Ever wonder why those Apple iPhone updates take so damn long?
Turns out Apple execs were testing new file system on you
It's a recurring pain experienced by all iPhone owners: the huge and very slow software updates that require you to plug your phone in and forget about it for 30 minutes.
Many have also wondered why the phone feels the need to shut down, start up again, shut down again and start up again before finally letting you get at it.
Well, wonder no more. In an on-stage love fest last week between Apple fanboi John Gruber and senior execs Phil Schiller and Craig Federighi, Federighi – SVP of software engineering – revealed that in the iOS 10.1 and/or 10.2 upgrades to its operating system, it caused every device to upgrade to Apple's new APFS (Apple File System), check it, and then roll back to the current HFS+ system.
Asked by Gruber just how Apple managed to be so... so great when it comes to its new file system, Federighi revealed (at around 28 mins into the video): "We actually had this process running for earlier iOS updates. When you updated to 10.1 or 10.2 we were trial-migrating your whole file system, consistency checking it, reporting back to us whether the upgrade was 100 per cent clean and then rolling it back."
That would explain why the 10.1 update (issued in October 2016) had people scratching their heads over its massive size – anything up to 1.6GB for the iPhone 7 Plus. It may also explain the widespread problems that people reported with the updates, including it shutting down unexpectedly while still having a 30 per cent charge with the 10.2 update, issued in December 2016.
And it likely explains why Apple had to put out a 10.1.1 update just a week after the massive 10.1 update, because people were continuing to report serious problems.
Not that Apple let anyone know about using its entire installed based as guinea pigs – and there is no mention of changing or testing the new file system in Apple's upgrade notes for either 10.1 or 10.2.
APFS was finally introduced in iOS update 10.3 at the end of March, three months after the 10.2 updates and five months after Apple first started experimenting on people's phones. Users reported surprise at the fact that it freed up around 10 per cent of the phone storage space as well as increased its overall capacity by around five per cent.
Of course, this being Gruber and a theater full of Apple fanbois, Federighi's explanation for why millions of people had to suffer enormous and slow updates as well as phone problems was met with... lots of whooping and a round of applause. Amazing. ®