Following the discovery of a serious bug that allowed iPhone and iPads to be turned into spying devices, Apple took the drastic step of switching off Group FaceTime – a flagship iOS 12 feature, which itself was delayed and didn't launch until the release of iOS 12.1 – until it could release an iOS update to patch the issue. Over a week later, and iOS users are still waiting.
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Last week, Apple said that an update would be incoming this week. Now, it's only Thursday so there's still a bit of this week left, and I know that it takes time to patch bugs, and then test the patch to make sure that it both works and doesn't break something else.
But it's also hard to deny the fact that Apple seems to have, once again, been thrown on the back foot over an issue.
And we're seeing this with Apple time and time again. From announcing exciting new products only to later go on to scrub all traces of their existence from its website, to the whole iPhone throttling issue, which CEO Tim Cook himself admitted had contributed to Apple's first profits warning since 2002.
It's a company that seems to be easily derailed.
It's hard to shake off that feeling that, despite the billions of dollars both in the bank and rolling in every quarter, that Apple is stretched. Maybe this is because it's doing so much – iPhones, iPads, Macs, Apple Watch, iOS, macOS, HomePod, and more – or perhaps its tight scheduling for things like iPhone and iOS releases doesn't give it enough wriggle room when something unexpected comes up.
Either way, it's a real black eye for a company of Apple's size and stature to have to hurriedly take a feature offline and then to only give users a vague timeline of when they can expect things to get back to normal.
And consider this – Group FaceTime is a new feature, so it's not established into the ecosystem yet. Imagine the havoc that a similar bug affecting something like iMessage might have on users. It could have been a lot worse, and caused a lot more disruption, both for home users and those who rely on their iPhones and iPads for work, and I fear that Apple's response to that wouldn't have been much better.