With iOS 11.3 now released into the wild, people are finally getting a taste of this relatively major update and trying it on for size. While the majority of the features we expected with the iOS 11.3 release made the cut, AirPlay 2 and iCloud messages were notably absent.
Apple had a lot riding on iOS 11.3. With the release of this update, Apple hopes to regain the appreciation of some of the customers they frustrated with the admittance that they were slowing older iPhones, and by far the most important feature shipping with iOS 11.3 is the battery management option that allows people to turn off throttling on their older phones. However, iOS 11.3 was set to ship with a number of other updates and fixes, and two of those were AirPlay 2 and iCloud messages – two features that unfortunately didn’t make the cut.
Both features were present in some form or another during beta releases for iOS 11.3, but in the final release notes we didn’t see a mention of these exciting additions to the Apple family.
iCloud messages was actually announced back at WWDC back in June of last year, so it was assumed that it would be present in the update that Apple had been working so hard on. The feature was initially expected to ship with the release of iOS 11, but was pulled near the end of development – and as updates continued to pass, many were sure that we’d finally see the feature introduced with iOS 11.3. Indeed, it was part of the beta testing for quite some time which made it nearly a sure thing that it would be part of the release, but Apple didn’t seem to think it was ready, apparently, as it’s not a part of the operating system that rolled out today.
The AirPlay 2 feature was in a similar boat, announced quite a while ago and finding itself moving in and out of iOS 11.3 betas. However, it didn’t make the final cut and there’s currently no word from Apple as to why or when it will be eventually included.
At this point, we’re likely looking at a release for iOS 11.4 for both AirPlay 2 and iCloud messages, but it’s certainly disappointing for testers to have gotten the chance to get their hands on the features only to have them pulled at the last minute right ahead of launch.
Many are speculating as to why these features were pulled at the last minute – especially considering that so many people were so happy with the features and the testing generally went pretty well. As mentioned above, however, Apple is in a precarious place when it comes to the public image. They have already announced that they’re revisiting their development style, giving teams more time to work on stability and fixes and rolling out features when they’re truly ready rather than rushing everything out of the door. This approach will likely lead to a more stable operating system overall, which is a win that Apple so desperately needs, but it’s always disappointing to have a features that would have added additional functionality and convenience such as AirPlay 2 and iCloud messages unceremoniously cut from the update right before release.
As the update has just released, it will be a little bit of time before we get a sense as to how the firmware functions in the wild. If Apple made the decision to delay AirPlay 2 and messages in iCloud, however, it’s likely because they weren’t ready for release. With a renewed focus on stability and performance, we should expect more polished operating systems from the company moving forward – even if that means we receive a few less features with each update.