One of the most frequent comments on our iOS 6 videos is something along the lines of “how did you get iOS 6 already? Can I download it?” The web is full of people buying and selling slots in developer accounts and hacks to get around the restrictions Apple puts on betas. But should those restrictions be ignored? Many of Apple’s rules seem sort of arbitrary and unnecessary, but I don’t think it’s crazy to restrict who can run beta releases of iOS 6.
Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of new features and UI changes and forget that a beta is unfinished software. It is not ready for consumer use. Apple releases betas for the sole reason of giving developers a head start to make sure their apps are up to date when iOS 6 actually is ready. Yet, I’d wager that a pretty hefty majority of the current beta users have never developed an application.
Now I’m not trying to call anybody out here, I’m saying all this stuff from experience. I’m running the first beta of iOS 6 on my iPad and iPhone, but I have no idea how to build an app. I’m not going to lie and say it’s not cool to have Siri on my iPad before everyone else and I love that I’m able to explore the software and tell you guys about it, but there are definitely some downsides as well. Now that I’ve gotten some real time and every day use with what will eventually become iOS 6, my opinion has changed slightly.
Betas are buggy. They lag, they crash, sometimes features are nonfunctional, and they really aren’t meant for the type of heavy everyday use that I’m trying to get out of them. My main problems with the iOS 6 beta are in the Music app and the Messages app. My music has a mind of its own. It’ll play randomly in my pocket, it’ll play songs I didn’t select, it’ll pause or skip of its own volition and not respond when I ask it to. Messages is similar – if a bunch of messages come in at once, the whole app just freezes. Switching between conversations can sometimes take up to a couple minutes of waiting, and the “sending” progress bar is far from accurate. Not to mention if there are a bunch of apps running in the background, fast app switching via the multitasking bar is laughable (or, it would be if it wasn’t so frustrating).
Now I could say that if I didn’t write for Today’s iPhone, I would still be on iOS 5, but that would be a lie as well. In the past I’ve paid for registration, I’ve jailbroken and I’ve even bricked my device in an attempt to start using a version of iOS that wasn’t ready for use yet. So this time around, I find I’m asking myself more and more whether getting my hands on some new features early is worth sacrificing the usability of the old ones.
It seems to me that this is one of those times where I know the right answer – which is probably no, it isn’t worth it – but will do the opposite anyway simply because I can’t help myself. Most of you probably have stronger will power then me, so now I ask you the same question. If you’re running the beta of iOS 6, do you think the early upgrade was worth the bugs you have to deal with? If you’re still stuck on 5.1.1, are you happy to wait for the issues to be ironed out before upgrading or can you not wait to get that Do Not Disturb features? And, just for my own curiosity, those of you that are running iOS 6, are you actually a developer working on apps or just an upgrade-happy iOS user?
You can also let me know on twitter!