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Opinion

Why You Shouldn't Run Beta Software Unless You Know What You're Doing

Aulia Masna - 17 June 2013

Apple announced iOS 7 last week at Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco along with OS X Mavericks and at the same time released the first developer beta versions of both operating systems. Neither OS will be available publicly until later this year but of course, there are people who just couldn't wait. If you have no business testing unfinished software, you really shouldn't install a beta software. Let me tell you why.

For most people, the excitement happens mainly around iOS 7 and there was a rush to install the beta even though it's still doesn't work properly. You should know that many developers still haven't even installed it, so you shouldn't bother either.

You also should know that Apple's beta software expires after several weeks, requiring you to install a new version before the current period ends or your phone will be dead because you can't install older versions of the software. This repeats until the public version is out.

Even publicly released software is often riddled with bugs, so when it comes to beta software, expect a metric ton more of them coming your way. This of course applies universally with every software on the testing stage. Some companies label their products as beta as a get out of jail free card for when users complain of issues but when Apple says a software is in beta, it really means it.

When Apple says it's beta software, it means things will break. Data will be lost. Apps will not run. Certain features are missing, and those that are there are likely to not work properly anyway. You'll see more restarts, resets and freezes. You'll see things showing up when they're not supposed to and you'll see things not showing up when they're supposed to.

Local music sharing app Social Play is set to have its public launch tonight and it has undergone several weeks of testing on iOS 6 and older. When tested on iOS 7, guess what, it doesn't work. And because the launch is tonight, the developers haven't got the time to even take a look at what's changed in iOS 7 let alone making sure their app works on the new OS. Across the world, similar scenarios are playing out affecting mobile software developers big and small.

Your favorite apps are unlikely to work properly on beta OS because there's plenty of changes under the hood that affects how applications interact with the operating system and the hardware. There are some that will work, but many will not.

Like the Social Play engineers, developers behind third party apps are unlikely to have their apps ready for iOS 7 at this point, given that it's barely a week after the start of WWDC, but of course iOS 7 is still three or four months way from showing up under Software Update, so there's still some time left to get ready.

In the meantime, leave beta software to the testers and the engineers, and maybe to daring bloggers who sacrifice their devices so you don't have to. There's no need to "review" a beta software because seriously, how dumb are you to review and complain about an unfinished product?

Yes, having the latest thing is exciting. It's something new, it's something awesome. But when that new thing keeps breaking all the time, you're going to be cursing, swearing, and generally be unhappy about it, so why use it?

If you're a software developer and you come across bugs in the software, you'll file bug reports to the vendor, which in this case would be Apple. If you're not a software developer and don't have a developer account, you will have a barely working device that restarts at random and runs out of battery sooner than it's supposed to.

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