Thursday, April 2, 2020

The Case for Postponing macOS 10.16

John Martellaro:

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.


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.

The other big reason: allowing more time to polish Catalina.


Update (2020-04-15): Colin Cornaby:

I’d prefer to see macOS (and iOS) move off the yearly schedule. But we’re also now dependent on these major upgrades for significant SwiftUI advancements.

It’s less maintainable but I kind of wish SwiftUI started as a standalone library, like the Swift Standard Library.

Kyle Howells:

If every release is buggy for 6 months then with a multi year release cycle they are mostly stable. With a yearly release cycle everything is a perpetual mess.

Norbert M. Doerner:

I will skip 10.15.x completely. Far too many bugs and problems. Unbelievable.

14 Comments RSS · Twitter

You can't polish a turd.

Sören Nils Kuklau

I may be misremembering, but… let's say Catalina is the new Lion. Wasn't Mountain Lion better from the get-go? Like, it was a major release on paper, but in a way, it also was a polished Lion, no?

See also High Sierra vs. Mojave.

So I think there's precedent for the next .0 after a painful major release cycle to be the polish that's needed.

@Sören That has not been my experience with polish, and I had to completely rewrite my app for Mountain Lion. Snow Leopard was also very rough right out of the gate (though it got great later) and had major under-the-hood changes.

These feel like retrofit arguments ("internet load"?) talking around the real issue: macOS updates now fill Mac users/developers with dread, for good reason, pandemic or no.

Is Catalina any better now than it was back when it was released? Or is it still broken beyond hope?

The critical point is platform stability. A crisis is rarely the time to implement significant changes to platforms and critical tools, unless there is a specific change that is highly likely to improve the response to the crisis. Now is the time to stabilize, consolidate, strengthen, and reinforce.

@Karsten It’s definitely getting better, though sometimes two steps forward and one step back.

It seems to me odd-numbered releases like El Capitan and Catalina are worse than even-numbered ones. Does Apple have an A team and a B team for alternating OS releases, like they seem to have for iPhone hardware releases?

Christina Warren

I’m in full agreement with this plan. My only fear is that from a development cycle standpoint, it might not be possible to “fix” Catalina. And if that’s the case, putting off the next release, which hopefully will fix or at least roll-back some of the most egregious issues, will just mean that people running Catalina who can’t manually roll-back to Mojave will have to wait that much longer. All things considered, I would still prefer that to a release that just adds some refinements without fixing any of the underlying bugs, but now that the latest version of Xcode requires Catalina, it’s getting harder for many devs to stay off it.

I still refuse to run Catalina as my primary OS. I have it in a an APFS volume on one of my machines, but I can’t rely on it to be willing to use day to day. This is the first time since Mac OS X 10.2 that I haven’t been running the latest release at this stage, and the first time in 13 years I haven’t been on it from release day.

Bruce D. R. Grant

Mac Dictate should be able to remain active for dictating books & long docs, etc., instead of 40 seconds! I am an AUTHOR!

I guess we could use a Snow or Mountain Catalina this year.

I’ve taken every macOS release since they started but still refuse to run Catalina. Why?

Shipping with front facing DATA LOSS bugs is a mortal sin.

The problem isn’t that Catalina is a turd, the problem is that there are turds at Apple who shipped with data loss bugs that still are not fixed.

As long as you have turd polishers at the donut who don’t care you’ll have turds. 10.16 will be no different.

Catalina needs AT LEAST another year with “non-turd polishers” leading development. Apple needs to pay their technical debt.

End of line.

I think the tick-tock cycle of breaking changes and improvements of macOS has been busted for a long time. It seems like maybe 10.9 was the last release that was a polish release. They kind of just do whatever.

What I will say is that macOS seems a lot less busted _to me_ after I disconnected from Twitter. I don't mind it half as much as I did two/three months ago. Ubuntu is getting good and I could probably use it as a daily driver at this point, I go back and forth on this, but macOS is still pretty great. The system frameworks are still great and have better capabilities out of the box than what I see on other platforms.

What even comes close to AppKit for functionality, control widgets and capabilities? Yet the despondency still runs high and all it does is make us hate our hardware, hate our platform, want to divest from it and the end result is going to be we shoot ourselves in the foot.

This is a real example of the emails I get because of the ridiculous yearly update cycle and Apple's disregard for maintaining backward compatibility. In this case the user was happily running in Mojave an early 2018 version of my VidPlayVST audio workstation plugin, and then he installed Catalina. The plugin was failing to load because that earlier version of the software had not been notarized with the Apple Developer programme. No workaround offered to the user by Catalina. You can sense the user's panic and the feeling that I am to blame for this...

I really need your help because I am in the middle of a deadline and I
cannot load vidplay in my daw due to an update of my computer . . .

Can you take a look at that (and hopefully fix this asap)?

Thank you in advanced!


So, rush rush to upgrade him to the latest (now notarized) version of my software and all was fine again.

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