For the first time ever, Apple is launching public beta versions of the software that runs the ubiquitous iPhone, starting with iOS 8.3. According to 9to5Mac, the public beta, which will be released mid-March, is an attempt to smoke out bugs before iOS 8.3 is released to the masses. (The beta for iOS 9 will hit this summer, the report says.) However, it also signals an increasing shift away from the way Apple has typically handled imperfect iterations of its products.
Following the string of updates that attempted, failed, and kept attempting to fix iOS 8’s buggy release, this is as open an admission to iOS’s recent lapses in quality control that we’ll get. Like most beta programs, the upcoming release would presumably allow early consumers to test out software and new features–such as wireless CarPlay, for example–and then send Apple usage and error data before the official launch.
Apple recently used this strategy with the first public beta for the desktop Mac OS X Yosemite, which was released last July and available to the first million users who signed up. 9to5Mac’s sources say that the public beta for iOS 8.3 will be limited to 100,000.
It’s unclear whether this new approach represents a sea change for the normally taciturn tech giant, but it just might help silence the critics who point to iOS’s frayed edges as the result of a Jobs-less Apple.