MG Siegler instigated an interesting conversation on Branch today when he wondered out loud about Apple's plans for 2013. I've already posted several pieces on iMore about the potential for an April event, a potential summer release for the iPhone 5s, some stuff on the iWatch, bigger iPhone, and less expensive iPhone, and a bit about Jony Ive going hands-on with iOS 7. John Gruber added the following, which he's since posted on Daring Fireball as well:
What I’ve heard: iOS 7 is running behind, and engineers have been pulled from OS X 10.9 to work on it. (Let me know if you’ve heard this song before.)
Clayton Morris concurred:
I've heard from engineers who've been moved off of their current 'non-profit generating projects' in order to work on the high priority software projects.
Scott Forstall, previously in charge of iOS, left late last year. Jony Ive, previously in charge of hardware design was put in charge of all design, including software, at the same time. That's a massive change to the team working on iOS 7. In addition, Richard Williamson, who previously ran Maps, left, as did several other iOS engineers (retention really is a problem.) Siegler added to the Branch that the Passbook team specifically is suffering at the moment.
Here's something I contributed to the Branch but I can't stress enough:
iOS is a continuum, not a set of static things. There's a roadmap. What didn't make it into iOS 6 goes into 7, what doesn't make it into 7 goes into 8.
So, if Forstall and other departures, and Ive and other additions, cause a change, either features can be dropped to make the same schedule, or the schedule has to be extended to allow for those features to be completed, or extra engineers have to be added to try and get the same schedule for the same features. Given the competitive landscape, and given that Apple has pulled engineering resources to iOS to help meet deadlines in the past, it's not hard to believe they need to, and are, doing just that again.
I haven't heard anything about the authentication hardware Siegler mentions, but I have heard some of the other things Gruber said. My only other addition to the Branch:
Ive's work is apparently making many people really happy, but will also apparently make rich-texture-loving designers sad.
Transitions or no transitions, it sounds like there's some real work going on for iOS 7. I hope a lot of it makes it in. I also hope online services get the attention they need, because that's the table-stakes now.
Go read the whole conversation and let me know what you think.