The Case for Apple to Postpone macOS 10.16 into 2021

2019 iMac
2019 iMac.  Image credit: Apple

Traditionally, Apple provides a preview of the next version of macOS at WWDC in June, then releases it late September. This year, there’s a case to be made to postpone macOS 10.16 into 2021.

Reason #1. Users. We’re all struggling to stay safe and secure in macOS 10.15 Catalina or even 10.14 Mojave. And since new apps are being pressed into service for working at home, the last thing we need is a new version of macOS with its traditional teething pains—especially in post WWDC betas. We don’t need any rugs pulled out from under our collaboration apps. Let’s focus on stability and security until the pandemic has completely dissipated.

Reason #2. Apple software engineers. I’m guessing that with many macOS engineers working from home, there just isn’t a traditional high level of collaboration like there is in the Apple offices. Corners might be cut.

Plus, working from home, it would be harder to alpha test on the complete suite of (test) Macs that are to be supported, and things will inevitably fall through the cracks. This is no time to cut corners when macOS is being pressed into service as a (home) mission critical life-line.

Reason #3. Apple developers. Our developer heroes have been complaining for years that they just can’t keep up with the fast-evolving structural and security changes in macOS every 12 months. A six month delay in 10.16 would provide critical time to iron out the kinks in their apps due to changes in Catalina. Not to mention relaxing stress on the developers due to concern for their family’s health.

Reason #4. Internet loads. A new version of macOS runs about 5 GB. Having millions of users and developers downloading beta and final versions throughout the summer when internet bandwidth is crucial for those who may still be working from home seems unwise.

Of course, the pandemic may be mostly over at some point in the summer. I don’t want to hazard a guess when; that’s for the medical pros. But now is the time, as Apple plans its WWDC curriculum, to make a worst case estimate and plan accordingly. (But keep those security updates coming.)

I know we all could use some macOS breathing room and stress relief.

5 thoughts on “The Case for Apple to Postpone macOS 10.16 into 2021

  • John:

    This is precisely the kind of thinking that one should expect from leadership in any organisation, but no less important an exercise for the community of the user base. We’re all in this together and being on the same page leads to an appropriate management of expectations at a time of crisis.

    All of these points are compelling, but your points 2 and 4 are perhaps the most technically relevant from a product standpoint.

    One could argue that this is precisely the opposite point of one your recent editorials, in which you raised the question of whether or not it was appropriate for Apple to release new hardware products during this time, and most of the comments, including from yours truly, supported such release. The difference here is that, as you’re pointing out, if that product, in this case macOS, but the principle should apply to any product or service, is suboptimally constructed at release time, lacking the standard QA vetting and likely being unable to deliver a best in class user experience, then its delay is preferable to its release.

    Irrespective of the product, no one should quibble with that principle. At most, the user community can express frustration at unrequited pent up demand, but that is precisely the point of leadership proactively anticipating and managing expectations with targeted and timely messaging. Appeals to higher principles of understanding and mutual support in the spirit of community, and our all being in this together, particularly as they relate to Apple employees as outlined in your points 1 and 3, would go far to reinforce both those managed expectations and that community practice of placing each other’s well-being before our personal comfort and desires.

    A timely article.

  • I started reading the article thinking that continuity was more important. Everyone has a schedule, Everyone knows what’s going to happen. It would look bad, not to mention be bad for the morale of the Wall Street wonks if Apple suddenly admitted that Covid-19 was becoming a problem.

    But after reading the article, I’ve changed my mind. You’ve made a good case.

  • Apple should postpone updates for Mac and iOS – because they keep releasing CRAP updates.

    Buggy, brick hardware, not compatible with 1 generation old software./hardware – I won’t go on. But the last 2 at least, maybe three – releases? Who are those engineers? FIRE THEM TOO.

    Do not know WHO is in charge of Apple quality control – but FIRE his/her butt at least.

    1. Yeah, Apple’s pace of OS updates isn’t really doing anyone any favors, least of all Apple itself, when the trend is for every other (odd numbered) update to be substandard.

      iOS 11 was problematic, as is 13, and there’s little compelling about Catalina when Mojave still receives security updates and retains support for legacy apps that will never be updated.

      Sadly, Apple is doing a good job mimicking what old Apple users hated about Microsoft — buggy, mediocre software, and acting like a bully in the marketplace.

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