Apple Pushes Back Some Key iPhone Software Features

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Apple Inc. executives, seeking to improve the performance of iPhone software after months of reported quality issues, have decided to delay some key features originally planned for this fall’s update, according to a person familiar with the matter.

As part of an annual release of new iPhone models, Apple also usually rolls out a major iOS update each year. The current software version, iOS 11, added augmented-reality features, a file management app and business-user enhancements for the iPad. For iOS 12, Apple has been working on additions like a redesigned home screen app grid, a multiplayer mode for augmented reality games, and a merger of the third-party applications running on iPhones and Macs, the people said, asking not to be named discussing information that isn’t public.

While core features like the combined apps platform are still on schedule to be introduced this year, some flashier changes like the redesigned home screen will likely be held back until the 2019 software update, a person familiar with the matter said. The company will also probably delay a revamped photo management application that used new algorithms to better automatically sort pictures, though some smaller upgrades to the Photos app will still appear this year.

The shift in strategy comes following months of criticism due to bugs found in Apple’s software. Late last year, researchers discovered a login flaw that allowed intruders to access files without a passcode on Mac computers and vulnerabilities in the company’s smart-home platform. Apple has also publicly delayed key new iOS features in recent months, including a feature for synchronizing text messages across Apple devices and its peer to peer payments system, Apple Pay Cash.

New features for parents to better monitor how long apps are being used for by kids and their overall screen time, as well as improvements to Apple’s FaceTime video calling service are still on track for this year’s update, the people said. A shareholder group recently criticized the parental control on iPhones, pushing Apple to say earlier this month that improvements would be released in a future software update.

The company told its software engineering groups about the change this month, one of the people said. The shift will also affect this year’s update to Mac computer software, but to a lesser degree, the person said, adding that planned upgrades to Apple Watch and Apple TV software won’t be affected.

Axios reported earlier on the delay. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment. The company reports quarterly earnings on Thursday.

This isn’t the first time Apple has told engineers that focus should be on performance rather than new features. Apple made a similar push in 2015 with the release of iOS 9 and for Mac software updates in recent years.

Earlier this month, Apple said it would release an update for iPhones called iOS 11.3 that would allow customers to disable a feature that slowed iPhone performance in favor of battery life. The update will also have improved AR apps, new video modes for Apple Music and Apple News, and security enhancements for smart-home appliances.

[“Source-bloomberg”]