Apple has been deluged with complaints from users who say the latest version of its mobile operating system is breaking links and crashing apps.
“Following iOS 9.3 on iPhone 6splus update links in safari no longer open, then safari crashes — any ideas how to fix? Same problem in Chrome,” user John MacDonald posted Monday on Apple’s support page on Twitter.
Another user, Armando Couri Filho, had similar problems. “My IPhone 6 is not opening links from Safari, Mail and WhatsApp. What should I do?” he asked Apple support.
“Clicking on links in the new iOS update causes safari to freeze. I’ve had to switch to using @googlechrome and @firefox,” noted Ohanes Kalayjian.
What’s causing the problem with links in iOS 9.3? So far, Apple has been mum on the subject, but according to one news report, the issue could be with Universal Links, which Apple introduced in iOS 9.0.
Universal Links allow Web links to be opened directly from within apps running under iOS without first opening Apple’s Web browser, Safari.
The Universal Links are stored in a database in iOS, and if an app contains too many, they will crash not only the app, but Safari too, according to TechCrunch.
However, that doesn’t explain why apps without any Universal Links are crashing, nor does it explain other problems, such as iOS refusing to verify updates because it says a device is not connected to the Internet when clearly it is.
Of course, unlike with some desktop operating systems that allow an update to be rolled back to a previous version that worked fine, once most users commit to a new version of iOS, there’s no turning back.
There are good reasons for that no-rollback policy, noted Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.
“Many more times than not, the latest software is safer and better,” he told TechNewsWorld.
What’s more, “backgrades are very complex and if not done precisely, the backgrade could break all functionality,” Moorhead added.
More Regression Testing Needed
Kevin Krewell, an analyst with Tirias Research, has the new iOS running on his iPhone and hasn’t experienced any problems with it yet, he said.
However, “any time there’s a major change in an operating system, there’s always the risk of problems,” he told TechNewsWorld
“I would be concerned that Apple is not doing enough regression testing on applications to catch these things before they ship new software,” Krewell said.
Although Apple always has touted its commitment to software excellence, the latest iOS fumble may be a sign it’s succumbing to the pressures plaguing all software makers, according to Moorhead.
“Apple should take a look at their development process as insiders are starting to question their commitment to software quality,” he said.
“Apple is racing top speed across many different, complex platforms, and every software developer, including Microsoft and Google, are issuing software with bugs,” Moorhead continued.
“The whole software industry has taken a fast-fail approach to get code out and let users find fixes,” he said. “This is particularly happening in consumer environments.”
Too Many Apps
Given the size of Apple’s app ecosystem, the problem of getting everything to work right is a mighty one for the company, which released seven beta versions of iOS 9.3 before sending it to users.
“It’s hard when your ecosystem is so large, but they should have stats on which apps are most popular and test for those,” Krewell said.
“Part of the problem is the amplification of software. There are so many different apps, it’s getting harder and harder for Apple to keep track of the apps you have on your phone,” he added.
“While it is true that OS updates need to go through intense scrutiny before being pushed to customers, it’s sometimes impossible to test for all in-the-wild scenarios,” added Adrian Liviu Arsene, a senior threat analyst with Bitdefender.
“The issue here,” he said, “is how fast will Apple fix the bug, how many apps trigger the crash, and whether it will persist even after the fix.”