Following reports from Apple news specialist 9to5Mac that iOS 9 will prioritise stability after a turbulent patch of bugginess, the same source reveals that iOS 8.3 and 9 will be offered on a public beta programme.
Given that Apple debuted a public beta programme last year for Mac OS X, which gave one million Apple users advance access to Yosemite before its official launch, the move to offer similar public testing of the mobile software makes a lot of sense. Apple clearly want more pre-launch feedback about what ordinary users made of MacOS X: getting more eyeballs on the pre-launch software every day would, Apple reasoned, lead to greater stability in the final shipping product.
The iOS user base dwarfs that of Mac OS X, of course, but Apple appears to have concluded that, if the Mac OS X trial went well, it would benefit from a public beta test for mobile, too (scrutiny of future software is nowhere near as intense as this amongst the competition and the media).
It looks like Apple really is taking the project of eliminating bugginess, which we last reported on here on 12th February, very seriously indeed, reclaiming its reputation for producing software and gadgets that “just work.” Upcoming releases of the mobile OS are rumoured to include wireless “CarPlay” support, allowing users to listen to streaming music content based on Beats tech without faffing around with cable connectors. And, of course, the overarching aim is to provide abundant stability and reliability fixes in iOS 9.
That all makes now a logical time for pre-launch testing. The iOS 8.3 beta is reportedly scheduled to kick off in March, with iOS 9’s starting in the summer.
According to 9to5Mac, it’ll offer the beta programme to a far smaller number of non-developer testers than those allowed on the OS X beta programme – just 100,000 as opposed to 1 million. But then, the stakes are higher given the magnitude of the iOS user base. Reading between the lines, it seems likely that Apple has decided to control its test group more tightly – granting pre-launch access to ordinary users is bound to change the way its forthcoming software will be covered and discussed. We’ll watch what happens to Apple’s media strategy this year with interest.