Friday, January 23, 2015 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Organ Banked

In response to my roundup about Apple’s software quality, a former Apple CoreOS person writes:

A lot of us felt we were being “organ banked”, and late in Lion, on the iDevice release cycle, we were pulled away from desktop work in order to do iPhone and iPad work, which was on a 3 month release cycle, instead of alternating desktop with non-desktop, which we had formerly done on a 6 months on/6 months off cycle (release one in fall/release the other in the spring).

The desktop vastly suffered because of this, and we felt that Lion and later were more or less “phone it in” releases for the desktop.

The comments from Apple insiders underscore that there are many factors that affect software quality. It is not simply a matter of dropping the yearly schedule or of deciding to do “another Snow Leopard.” The development schedule and cycles matter. It also matters who the engineers and managers are, how they are treated, whether they are shuffled between projects, etc.

There was a lot of resentment because when the initial iPhone came out, almost no one on the second floor of IL2 was allowed to look at the internal SDKs; even after the SDKs were finally released (a lot of Apple engineers by that point were on the “iPhone Dev Team”, and compiling their own apps for jailbroken phones, providing compiler and assembler fixed, and so on).

Then we had to wait 6 months after they started external classes before we were allowed on the platform, or in the classes. We all suspected that that was because there was incredible demand for iPhone programmers, and we’d get hired away from working on boring old crap like Finder and Mail and AddressBook, because Apple couldn’t hire people willing to work on boring crap any more.

This reminds me of three things:

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