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Apple launches iOS 14, iPadOS 14, tvOS 14 and watchOS 7 with just one day’s notice

Today, most of Apple’s major annual updates to its operating systems are launched – with the exception of macOS Big Sur. iOS 14, iPadOS 14, tvOS 14 and watchOS 7 are rolling out to users across the globe and all day today (and tomorrow, in some regions).

The timing is unusual this time. Typically, Apple launches updates several days after the September product announcement livestream, typically timed with the release of new iPhones. But with no iPhones announced this week, Apple instead pushed these updates just a day after the event and a day before the new Apple Watch and 8th generation iPad are expected to end up in users’ hands.

iOS 14 brings great new features to the home screen and app management experience for the iPhone with support for the home screen widgets introduced in iPadOS last year and a new app library view that allows for easier management of all installed apps on one panel. Along with that comes the system-wide picture-in-picture support for videos – another feature that has found its way from iPadOS – and a number of significant improvements to Messaging, Maps and other applications as well as a new live translation app.

watchOS 7 renames the Workouts app to “Fitness” and doubles, among other things, new strength training features. The OS also adds a feature that helps users ensure that they wash their hands properly and in sufficient time. Perhaps most importantly, watchOS 7 brings sleep tracking – an important feature found in many competing fitness wearables, but not the Apple Watch.

iPadOS 14 expands the widgets feature compared to last year’s release, and it includes a number of small design optimizations throughout the operating system. And tvOS 14 extends home functionality and support to more users and adds picture-in-picture support.

The quick launch that frustrated developers

The immediate timing of the releases may seem like a positive for consumers complaining about new features, but it has been very disruptive for developers. These large annual OS releases often require developers to make changes to their apps, either to meet new requirements or to support features added to the OS or newly launched devices. Developers have had access to beta releases that have introduced these features and tweaks for a few months – eight beta releases to be exact.

But final testing and preparation for submission typically happens when the golden master update was seen for developers. The Golden Master is intended to be an almost exact match with the final public release of the operating system, specifically for this purpose of testing and submission.

But by the time of these launches, developers had less than a full day with the Golden Master before the public release, leading to many late nights, delayed releases, and vocal frustration.

In the midst of the chaos, Apple released a note to its developer portal yesterday, asking developers to “Make sure your apps are ready when iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 become available to customers around the world.” This note came without acknowledging that for many it would be almost impossible given the time frame.

For that reason, users should expect to see more issues with third-party apps in iOS 14 and iPad 14 at launch, and they should expect some updates related to the new release to come more days later than usual this year.

As always, we’re working on a review of the new release – expect to see our review of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 late next week.

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