Apple will launch iOS public previews to get more eyeballs on bug hunt

Apple plans to launch an invite-only public beta of iOS 8.3 next month, then expand the program this summer with iOS 9.

Apple will launch an invite-only public beta of iOS 8.3 next month, then expand the program this summer with iOS 9, according to online reports.

The public preview -- Apple's first for iOS -- will follow the debut of a similar program last year for OS X Yosemite, the Mac operating system.

"With a public preview, you get much broader and thorough testing," said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research. "Problems with early versions of iOS show that Apple needs this, that they can't rely on internal and private testing before general availability." first reported on the impending iOS beta program; other media outlets, including, later claimed the report was legitimate. Both cited unnamed sources.

According to, Apple will use its invitation-only AppleSeed program to publicly offer iOS 8.3 starting in mid-March. Registered Apple developers have had access to a preliminary version of iOS 8.3 for two weeks.

AppleSeed is not currently taking new participant requests, Apple stated on the program's FAQ page.

After Apple introduces iOS 9 at its annual developer conference in June -- a now-standard practice -- the Cupertino, Calif. company will expand the beta to the general public. said that Apple would restrict the iOS 9 public preview to 100,000 customers.

That two-step process would mimic last year's introduction of the first OS X public beta since 2000.

In April 2014, Apple kicked off a public preview of the then-current OS X Mavericks with a sneak peek at version 10.9.3, an impending update to Mavericks. Two months later, Apple executive Craig Federighi announced a public beta of OS X Yosemite, Mavericks' successor, from the stage at Apple's WWDC (Worldwide Developer Conference).

Apple limited the Yosemite public beta to a million users.

"More eyeballs," said Gottheil when asked what Apple hoped to achieve with the iOS beta.

Apple could use those extra eyes: Almost invariably, the initial version of an iOS edition requires quick bug quashing. Last year, for example, Apple issued its first update to iOS 8 just one week after the official launch, but then pulled the update almost immediately after reports flooded social media and the company's own support forum that customers' iPhone 6 and 6 Plus smartphones couldn't connect to a cellular network.

iPhone owners quickly lashed out at Apple, with some excoriating the company for not testing the flawed iOS 8.0.1 update.

Gottheil also mentioned software quality, and brought up the discussion last month about a perceived slump at Apple, one that other analysts also echoed. "Some of the software [development] discipline has relaxed," Gottheil argued. In theory, a public preview should catch the most egregious bugs before the mobile operating system is more broadly released.

The success of the OS X Yosemite public preview -- even though that OS was also criticized for containing bugs -- likely emboldened Apple to dive into the far more popular iOS, said Gottheil.

"But given the nature of automatic updates, this is really more a matter of setting expectations and communicating the state of the product than a change in the process," said Gottheil, referring to the idea -- accepted by some, rejected by others -- that software is always a work in progress.

"With a public beta, Apple can do what they did with Siri, say 'This is not a finished product, software is not 100% bug-free,'" said Gottheil. "They can say, 'We told you,' when problems crop up."

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags ApplesecuritysoftwareApple iOS

More about AppleTechnology

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Gregg Keizer

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place