iOS 13 Arrives, But Not Without Some Bugs

It happens every fall: Right on the heels of Apple announcing another $1,000 phone, the company releases a major operating system update that make even older iPhones feel refreshed. Today is that day, as iOS 13 becomes officially available to all owners of an iPhone 6S or later.

iOS 13 holds a lot of promise. It introduces a Dark Mode, drastically overhauls the Photos app, includes a Street-View-like feature in Apple Maps, and officially introduces Apple Arcade, the new $5-per-month gaming portal.

Something atypical for Apple is iOS 13’s notably buggy rollout. Since June, when Apple hosted its annual WWDC software shindig, the company has been releasing developer and public beta versions of its new OS for iPhones. This is usually a fertile time for communities of early users to share notes about their experiences online, and provide useful feedback to Apple on how the software works. This year, some developers say they’re surprised by what feels like a scattershot release.

“iOS 13 has felt like a super-messy release, something we haven’t seen this bad since iOS 8 or so,” Steve Troughton-Smith, an app and game developer, tweeted earlier this week. Troughton-Smith frequently blogs about his experiences coding for Apple platforms. “Definitely needs a lengthy period of consolidation and bug fixing,” he says of the new mobile OS.

At least some of the known bugs have been fixed for this release today, and other early users have reported no major issues with beta versions of iOS 13. To some extent, early versions of software are usually a crapshoot (remember the iOS update that totally bricked iPhones?) But if you can stand to wait 11 days, it might be worth it to wait for iOS 13.1, the next update to the iPhone’s OS that’s expected to drop at the end of the month and should be more reliable.

I Got Bugs

Apple first released the iOS 13 beta software for developers in early June, the same day as the WWDC keynote. The first public beta, the one that’s available to curious, thrill-seeking consumers, was released at the end of that month. Since then, both the developer and public beta versions of the software have gone through nearly a dozen different iterations. The release schedule has veered a bit from Apple’s usual timeline for iOS.

Some of the early iOS 13 problems have been things that only developers would encounter in their app-making processes, like hiccups when creating custom transitions in apps, or other inconsistencies in UIKit, Apple’s set of app-building tools. Other spotted problems have been consumer-facing.

This includes a glitch that allows users to bypass the iPhone’s lock screen and access Contacts, and another that caused users to lose data and projects that had been backed up in iCloud. The former is expected to be addressed with the upcoming iOS 13.1 update. The iCloud problem, meanwhile, caused Apple to revert back to an earlier version of iCloud within one of the iOS 13 releases, according to one developer, who declined to be quoted for this story.

Developer Craig Hockenberry, wrote about this iCloud issue, calling it a “clusterfuck” and noting that it “appears that the entire stack is getting rolled back and there won’t be new iCloud features in iOS 13 (at least initially).” Hockenberry added, “iCloud can’t be a beta,” given its critical role as a service for Apple products.

Apple says the iCloud issues from early betas have been resolved in the build of the software that’s shipping today.

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The writers at AppleVis, an Apple-focused website for the blind and low-vision community, noted that early versions of iOS 13 would cause a device’s display to “spontaneously and randomly switch between light on dark and dark on light,” making it challenging for those with low vision to use the phone. The iPhone’s new braille keyboard display would also sometimes stop responding to input. Some of the braille-related bugs will be fixed in iOS 13.1, but the other fixes aren’t being pushed out until a later date.

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