Regarding iOS 4.2, delays, and why this is how it's supposed to work

Apple never announced a public release date for iOS 4.2 other than "November". Rumors suggested that last Friday, November 12 would be the big day. The Gold Master (GM) had been released over a week before, Mac OS X 10.6.5 showed up last Wednesday, iOS 4.2 compatible apps began populating the App Store, and signs pointed to iTunes 10.1 arriving any minute as well. (It did, last Friday).

But no iOS 4.2.

Instead, alongside iTunes 10.1 Apple released a second iOS 4.2 Gold Master for iPad. Rumor has it there was a "show stopper" level Wi-Fi bug in the previous Gold Master, which necessitated the new version and "delayed" the general release until next week or the week after, depending on who, if anyone, you choose to believe.

That's resulted in some online disappointment, some charges that Apple's blown in, and some outrage that blogs like TiPb have blow it by reporting something as "delayed" which never had a public release day.

But this is exactly what's supposed to happen. Gold Master releases are put out early so developers can test their apps and so that any major "show stoppers" that escaped the beta releases can be found -- and fixed -- before the general release. Better to take a week extra and get a solid general release than to follow some arbitrary release date -- or rumored release date -- right off the cliff.

That's exactly why Apple didn't announce a specific day in November. If they finished early, they could release early. More likely, however, if it took them an extra day or week, they could take that time to get it right without risking user disappointment or public outcry from those who had to have it "right now" rather than "right".

So sure, iOS 4.2 might be "delayed" on Apple's own, private, internal release schedule, but not in any public facing way. iOS 3.2 for iPad had Wi-Fi problems from launch day. No one wants to deal with that or any major bugs again. (We'll have our hands full with the minor ones, no doubt.)

So if you're disappointed you don't have iOS 4.2 for iPad already. If you think you're missing out on AirPlay and AirPrint on iPhone, on multitasking and folders on iPad, the relax. Breath deeply. And take some solace in the knowledge that this is how it's supposed to work.

The Gold Master is released. It's tested. And if it fails, a new Gold Master is released to take its place. In that regard, we're right on schedule.

Now who has the third Tuesday at midday Cupertino time in the office pool again?

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Regarding iOS 4.2, delays, and why this is how it's supposed to work

48 Comments

An even bigger failure is that orientation lock being changed to mute switched. They better be changing this while they are delaying this release. Need to jailbreak right away to fix that mistake.

Get over the orientation lock! Jesus!! At the 2 taps of a button and a swipe it'll b there! Not exactly gonna kill u is it! Jesus!!!

The orientation lock change is actually alright, but it's personal preference I guess. As with anything on iOS Jailbreak is always there to fix what you don't like.
The latest GM of 4.2 is out in the wild, go get it and stop moaning about the delays.

Maybe MattyFresh should go back to highscool and learn how to use punctuation. Do you think maybe they should have meetings about that at work?

I want to have the new updated iOS. I'm disappointed it wasn't released already, but I'm not upset with Apple about it.
I am not upset with this site and the articles that stroke the flames about release dates. I get a lot of useful data from this site. This is the number 1 site in my book.
I read some comments and all I think is that some people need to get a life.

Actually, no, it's not how it's supposed to work. You're mistaking (purposefully, I expect) a GM/RC for a run-of-the-mill beta, which it isn't. Something as major and widespread as iPad WiFi not working should have been caught long before the GM stage. A minor issue or something extremely rare showing up unexpectedly? Yeah, that's what you release an RC to look for, but the iPad WiFi issue was neither -- it was both extremely major (sufficiently so to cause a 'new' GM) and very, very common.
Someone screwed up bad to have either missed this completely previously or to have made some very late change(s) to the communication routines to cause the issue.

I think that why we, the consumers, are so upset is because we feel this should have come out back in August. It was a fairly new device with an ever lasting older operating system. Android handset makers and telcos are criticized for delays for Froyo updates and this is no different. It's long overdue.

Dev-Team , i supply you for release The Desimlock for new BB of iPhone 3G !! please ! please give us the Key but for now , since the iOS was realesed i can't use my iphone , just like iPod !!! i will cry all of my heart :'(

"GM" is for making sure all is working correctly and they fixed the issue with the iPad bug oviously!! They released it Friday and I will wait until I see it online stating it's available to the public! it won't be available soon enough! iOS 4.1 has only been around 2 1/2 months!!!! I want Airprint and Airplay also but I have too wait!!!!!
Tazzy
11-14-2010

As Myria pointed out, this is emphatically not how it is supposed to work; the rest of the opinion piece is handwaving trying to spin that failure.

If most of you would use some of their time more effectively, instead of complaining you could solve most of the issues yourself.
This is what I did instead of writing lengthy complaints: I bought an iPad on 3.2.2, wasn't happy with the non-existing multitasking, lack of folders and easy way to change brightness. Did I complain? No, instead I used that time to jailbreak and add all of the above functionality. And I was happy. Then I started to get impatient for the public release of 4.2. I wanted AirPrint for my shared network printer. I got the GM, and had major WiFi issues. Did I complain? Again, no, instead I used that energy to find a solution instead. I did a reset of everything WiFi related in my house, did a clean install of 4.2, and... WiFi issues gone, airprint working perfectly after some fiddling in Win7. Then I installed iTunes 10.1 (official release), very recently, and my ability to use my shared Win7 printer disappeared. Well, I didn't complain but got the 10.1 beta back up and running and have now a fully functional 4.2 iPad with all the features I want. And I am actually happy to comment about that.
I realize it's not how it should be, but complaining doesn't make anything better for yourself or anybody else. It certainly isn't going to ge the features you want anytime sooner.

Maybe, after the expectations raised by Skyfire, they have decided to include Flash playback capabilities on the iPad through the new iOS 4.2 .... Who knows! They might actually surprise us!!

I wouldn't say it's exactly how it should work. They should have addressed the problem earlier, but they are still within their stated window. However, the blogs are definitely guilty of stoking expectations and trying to outguess Apple. Getting a scoop is one thing (I understand the pressure to be first), but now everyone wants to be ahead of first, to make the first prediction. It's absurd and really doesn't help the readers.

@Rene
Of course not. Better to catch it late than never, and, as I have said in other comment threads, they had no choice but to hold up the release. GMs are released for devs to test -- end-to-end first party bugs (in this case, Apple software on Apple hardware) should never escape betas, or, at worst, a private RC1. That it did not escape to public release is a good thing, but that Apple's QA is apparently so slipshod as to let it get several stages too far is a far, far cry from claiming this is "how it's supposed to work" as you do.

Seriously what's up with the tipb.com site and misspelled articles Shesh. 99% percent of blogs put out have some misspelling. And it's dumb misspelling. "the relax" instead of "then relax". Lololol seriously?

I could've cared less about the release day as long as it had AirPrint working, luckily the hack that's out worked so I got airprinting anyway.

I love Apple!
They don't want to dissapoint us!
November is november and we still have 16 days to go!

Yes, continue to apologize for apple. Btw, where the hell did you learn to write? Did you even bother to read your horrible grammar? The more I read articles here, the more I realize that you don't need to be able to read or write to be a publisher on tipb.

"If you think you’re missing out on AirPlay and AirPrint on iPhone, on multitasking and folders on iPad, the relax." should read:
"If you think you’re missing out on AirPlay and AirPrint on iPhone, on multitasking and folders on iPad, THEN relax."

There WAS a wifi bug. Which I experimented only this weekend at my mom's with her WRT54G v7.
So... I'm glad GM2 is out ;-)

Thank you. I am so glad someone finally spoke up. Tired of hearing rumors. I would rather wait than have a lot of issues with this release. I am excited to, but rather have it done right.

Some of you guys are missing out on the fact that not all of the people waiting for the 4.2 release are iPad users. In fact a whole bunch of peopz r waiting for the release because it means that the New BB unlock will be out, too! SO YEAH, i am impatiently waiting for the damn release.

A lot of whiners on here. Apple said November and it's still November. Tipb's job is to report news AND rumors so they're doing their job too.

I posted on engadget about the 4.2gm wifi bug about 45 minutes after I had installed the gm, and in that time I installed restored installed restored etc until I was sure there was a problem, I then wrote on the blog about it and got foamed to he'll by total pricks...
Now at the same time I emailed Steve didn't get a reply but I took the time to tell the guy about the problem... I also informed my local pc worl, apple store and square about the problem so that anyone else that needed help could get it...
I had access to the new 4.2gm b revision whtih 5 minutes of it going live on the developer site and installed it right away, well it worked first time perfectly... So it's Fact that there was a wifi problem with 4.2gm and now it's fixed...
The versions that are on the torrent site are exactly the same as the ones I have installed on my iPad and iPhone so stop being bitching little girls and install it, then post how great it is as it pisses on everything else out there...

Here's my comment to those having a pissing match on whther this bug should or should not have been discovered before GM: sorry folks, you are both wrong.
Once upon a time, the philosophy of software was release no product until all bugs have been squashed. When products had to actually be stamped on physical media like tapes, floppies or late CD, this made quite a bit of sense. You didn't want to ship the media until the product was as flawless as can be. Reprinting all those disks can be expensive. Once QA finally signed off, you had the gold master, which is a term from the CD production world where the master imprint CD was in fact partially made from gold! With that approach, a company could never announce a hard date for a softer release, since you neve knew when all bugs would be squashed and QA would give the sign off.
With the advent of Internet distribution, and the spread of the ideas of the agile movement, a new idea came into being: release early and release often. The idea is to get the software out into the field, and get customer feedback about both features and bugs. Remember, developers are only a small subset of the potential users and they tend to have the most sophisticated gear. Some bugs can only be found in the field and with less sophisticated users. The benefit of this approach is that customers get there hands on useful software much earlier, and the vendor can be sure that the feature set really matches customers needs, not what the vendor and developers imagine customer needs are. In this approach a date is set for release of new versions, knowing full well that going out it will still have some bugs. GM means only we did as much QA as possible within the tight release schedule, but we are aware some show stopping bugs might yet appear. That's why between major milestone releases you get minor bug fixes.
In all software products there is a trade off between time, feature and stability. Apple does an a better job than most in juggling these three in an extremely complex product that iOS is. So stop with the whing already.

@AT - quit talking sense. There's no room for that in the Internet! ;)
Moreover, we've long passed the point where it is not possible to eliminate all bugs. Probably not all significant, show-stopping bugs. Maybe the ratio of bugs to codebase size has stayed the same, but I doubt it. It's something to look into. Bugs likely increase at a geometric or exponential rate with codebase size, not linear nor is it constant. Simply not possible anymore to ship clean code for today's operating system or any significant software package. The complexity is too great.

Waaahhh... I'm so disappointed! I was so looking forward to all of 4.2's new, incredible features like... uhhh... well... uhhh... well, whatever... you know, all those new things I've already forgotten... :roll:

Nicely said Rene.
First of all I have to say if you can't wait for the upgrade go and download the GM update
Second there is a jailbreak for that
Third thing is "third Tuesday at midday Cupertino time" that is when I said it is coming and I am sure you can find my comments posts from before if you do not believe me.
Fourth in my own words it is not a delay until one second after11:59 Cupertino time on the 30th.

I can confirm that there was certainly something wrong with wifi in the first GM; I downloaded the files that were available out in the wild, and gradually became aware that my Internet connection was constantly disappearing for no apparent reason.
I've since searched "the wild" again, and downloaded the GM2 and the problem has gone away.
I still don't like the dropping of the hardware orientation switch, though. It was so useful to switch orientation on the fly with just a finger touch; now I have to double click the home button, swipe to the left, change the lock, and double click, just so that I can change my set view!

Way to go Apple for wanting to put out a good iOS not a buggy one... Who wants something that doesn't work right? I got a pc and it hasn't worked right since the day i got it!!!Every Apple Product I own has JUST WORKED from day one!!! Can't wait to buy an iMac & MacBook Pro!!!

@Jejoro
Maybe you should let somebody who knows what he's doing install your PC. then you too, like million others, can have a PC that's actually working as it should.

Well written column by Rene, who has taken his fair share of grief when siding with Apple on things of this nature. I know I have made jokes and goofed on people who have moaned about this update not being out right now. I just don't understand what the outrage is all about. I think the most exciting thing is the ability to give a contact their own text tone, but even then it's not a customizable tone and there are rumors that it might not work on the 3G iPhone. I think there has been more outrage about a subtle update than the infamous white iPhone 4. Some people are living a charmed life if they are getting torqued up about things like this.

Bryandung, as always, whenever you're correcting someone else's punctuation, spelling, or grammar, make sure yours is airtight.
It's not.