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Over the years, the cadence of the annual iOS release schedule has settled to become very predictable. First betas arrive in early June, then update every few weeks until the mid-September event where the iOS and Xcode GMs appear. Everyone does a final test on the GM, and a week or so later, the updates drop. It’s regular as clockwork. 👍

But it’s 2020, and nothing goes to plan this year. At Tuesday’s event, we expected to see the announcement of a late September release date, but as you know by now, it ended up being less than 24 hours after the event. 😬 Twitter, predictably, was the focus for the community’s ire and dissatisfaction. There was a broken GM build uploaded, and the clock was ticking.

I’m sure there are good reasons for why it happened this way, but it did throw everyone into a state of panic. A little communication from Apple to developers would have been very helpful, but I’m sure that a decades-long history of tight-lipped stoicism is tough to change. Maybe if the announcement of the event had come with a post on the developer news site outlining the adjusted release schedule, people would have been pacified after the event.

But without a final build, there’s no way to do that last test, and I saw several tweets from developers who found last-minute issues that only appeared in the GM build. It’s not ideal after developers have been working all summer to be ready on day one.

I do want to touch on the “day one” thing though. It’s long been seen as essential to have your app ready for the first day of a new platform, or operating system release. In reality, it’s probably not as critical as it might feel. Only a tiny percentage of users upgrade on day one, so it only affects the very earliest of adopters. It’s not worth losing too much sleep over, in my opinion. Most users will never know that your app didn’t immediately take advantage of every new API.

I also saw several people talking about lost marketing opportunities from not being there at launch, and again I don’t think it’s that important. Marketing is a constant, ongoing task, and coverage of these new releases doesn’t stop next week. There’s plenty of time to be featured by Apple, or a third party news site if you release a few days after the official launch. You’ll still beat most of the big companies, that won’t have widgets for the next 18 months.

Or, you could roll with it and integrate this into your marketing plan. 😍

Dave Verwer

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