A little over a week ago, Apple surprised developers by issuing a new beta of its iOS 13 operating system, which will run on the upcoming iPhones expected in September. Every year, Apple releases iOS developer betas for its x.0 version: The process starts in early June, when the features are announced at its developers’ conference (WWDC), and runs to mid-September when the new phones are shown off at an invite-only event.
But it didn’t happen that way this year.
Instead of getting a new version of 13.0, we got the first beta of 13.1, which you wouldn’t expect to see until 13.0 had reached “GM” (Gold Master status — a phrase from the old days when new versions of operating systems came on CDs, which were copied from a master version made of, yes, gold).
The last beta of 13.0 was thus beta 8, on August 21.
The people at Apple are rational. Believe this above all else.
There followed lots of post-facto rationalization from various folks. “Aha!” they said. “Earlier betas of 13.0 were unreliable compared to those of 12.0, so Apple just took out some of the features promised at WWDC for 13.0, and it’s adding them back for 13.1!” By their logic, Apple had decided to go for “stability” in 13.0, and would then deploy the harder-to-do features in a later release. (In the past, the x.1 release typically follows about six weeks after the x.0 GM release.)
I don’t think so. What I’ve heard — third-hand, from someone reliable, who says they heard it from someone who works at a non-iOS part of Apple — is that Apple did this to preempt tariffs on iPhones that were due to be applied in the U.S. from September.
Holy forking tarballs
Nobody at Apple is likely to confirm this one way or another, so we have to use the usual Occam’s razor approach to all this — gathering all the available information to try to pick what seems the most rational explanation. Because the people at Apple are rational. Believe this above all else.