74: Entering beta

The iOS 10 and macOS Sierra public betas dropped last week, while I was on vacation. This is the earliest that public betas have been released since Apple started the program a few years ago. That's notable, but not surprising, as many who take the plunge for professional purposes noticed that the first developer betas seemed sturdier than usual.

I wasn't ready to update my phone on July 7 (and it certainly didn't help that my encrypted iTunes backup and I were in different states). The question is whether I'm ready now, just a few days later. I tend to be very conservative when it comes to major OS updates. I didn't update to iOS 9 until 9.0.1 came out. I figured I'd waited that long, so what was a couple more weeks to make sure that the showstopper bugs wouldn't affect me?

iOS 10 is the most excited I've been about getting my hands on an operating system since iOS 6. Yes, really, iOS 6. The promise of turn-by-turn directions (now mundane) plus major Siri improvements had me hooked until I realized that most of the new features wouldn't work on my iPhone 4. The huge redesign in iOS 7 was exciting, but my desire to use a beta build was tempered by obvious bugginess, which persisted well past the final release of 7.0. And, of course, as much as I wanted those prerelease OSes, I didn't actually have access to them, since I've never had a paid developer account.

Now the betas are public — one more barrier taken down — and the temptation is there, with angels and devils pushing and pulling. "Never, ever put a beta on your carry phone!" "It's fine, I ran beta 1 with no problem!" Ultimately I have to let my own conscience guide me. And I think this will be the year that I run an iOS beta for the first time. I'll take the due precautions, including backups of my encrypted backups.

Even then I'll have to be patient, as much of iOS 10's potential will only be unlocked as third-party developers start to take advantage of its powerful new APIs, like Siri integration, the new Maps and Messages mini-apps, and redesigned widgets. But I've seen enough app release notes that cheekily include "updates from the future" to know that those features will also arrive quickly. So I think my decision is made. The iOS public beta is here, and in the infamous words of Eddy Cue: I can't wait to do it.