It took just 48 hours from the first rumours of iOS 4.3.3’s contents to the update’s official release. The iPhone and iPad update fixes the so-called location tracking bug, or as Apple prefers to call it the “iOS crowd-sourced location database cache”.
The fact this not only sorts problems with iPhones not using location services storing data, but also limits the amount of data cached and stops its storage in iTunes, has already been seen as a move by Apple to allay wider fears of privacy campaigners.
But beyond that, the swiftness of the release is something that should be taken into consideration. It’s just a fortnight since the story stole the headlines and a week since Steve Jobs gave an interview saying that an update would be released in due course. That’s an impressive turnaround by anyone’s standards, with Apple’s staff clearly being forced to work at lightning speed to keep its customers happy.
This is clearly an approach that Apple prides itself on and one which puts it well ahead of its rivals. When Android updates take an eternity to reach the slew of different phones on the market and Windows Phone 7’s boost causes untold issues for Microsoft, rushing out this update is an open goal for Apple. It can prove that it’s better at reacting to customers’ concerns, even if Jobs reckons there are no major issues for his users to worry about.
In a wider context, the release of iOS 4.3.3 acts as a timely reminder of the benefits of Apple’s ‘closed’ approach to its operating system. While rivals might say it’s not fair, Apple is able to release updates to devices which are all singing from the same hymn sheet.
The same can’t be said for WP7, with Microsoft having to publish a table detailing what phones would be getting software upgrades depending on model and carrier. RIM’s already having to promise software updates for its PlayBook, but can’t say exactly when it’ll be out. Apple doesn’t suffer from this problem and its users are all the better for it.
Of course, location tracking is not something to dismiss and Apple has made some serious mistakes in this regard. But the manner in which it’s dealt with the problem, at a speed Google, RIM and Microsoft could only dream of, shows that at least it knows that when something needs sorting, it should be done in quick smart fashion.