Now that Apple’s WWDC keynote is over, reasonably technical iOS users are faced with the annual temptation: should they sign up for an iOS developer program membership and install the iOS 8 beta on their daily-use iOS devices?
Here’s the short answer: no.
Other tech companies like Google have taken to releasing roughly finished products to consumers for early testing under the beta label before. But the version of iOS 8 available to developers today is truly a beta: pre-release software, complete with serious bugs. Here are some past problems users have reported:
- Certain third- or even first-party apps will crash in strange places, or stop working entirely. Meanwhile, developers won’t be able to release a new version of their app that uses features in iOS 8 until after Apple releases the OS to the public. That means some bugs will go unfixed until this fall.
- The system will crash at inopportune times.
- Users will need to install a new version of the beta a few days after Apple releases it to developers, and devices that don’t get the update in time will cease to function.
- Updates will introduce bugs that cause users to lose data, including contact information.
- The usual channels Apple has available to help users with problems on their iOS devices will be closed to beta users. In all likelihood, the Genius Bar won’t help iOS 8 beta users figure out what’s wrong with their device, in part because they may not have received taining on it before.
- Devices running iOS 7.1.1 (the latest release of Apple’s current version of its mobile operating system) can’t be restored using an iOS 8 backup, meaning that users who want to downgrade from the beta will lose all the data they saved after upgrading.
iOS 8 includes a bunch of really awesome features that I’m looking forward to getting my hands on in the future. But getting early access to features like Apple’s updated Messages app and Family Sharing will cost users the stability of their iOS devices. Many developers use dedicated devices just for testing the iOS betas, and for good reason.
In the event you upgrade to the beta – despite my advice to the contrary – Ars Technica has a good guide about how to downgrade your iOS device from a beta version.
[This story has been updated to correct the length of WWDC.]