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In software development 'cultural shift', Apple won't hold features for major annual point-zero releases

Rather than packing everything it can into an anticipated "iOS 12" later this year, Apple will reportedly spread out new features into future software updates, meaning "iOS 12.1" and beyond could bring big improvements to the iPhone and iPad.

Details on the so-called "cultural shift" within Apple's software development team were shared on Monday by Bloomberg, who reported that software chief Craig Federighi informed the team last month that things would be different going forward. With the new strategy, Apple will focus on the next two years of iPhone and iPad software updates, rather than "cramming features into a single update."

That's not to say that big improvements to iOS are not planned for later this year. Reporter Mark Gurman said new capabilities in the pipeline include Animoji characters in FaceTime, enhancements to Do Not Disturb, deeper integration of Siri into Spotlight search, and a revamped Stocks app.

A big update said to be in the works for 2019 is the ability to run "several windows in one app" on the iPad. Users will reportedly switch between apps just like tabs in a web browser.

Still on track for this year, however, is project "Marzipan," a feature that will make it easier for developers to port iOS apps to the Mac and run a single unified code base. According to Gurman, it's likely that Apple will bring its own Home app for HomeKit controls to the Mac with macOS 10.14, known internally as "Liberty."

Word first surfaced last month that Apple internally told developers that some key features planned for this year would be pushed back to 2019 to allow the company to focus on performance and reliability. It was said that "flashier changes" like a redesigned home screen will wait for future updates.

If Apple sticks to its regular annual release pattern, as is expected to do, then "iOS 12" should be unveiled at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference in June, before launching to the public in September.

In the interim, the company is working on a new iOS 11.3 update that will give users the ability to check the health of their device's battery, and choose to enable or disable automatic throttling of older devices to prevent random shutdowns. The update also includes four new Animoji, support for Messages in iCloud, ARKit 1.5, and tweaks to Apple Music and Apple News.