“Multiple people briefed on the plans” told 9to5Mac’s well-connected Mark Gurman that Apple could soon launch the first-ever public beta program for its mobile operating system in an effort to help eradicate bugs that have traditionally plagued major iOS releases, especially iOS 8.
Tim Cook & Co. are said to release upcoming iOS 8.3 code-named Stowe as a public beta through the existing AppleSeed program in mid-March, matching the third iOS 8.3 beta for developers expected to release the same week.
“Apple then expects to debut iOS 9 at its June Worldwide Developer Conference, with a public beta release during the summer, and final release in the fall,” Gurman wrote. Public iOS betas will include a tool to report bugs.
He added that the iOS Public Beta program will be initially limited to 100,000 people in order to “maintain a higher level of exclusivity.”
“Apple is also working on iOS 8.4, codenamed Copper, that bundles Apple’s all new streaming music service,” reads the article.
The Cupertino firm typically tests unreleased software internally for a few weeks ahead of launch. But as it’s been stretching itself too thin lately, and given the numerous bugs in iOS 8, Apple began seeding a select group of retail employees with iOS betas for minor releases in January.
As a reminder, OS X Yosemite’s release last year also marked the launch of the OS X Public Beta program, giving the first one million people who registered their interest online a chance to download Yosemite betas.
Before the launch of the program, only Apple’s registered developers were permitted to download OS X betas.
If Gurman is right, a small subset of the general public may soon have a chance to sample work-in-progress code of future iOS releases. I have no doubt in my mind that the iOS Beta Program is around the corner.
Major bugs that have been plaguing both iOS 7 and iOS 8 have hurt customer satisfaction and tarnished Apple’s brand. The “it just works” mantra no longer applies to Apple’s latest software releases to the extent it used to.
If the firm is to restore public confidence in its software prowess, the least it could do is let us download iOS betas without restriction so the general public could get an early look into upcoming releases and help improve Apple’s quality control.