Consumers who want to be on the bleeding edge of Apple’s software updates may have some good news coming later this year. According to a report by Mark Gurman at 9to5Mac, the company is planning a public beta for upcoming versions of iOS that would allow more people to test new updates to Apple’s mobile operating system on their iPhones and iPads prior to its release.
The public beta is slated to open in March for iOS 8.3, and then again in the summer for iOS 9 after its unveiling at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference. According to the report, the beta will be capped at 100,000 users, and Apple is already testing the system by seeding updates to some of its retail employees.
Apple is no stranger to sending out pre-release software for new versions of its operating system. The company already offers pre-release builds to members of its developer program (including a beta of iOS 8.3 that went out earlier this month), and it launched a public beta for OS X Yosemite last year.
Offering a public beta for iOS 9 makes sense, especially because that update is supposed to be more focused on improving iOS’s stability than the two most recent major revisions. A broader beta program would make it possible for Apple to gather performance data and feedback from more than just its base of developers in order to ensure that it has found all the problems it needs to fix.
Still, before you get your hopes up about having the latest version of iOS before everyone else on the block, it’s worth noting that past betas have been buggy, to say the least. Unlike beta products from companies like Google, using Apple’s beta software usually ships with bugs that range from annoying to downright destructive. The OS X public beta seemed to pass without any major incidents, but this new program likely won’t be for the faint of heart.