SharePlay is delayed for iOS 15: is it time for a two-year release schedule?

Heavily showcased at WWDC this year for Apple’s new updates for its software, SharePlay has now been confirmed to be delayed from the initial release of updates.

A feature that was given lots of attention this year, it allows users and developers to share a screen with family and friends, where you could use this across your iPhone, iPad and Mac devices.

However, it looks as though we’re heading towards the final version of these updates, as Apple is holding back some features to make sure iOS 15, iPadOS 15 and macOS 12 Monterey are ready to go for the fall release.

What is SharePlay?

SharePlay was touted as a big tentpole feature for this year by Apple, allowing users to share their screen with friends and family to watch films and shows, with developers also able to use the feature for apps.

But with the new design of Safari mostly reverting back to how it was in iOS 14, the company looks to be focusing energies on making sure that the updates are ready very soon.

Apple explains: “SharePlay will be enabled for use again in future developer beta releases and will launch to the public in software updates later this fall. 

We’re thrilled with the high level of enthusiasm we’ve seen from the developer community for SharePlay, and we can’t wait to bring it to users so that they can experience your apps with their friends and family in a whole new way.”

WWDC 2021 screenshot

(Image credit: Apple)

Analysis: Is it time to release iOS every two years instead?

Usually when Apple delays certain features to a future software release, it means that the final versions are close to release, which in turn could also mean that the new devices are also on their way.

You may recall that iOS 13 had a rough development cycle, with many features showcased at WWDC in 2019 delayed to October and the subsequent year. When the iPhone 11 line of smartphones was released in September, these came loaded with iOS 13.1, an unprecedented move from Apple.

However, with SharePlay delayed, a rollback of the new Safari design now confirmed and Universal Control, which allows an iPad to be a second screen to a Mac, are all now nowhere to be seen in the public betas, it’s difficult to answer what the standout features of iOS 15 are now.

Every year, there would be one tentpole feature that would be the showcase of that major release. iOS 14 brought widgets, iOS 13 brought dark mode and external storage support for iPad for example.

In iOS 15, it seems as though it’s a collection of small refinements and updates across the board, with notifications seeing a redesign in how they’re delivered to your device.

This isn’t a bad thing, but it does give credence as to whether yearly updates of major software releases from Apple are justified now.

With so many operating systems that the company needs to maintain, having a two-year development cycle for iOS could benefit Apple and users in the long run.

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