Last autumn’s launch of iOS 8 wasn’t without its flaws. Shortly after the iPhone 6 released, Apple launched iOS 8.0.1 - which promptly bricked many devices. Needed a bit more testing, it seemed.
So for the first time, Apple reportedly plans on doing a whole lot more testing on its mobile operating system, thanks to a volunteer army of some 100,000 average device owners. That’s right: Apple plans to issue pre-release iOS builds for public beta testing.
Developers already get access to builds before release, and common users have often found ways to get at that software to scope out new features. But 9to5Mac reports that Apple plans to start releasing early builds to a group of testers with iOS 8.3 in March.
That update will bring Wireless CarPlay support, along with enhancements to Siri, the emoji keyboard, and Google logins, while the later iOS 8.4 is planned to have Apple’s new streaming music service bundled in. It’s unclear from the report whether Apple will also test iOS 8.4, especially if the music service hasn’t yet been officially announced by that point. But the initial iOS 8 test(s) will be a precursor to another for iOS 9 this summer after it’s likely announced at WWDC 2015 in June.
Last year, Apple opened up testing to OS X Yosemite to about a million testers, but 9to5Mac says this group will be a fraction of the size, and likely limited to just 100,000 users. They’ll be able to report bugs and help shape last tweaks to the software before the large revisions go live to all.
And there’s something to be said for greater transparency with users. After all, Microsoft’s technical preview of Windows 10 has been well received, and the company is seemingly on a huge upswing with tech-savvy folks. Apple’s reputation with its detractors won’t change just due to pre-release iOS access, but softening its restrictive image a bit can’t hurt.