Apple yesterday issued a tenth beta of iOS 11. The thing is, we’ve never had as many as ten betas preceding a final release so this is uncharted territory for Apple and its developers.

As per conventional wisdom, the next release should arrive in the form of a Golden Master.

In software engineering, a Golden Master (also referred to as a Gold Master or just GM) is a final version of software ready for release to manufacturing. In terms of iOS betas, an iOS Golden Master candidate, in most cases, carries the same build number as a final public release that customers get to download through Settings → General → Software Update.

In a video below our own Andrew O’Hara discuses iOS 11 beta 10, speculating that it’s most likely the last beta before a Golden Master is released ahead of the September 12 keynote.

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But what if we’re in for another beta?

And, assuming the Cupertino company indeed issues iOS 11 beta 11 in the coming days, how could they possibly follow up with a Golden Master candidate and get a final iOS 11 release onto the new iPhones with such a short timeline?

I’ve had an interesting discussion about that with Jim Gresham on Twitter.

It would seem Apple has solved this problem a few years ago, at least on paper.

According to the company’s patent application published in March 2015 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, they’ve invented a smart packaging system that would permit them to personalize new devices while still in the packaging at retail stores.

PatentlyApple has a great explainer but in a nutshell, devices would be shipped to stores in a special “packaged power mode” that uses a very limited amount of power—just enough to let them be awoken by a nearby computing device.

An employee would simply tap a special label on the packaging to wake up the packaged device. The device would then connect wirelessly with another computing device in sufficient proximity for discovery information to be exchanged (something like AirDrop).

From there, store employees could remotely personalize the packaged device, change settings and even update its software wirelessly.

Pretty rad, wouldn’t you agree?

  • daniel

    If the new iOS will be released next week after the presentation then I can’t see another beta been released, usually when there is a presentation of the new iOS in autumn time it will also announce the release time to general public

  • nova12

    Apple Store employees being able to update s/w with the phones/iPads on the shelf would put a further dent in jailbreaking, I suspect. although with jailbreaks taking longer and longer, not sure it really matters anymore.

  • burge

    I’m just looking forward to getting this beta off my watch.

  • Charlie

    Likely to, it’s not a gold master yet is it

  • Abhinav Chaudhary

    They don’t have to get the final iOS 11 onto iPhones on 12th. They have the time wondow till first iPhone ships this year.

  • Abhinav Chaudhary

    Just a theory question, is it possible to physically steal the Apple’s private purple key so as to sign any firmware?

  • Alejandro Delgado

    I’ve been using public beta 9 on my 7+ since yesterday and I think there may be a small, but noticeable, improvement on the battery performance. We are nearing GM no doubt.

  • I really don’t get why this commotion about 10 betas for iOS 11.

    Apple is releasing 4 or 5 Beta’s for a bug fixing only like in 10.3.3.

    To implement so many new features in a new OS, sounds reasonable to test even more and discover more bugs to fix. Right?