First things first:
If you haven’t heard, the newest versions of iOS and macOS are out now. But unless you NEED to update, it’s probably a wise idea to hold off.
My first major iOS update was last year’s bump to version 12, and it was relatively smooth. Apparently that is not at all the norm, though, and it looks like this year things may be a bit less polished than usual.
There have been a fair number of bugs in iOS 13. Just two weeks or so after release, we’re already up to iOS 13.1.2.
In case you weren’t aware, the most widely known software numbering scheme is called “semantic versioning”. In this versioning scheme, the numbers indicate the degree of change: major.minor.patch. So iOS 13 was almost immediately followed by 13.1 (which added a few missing features that didn’t make it into 13). This was then followed by two different bug fixes: 13.1.1 and 13.1.2.
This kind of aggressive update cycle is both good and bad. It’s good that Apple is trying to fix the mess that (apparently) was the initial release of iOS 13 (and 13.1). It’s bad, however, that they were put in a position where these kinds of releases were necessary.
I’ve heard of lots of different bugs, from app and Springboard crashes to increased Apple Watch battery drain (even on older, non-Series 5 watches).
There are also some weird app incompatibilities. For example, the new built-in Reminders app is much better (although I’m sticking with Notion and Todoist for now), but if you want to use Reminders on your iOS and macOS device, either both must be on the newest OS version (iOS 13 and Catalina) or neither. You can’t use the new version on one platform and the old version on another.
On the whole, the iOS 13 update doesn’t have many great new features (at least for me), and waiting is no problem. Unless you need any of the iOS 13 features right now, I would hold off on updating. Of course, if you are buying a new iPhone 11 or 11 Pro, you’ll get iOS 13.1.2 out of the box – so good luck!
The macOS update (to Catalina), on the other hand, is going to be a big deal for lots of people.
32-Bit Apps: Gone
I’ll go ahead and put this at the top: Catalina will break support for 32-bit apps. If you use any 32-bit apps on your Mac, you’ll need to find alternatives or get used to not using them once you update to Catalina.
One easy way to find out what apps on your Mac are 32-bit:
Apple logo → About this Mac → System Report → Applications (left sidebar) → Click on “64-Bit” to sort the 32-bit apps to the top.
You may have to scroll to the right a bit to see the “64-Bit” heading, and non-64-bit apps will be labeled as “No”. Keep in mind that apps obtained from Apple should be updated to 64-bit during the Catalina installation, but apps from other developers will not work until they are updated.
This is a big deal, and will likely lead to quite a few issues for unprepared users and developers.
Security: More secure, more nagging
There are lots of other new security features that may be helpful or annoying (depending on your personal preference and specific apps that you use). This is the upgraded Gatekeeper system, which will scan apps when they are launched (and periodically after they are installed) to make sure they are secure.
This new more watchful Gatekeeper will definitely lead to lots more security warnings and pop-ups. These can be a good thing, since they may make users more aware of malicious or misbehaving apps (or stop them altogether), or it may also just lead to users mindlessly clicking “Okay” without noticing useful warnings.
The really big takeaway of this should be that unless you need a new feature in iOS 13 or macOS Catalina, you should hold off on updating for a little bit.
Since the two OSes are so closely tied together (with incompatible versions of apps like Reminders), once you do one update, you’ll probably need to do the other.
But right now iOS is not as stable as you would hope it to be, and macOS Catalina will likely cause a few (or more) of your older apps to just stop working.
If you can wait a month (or few), do it.