The latest version of iOS is not due to drop until the fall, but Apple is ramping up testing opportunities for the general public.
Techcrunch reported that the second public beta program for iOS 10 is now available to anybody that wants to take the operating system for a test drive prior to launch. The public beta follows the release this week of the third developer beta program that included SDKs for the imminent upgrades of macOS, iOS, watchOS and tvOS.
People who want to try out the pre-release versions of iOS 10 and macOS Sierra must be a member of the Apple Beta Software Program. Sign up is relatively easy and just needs an Apple ID to access the program. Once a person is signed in, they have to accept the Apple Beta Software Program Agreement, the rules and requirements for participation.
Apple recommends that people don’t install beta software on any primary use device, a sensible piece of advice when you consider beta versions of operating systems can have an awful lot of rough edges. As you would expect the beta program document is extremely thorough—the PDF version runs to 75 pages—and stresses that any feedback or issues should be kept confidential.
The main purpose of a public beta is to give Apple ongoing feedback on the quality and usability of the software. Enrolling a device in the program gives access to everything that Apple are working on in the OS, although it differs from the developer versions which are focused on building or testing apps.
“The feedback you provide on quality and usability helps us identify issues, fix them, and make Apple software even better,” said Apple, according to its FAQ document. “Please note that since the public beta software has not yet been commercially released by Apple, it may contain errors or inaccuracies and may not function as well as commercially released software. Be sure to back up your Mac using Time Machine and your iOS device with iTunes before installing beta software. Install only on non-production devices that are not business critical.”
Why Feedback Is A Critical Part Of OS Testing
Both the Mac OS Sierra and iOS 10 public betas have a built-in Feedback Assistant app—accessed through the second page of the Home screen on an iOS device or the Dock on a Mac. People who experience issues with the operating system can send feedback directly to Apple through this feature.
The public beta is free and does not require a developer account. The program is voluntary. Apple will not compensate a tester for their work and insists that people refrain from blogging, posting screen shots, tweeting or publicly posting information about the beta software. Full details about public participation in the Apple Beta Software Program can be found here.