Home Apple Wants You To Help In The War On iOS Bugs

Apple Wants You To Help In The War On iOS Bugs

After last year’s incessantly buggy iOS releases, Apple appears ready to do anything to sniff out glitches before they hit users en masse—including letting them volunteer as guinea pigs to test pre-release iPhone software.

According to 9to5Mac, Apple will give users an early look at iOS 8.3 by releasing its very first public beta of the software in mid-March. That seems like a bit of a jump, since the current iOS release is version 8.1.3. Apparently Apple is sticking with its traditional test-and-release path for iOS 8.2, now in the hands of developers. The report also claims that Apple will follow up with a public beta release for iOS 9 in the summer.

See also: Apple: Sorry Our iOS 8 Update Borked Your iPhone; Here’s How To Fix It

Though the chronology may seem confusing, the overall move itself would make sense in several ways—namely, turning a previous P.R. nightmare into a win.

Spinning A Fail Into A Win

Last fall, iOS 8 brought a world of hurt to users. Various bugs bricked some phones and messed up photo syncing, messages and more on others. None of the problems really hurt iPhone sales, but the company could clearly do without more stumbles of that magnitude.

A public beta gives Apple a golden opportunity to find bugs while also giving fans an early peek at new features. The additional participants would also make for an extra large swath of beta-testers—all the better to really put the software through its paces and boost the odds of finding problems early. Essentially, Apple could give itself an exceptionally large mallet for its whack-a-mole game of bug squashing.

There would be, of course, one more obvious benefit for the company. With a public beta, Apple would have a built-in excuse, should a hail of glitches rain down devices: “Hey, it’s beta software! You knew that going in.”

The public betas will be a first for iOS, though Apple has gone this route before for Mac OS X. The company made beta versions of “Yosemite” (OS X 10.10) available ahead of its October 2014 final release, granting the first one million people who signed up access to the early software. (It’s on track to do the same with the upcoming OS X version 10.10.3.)

iOS eligibility may not be quite so wide open, according to the 9to5Mac story, which says the company will only accept 100,000 iOS testers to maintain an air of “exclusivity.”

Nicknamed “Stowe,” developer versions of iOS 8.3 went out earlier this month. It included some bug fixes and improvements, along with support for wireless CarPlay.

Lead image adapted from artwork courtesy of Library Of Congress

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