Bugs, incompatibilities and other weird things are so common in pre-release software, they’re practically guaranteed—which is why Apple has now blocked iOS 9 beta testers from leaving App Store reviews.
Apple apparently wants to nip premature complaints in the bud, which seems very logical and reasonable. But it should have seen this issue coming ahead of time. Developers may be used to dealing with unfinished software, but everyday iPhone users may not be prepared for the unexpected problems that often go along for that ride.
What makes matters worse, according to developers: Some of those issues didn’t even stem from programming errors in their own apps, but from iOS 9 itself. In a sense, it was like taking the fall for someone else. Apple has been focusing on improving iOS development, but if it’s serious about supporting its app-making community, it shouldn’t overlook such common-sense matters.
Apple Should Have Seen This Coming
When it comes to mobile apps, reputation can be everything. That’s why App Store reviews and its popularity charts can wield so much power.
So naturally, some developers had a right to worry when they saw beta testers leaving one-star app reviews—particularly since some of those problems came from issues in iOS 9’s code.
Gotta love 1-star reviews for iOS 9 Beta issues. https://t.co/6lrFn9cP65
— Paul Mayne (@paulmayne) July 11, 2015
Apple executives must be monitoring social media more closely these days, first responding to Taylor Swift’s plea for Apple Music royalties and now reacting to developer woes like this being tweeted out. Although it didn’t officially announce any changes to its policy, word has spread that the company has indeed blocked beta testers from leaving reviews.
Apparently users of the iOS 9 beta now get this message if they attempt to leave an App Store review:
Finally — you can't write App Store reviews from beta iOS. ? pic.twitter.com/xu03SSi96k
— Ryan Orbuch (@orbuch) July 22, 2015
On the surface, the company appears to have acted quickly, striking reviews mere weeks after the iOS 9 beta opened up to the public. But dig deeper, and you’ll realize that the issue goes back several months.
iOS 9 is the first major update to get the public beta treatment, but it’s not the very first to take this route. The company opened up iOS 8.3 betas back in March.
Opening up early access probably looked like a great way to go. Not only can the tactic help drum up excitement among users, but this wider availability—which also wound up extending to Mac OS X—allows for a huge army of free beta testers. Too bad it also exposed Apple and its app developers to millions of users who don’t necessarily understand what using beta software entails.
Better Late Than Never?
Clearly, Apple wants to make its iPhone and the apps that run on it as bulletproof as possible. Most recently, it expanded the limit on test devices—from 100 in total to 100 devices per Apple device type (iPhones, iPads, Apple TVs, etc).
As for this latest change, it’s not immediately clear if it the new policy will affect any previous reviews left by beta testers. But at least from now on, developers may get some much-needed breathing room to get their apps fully iOS 9 compatible, without fear of bashing.
Hopefully, it will also serve as a timely reminder to users that beta versions are not the same as polished, full releases.
The final version of iOS 9 should officially see the light of day when this year’s iPhones are launched around September time. It brings with it a more proactive Siri, multitasking views for the iPad, and a News app that showcases a curated list of articles from selected publishers, among other new features.
Image courtesy of Apple