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Apple plans to launch 2018’s iOS update without major new features in order to focus on quality assurance and performance issues, according to reports today from Axios and Bloomberg. The Cupertino company typically offers a new iOS developer preview every June at its Worldwide Developers Conference, followed by a public release in September, leveraging major features to sell newly released devices.

Based on the reports, Apple software chief Craig Federighi announced the decision to employees earlier this month, following several months of criticism over shortcomings in Apple’s mobile operating system. Federighi’s team has faced serious issues since iOS 11’s September 2017 release, ranging from problems with security and battery performance to gaps in Siri, while delays in the release of AirPlay 2 have impacted the HomePod’s ability to stream stereo and multi-room audio.

Axios claims that major new features expected to be pushed to 2019 include revised home screen and CarPlay user interfaces, as well as updates to the Mail, Camera, and Photos apps. Bloomberg reports that the Photos app was originally going to be retooled with “new algorithms to better automatically sort pictures,” and the Home screen was being redesigned with a new app grid layout, but smaller upgrades will still appear this year.

According to Bloomberg, the 2018 release of iOS will still contain several noteworthy new features. It is expected to merge third-party iOS and macOS apps into a single platform, include a parental monitor of kids’ overall screen time, and improve the FaceTime video calling app. Axios expects that Apple will still release improved augmented reality (AR) and health features, which could possibly include a multiplayer AR game mode mentioned in the Bloomberg report.

Axios says that Apple plans to focus primarily on making “iPhones more responsive and less prone to cause customer support issues,” but adds that some team members question whether Apple will be able to actually deliver superior software quality in the end. Bloomberg points out that Apple has repeatedly delayed previously announced “key new iOS features in recent months,” including Apple Pay Cash and iCloud Messages.

Ultimately, the impact of the modest software upgrades on sales of iOS devices remains unclear. “Customers tend to pay for features more than security and reliability,” Axios notes, which they can’t assess when making purchases.

Update at 7:53 a.m. Pacific: This article has been updated with additional information from Bloomberg.


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