Apple’s iOS 11 Has Leaked; Does It Matter?

Steve Jobs perfected the art of the product reveal as performance with his well-timed, well-paced keynotes, dating back to that of the first Macintosh computer. Over the years, journalists and Apple users have come to expect that these events be glitzy, colorful shows, with new features demoed and words like “magical” bandied about, and often with special musical guests at the end.

Tomorrow, Apple will hold an event presenting the new iPhone, the next version of iOS, the next version of macOS, a new Apple Watch, and more (probably a new Apple TV, a shipping date for the HomePod, and maybe something else). But someone seems to have dampened the party a bit by leaking the final version of iOS 11 a few days ago. A couple of websites scrambled to dig into this software to present all the new features that hadn’t been announced, and that hadn’t been included in the beta versions that developers see (I am running the latest beta on one of my devices). And some commentators have criticize the leaker – presumably an Apple employee – for spoiling the show.

Because that’s what it is: a show. Apple, a nearly trillion-dollar company, lives and dies by its keynote presentations of new products. Even though much of what’s new in iOS 11 was presented months ago, there are some tidbits that weren’t clear. And this software leak has also revealed the names of the new iPhone models: iPhone 8, iPhone 8 plus, and iPhone X. For shame! We know in advance what the new iPhones are going to be called!

Some perspective. These are new products that are far from revolutionary, and their names are pretty much what was expected. People have been talking about them for months (though the big question that kept some people up at night seems to have been whether the base model would be the iPhone 7s or the iPhone 8).

Much of this is inside baseball, and the Apple news sector has little to say in the final weeks before new products are launched unless there are rumors or leaks. Apple is quite secretive, and this is important, but there’s really nothing in these leaks that is unexpected. Enough information has circulated about such things as Face ID replacing Touch ID, about the new shape of the iPhone, and more. In fact, Apple certainly leaks some of this information themselves, to build up interest (though the iOS 11 leak seems to have been a non-official leak).

Those not invested in the Apple news sector won’t care much about this, and, in the end, these leaks help Apple by drumming up interest among those who don’t follow websites that write about Apple. Leaks and solid rumors trickle down to mainstream news outlets, helping Apple build momentum before product launches. Some at Apple are certainly annoyed, but let’s be honest; there’s enough going on in the world to worry about without making a fuss over some leaks about a product about to be announced by the world’s most profitable company.