iOS 8.0.2 Released to Resolve Cellular Issues

The QA Manager at Apple is having a really bad week…

I know I’ve said this before, but I’ve got 25 years in QA management. I know that Apple hires only the cream of the crop; but you have to wonder if after not one but two huge software bug blunders in the last two years if the guy running the QA ship at Apple is the right guy. It’s a reasonable question. And I’m certain that its something that is likely crossing the mind of EVERY member of Apple’s senior leadership team’s minds.

Earlier today (as of this writing), Apple released iOS 8.0.2 to resolve the issues with cellular connectivity and TouchID functionality. Specifically, the release provides the following improvements and bug fixes:

ios801

Unfortunately, the big issues around cellular connectivity and TouchID were tested by the same QA organization responsible for the same testing type of misstep that occurred with Apple Maps. That particular issue was enough to get Scott Forestall fired. However, it didn’t go much lower than that.

Now, a couple releases later, there’s another huge testing bungle hot on the heels of the iPhone 6 release and iOS 8. Funny how the same QA manager that blew Apple Maps also blew the testing on this particular release.

This was a big one; and from what I’ve read on Bloomberg, this guy has had a really crappy week.

iOS 8.0.1 was aimed at fixing issues from the iOS 8 GM release, and also introduced Apple’s health and fitness-tracking application HealthKit. Unfortunately, the update also disabled some people’s – and the estimates around “some” is around 40,000 – access to their cellular network so they couldn’t make or receive phone calls.

While some may try to make the story about the QA guy and the fact that he blew the testing on three huge bugs (Maps, TouchID and cellular connectivity), the issue shouldn’t necessarily be about what was missed, but how it was missed.

Apple does most of the right things the right way. Its clear from their sales, stock prices and consumer loyalty. I’m not entirely certain what went south with iOS 8.0.1, but I have a few ideas; and I’m going to offer them briefly with the hope that they will be taken constructively and not as deconstructive criticism.

While Apple ranks their bugs with an industry standard process, its said that their bug review meetings can get ugly. Engineers often argue for more time to fix a problem while product managers push to move the release forward. In the case of Apple Maps and iOS 8.0.1, too much risk was assumed by the product manager(s) in question. Its obvious that more time should have been given to issues in iOS 8.0.1 or the issues weren’t discovered until after the software was released.

The biggest issue that I’ve seen – IF it in fact proves to be accurate – is that software testers and engineers don’t get their hands on the latest iPhones until the actual release date. This is the biggest reason why there is normally a software update to iOS a week or two after the release of the device. Testing and Development get the latest hardware, install the OS, and then start poking around. Prior to that, QA and Dev team members either use existing hardware to test the new mobile OS, or run the new software in an emulator.

While this seems like a no brainer to resolve, the problem exists because of one word, really – Gizmodo. The leaked iPhone 4 hardware that got passed around is still giving Apple heartburn, nearly 5 years later, and as such, Tim Cook has limited use of unreleased hardware to only senior managers, unless special permission is granted. This makes testing difficult.

Internal turf wars also create issues as teams responsible for testing cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity will sometimes sign-off on a release too early, and then – as in the case of iOS 8.0.1 – connectivity or other compatibility issues are discovered. There tends to be a lot of finger pointing when things like this happen, and that’s never productive.

No matter how you slice it, there’s something very wrong with the way Apple’s SDLC (software development life cycle) is working. The in-fighting going on between development, testing and product management is leaking out of Apple’s nigh impenetrable walled garden and into the streets. It happened with Maps a couple years ago, and its happened again with iOS 8.0.1. While the fallout from the latest SNAFU won’t be nearly as big as it was with Maps, its toxic none the less, and needs to either be buried, or stop completely (the preferable outcome).

I’ve been in situations like this. Its hugely problematic, and hugely indicative of individuals that put themselves before the company…. and it never ends well, especially for individuals that are involved. The activity breaks down relationships, productivity and creates problems that kill opportunities to get future work done. It also breads additional problems, so the issues are circular.

This may go underground again; but then again, it may not. No matter how things are looked at, however, Apple has to make it stop.

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