iOS 13.2 Effectively Breaks Multi-Tasking, Kills Background Tasks

iOS 13 has been problematic since launch. Apple pushed iOS 13.1 out in record time, but the problems haven’t been resolved, even with the release of iOS 13.2. As fast as Apple has quashed old bugs, new ones have been introduced. According to multiple sources, iOS 13.2 has introduced what’s believed to be a massive memory management bug.

The issue pops up in a host of ways. Navigating away from videos on YouTube may result in them being reloaded from scratch, even on an iPad Pro with 6GB of RAM. Games have been dropped after a minute or less, even when the application someone tabs into is as simple as iMessage. Even something as simple as switching between messaging and a single Safari tab can cause problems. Using the camera app has apparently always been an issue with this sort of thing in iOS 13 (based on comments from multiple users), but the problem is much worse now.

According to developer Marco Arment, Apple has introduced major new bugs in iOS 13.2.

There may be problems with Apple’s software development approach that exacerbate these issues. David Shayer, an Apple software engineer for 18 years, has listed several in a recent article, published before these latest issues were known. Among the problems he discusses are the fact that Apple crash reports don’t identify non-crashing bugs (meaning these problems don’t get fixed), and bugs often don’t get fixed if it can be determined they’re just a new version of an earlier bug. Breaking a working feature is prioritized for repair. An old bug that never got fixed is just an old bug, unlikely to be fixed. But old bugs pile up. Not only can they break new code in unexpected ways, they continue annoying a user base that simply has to work around them. Pile up enough work-arounds, and people start to have a negative opinion of your product.

Apple also relies heavily on manual testing rather than automatic testing and overall OS and application complexity has, of course, ballooned. iOS itself is a heck of a lot more operating system than it used to be, speaking in terms of both its capabilities and its size. It’s not clear if these specific reasons are the problem at Apple, but it’s hard to get away from the idea that the company is struggling with genuine complexity issues these days. It wasn’t particularly unusual for a company to ship a defective keyboard, but Apple has shipped multiple keyboards that have gone through multiple revisions, without ever really solving the problem. Its iPhone 6 Plus design was too easy to bend. It bought a sapphire glass manufacturer to use the technology, then dumped it. It announced a wireless charging mat with unique capabilities, then dumped it. It built a unique Mac Pro system with a challenging form factor, then realized that entire effort had been a mistake and dumped it. Its software has become generally buggier. Features have been delayed more often.

The company hasn’t paid a tremendous price for any of this, but there’s been a collective impact on how I perceive its products as an end user. I tend to delay my OS upgrades until I’m certain the kinks have been worked out, but based on the reported experiences of iOS 13 users, I’m not sure I’ll upgrade to it at all.

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