Apple launches public beta program for would-be iOS testers

13 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apple Kicks Off Public Beta For iOS 8.3.

Apple has launched a public beta program for iOS (via 9to5Mac), with the latest build of iOS 8.3 (which includes advanced Message filtration features) acting as the first seed. iOS 8.2 dropped on Monday—you might have noticed an undeleteable Apple Watch app installed on your iPhone 5 or later—but as a wise Milwaukee native once sang, “Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future.” So true, and so do software updates.Apple has a new update out for iOS 8.3, and within, we find more evidence that the company is looking to make Messages the new hub of digital communication.

The public program allows non-developers to opt-in to receiving pre-release software builds on their device, and in exchange, Apple expects both patience with bugs and feedback regarding what needs fixing. What started out as the rather straightforward destination for undifferentiated SMS messages has now become host to iMessage, group chat, multi-media communication, and more, and the latest iOS 8.3 beta indicates we’ll soon be able to add more sophisticated filtration options (via 9to5Mac) to that list. The Messages setting is found in the Settings menu, allowing you to optionally split your messages into two columns, with one for known contacts and one for others. The program offers pre-launch builds ahead of their general release on the App Store, but on a more intermittent pace compared to the developer-only seeds, meaning they are likely more generally stable than those releases. Before we get into the nitty gritty of what iOS 8.2 brings to the table, it is important to point out two aspects which could be immediate deal breakers for some: Sadly the most high profile bug in iOS 8 has not been fixed in iOS 8.2.

Apple’s test program for OS X was designed as a way to help the company get feedback and usage testing from a group of users who more closely resembled the broad spectrum of average consumers who would make up the bulk of the eventual end-user group. There’s also a new feature exclusive to the messages from unknown sources that lets you report any messages you wish to flag as junk, which presumably helps Apple ensure the more egregious of these never reach your inbox at all. By far the biggest thread on Apple Support Communities, the so-called ‘WiFried’ issue causes phones to drop wireless connections and/or refuse to connect to wireless networks at all. If it doesn’t, check back later. 9to5Mac reported that the program is just starting to roll out, so Apple isn’t inviting everyone who visits the page immediately.

It should also help Apple cut down on the grey market practice of people signing up for developer accounts and then charging people to be added to their device provisioning list for early access to preview software. Once you do see a link to join the iOS beta, you’ll be instructed to back up your device to iTunes (which you should always do before upgrading anyway, beta or not), then you’ll visit the Apple Seed website on that iOS device and download a configuration profile. There are big advantages to keeping users in Messages and out of other channels: it’s a funnel for iMessage, which is one of Apple’s key ‘moats’ in terms of helping to make sure users remain invested in iOS as a platform and Apple as an ecosystem. As such there is little downside or benefit to affected users installing iOS 8.2, but for those still holding off on iOS 8 altogether the fear of the lack of a fix will likely be enough to make them hold off yet again.

Quite simply if you want one you have no choice but to upgrade to iOS 8.2 because the Apple Watch doesn’t work without being paired with a compatible device. On top of UI tweaks, it is now possible to add and visualise workout data from third party apps, turn off motion tracking and switch between metric and imperial measurements. HealthKit Fixes – Apple’s fitness platform didn’t only get upgrades, iOS 8.2 also addresses bugs when refreshing and importing data and adding Medical ID images. The primary problem was making calls over Bluetooth with in-car kits particularly badly hit. iOS 8.2 calls these out specifically: ‘Fixes a Bluetooth calling issue where no audio is heard until the call is answered’.

Maps, Mail, Music – all three core apps get stability upgrades, notably Apple Maps when using the 3D Flyover feature but Apple has not revealed any more specific details. The good news is having taken a few days to inspect the complaints, there is no unifying problem that has raked up a mass of views – other than the WiFried thread getting ever longer and (understandably) grumpier. is already in testing and – as another major point release – its headline feature is predicted to be Apple’s long awaited Beats-based iTunes streaming music service. iOS 8.2 isn’t perfect and it really is about time Apple both addressed WiFried (an issue since iOS 8 launched in September) and reduced the amount of bloatware in iOS rather than adding to it.

Yes some upgrade problems have been reported and those still happy on iOS 7 may see little reason to update, but it should hold no fear for the vast majority.

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