An engineer working on the iPhone 12 can’t take a prototype home to tinker with while they self quarantine.
Photo: LetsGoDigital

Many Apple employees working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic reportedly run into problems because of this company’s efforts to keep details on future projects from leaking out. This is forcing some of them to keep coming into the office.

Apple employees encouraged to work from home… in theory

Apple doesn’t allow unreleased products to leave its headquarters. That makes it hard to work on, say, the next-generation iPhone. This essentially forces many engineers to keep going to the office, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

The situation isn’t any better for programmers developing new versions of macOS or iOS. When working offsite to reduce the spread of COVID-19, they’ve supposedly had problems with slow servers. And they aren‘t sure whether they’re even allowed to work on these projects from home. They aren’t supposed to work remotely on software that reveals upcoming features currently kept secret.

COVID-19 potentially delays Apple products

A budget iPhone was widely expected to debut this month. But this pandemic caused problems in its production process, allegedly pushing the debut back. How much is not known. But with all Apple Stores closed until March 27, the company is unlikely to be planning big product launches any time soon.

And the iPhone coming this fall could be delayed as well. Apple reportedly forbids employees to go to China during this outbreak, which might push back the date this handset can go into production.

The challenges with Apple employees working from home can only exacerbate these delays.