Apple labels iOS 8 as “The biggest iOS release ever”, but if a new report is accurate, the company may be moving more towards “refinement” with iOS 8. Mirroring the transition from OS X 10.5 Leopard to OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, iOS 9 will put a large emphasis on “fixing bugs, maintaining stability, and boosting performance” according to 9to5Mac.
Apple’s mobile-centric operating system already received a rather massive visual overhaul with iOS 7, and iOS 8 further refined the UI and added new functionality like Apple Pay, QuickType, iCloud Drive, Family Sharing, Health, and Continuity. While we’re certain that some new features will be added with iOS 9, much of the main focus will be put into ensuring that users that upgrade to the latest version of iOS will be greeted with an OS that is both fast and reliable on a day-to-day basis.
This latest report comes just weeks after Apple made efforts to reduce the amount of space required to install new iOS updates. It also comes after growing criticism of Apple’s decline in overall software quality and reliability. Apple once touted its rock solid operating systems as a “perk” compared to Windows machines. But over the years as Apple has piled on more features, we’ve seen some degradation in performance/reliability and a general slowness to fix existing issues.
Prominent Apple blogger John Gruber has also acknowledge Apple’s complacency when it comes to OS X and iOS software quality. Writing back in early January, Gruber noted:
But in avoiding the problems of stagnation and hubris, it feels like Apple has run into a different problem: nothing ever feels settled and stable…
My hope is that the reliability issues we are seeing in iOS and Mac OS X in recent releases are largely the inevitable result of Apple going through numerous transitions simultaneously. Extensions, XPC, iCloud Drive, Continuity — these things require coordination between all three of Apple’s platforms (mobile, desktop, cloud). That what we’ve been seeing the last few years is this decade’s equivalent of the first few years of Mac OS X — rapid development and flux that precedes an era of relative stability and a slower pace of change.
As for which devices will support iOS 9, 9to5Mac suggests that Apple would limit the operating system to devices that incorporate a 64-bit processor. That means the iPhone 5S and iPad Air/iPad Mini with Retina Display would make the cut while all other iOS devices would be left out. Of course, all of this is just speculation at this point, but it does make sense from a development perspective and could help Apple further streamline iOS code.