Users Don't Understand Beta Software, Angry That Apps Don't Work

Originally, beta versions of iOS and Mac OS were only available to developers. This gave developers early access to new features and allowed them to test existing apps for compatibility. As a developer, this was a great opportunity as many apps can break when a new version of iOS is released. Apple also gets expert feedback from developers and I've submitted formal bug reports to Apple when needed. Now, however, Apple is putting the beta version of iOS and Mac OS in the hands of the public and this is causing issues for some developers.

It's understandable that apps might not work correctly, or at all, with a beta version of the operating system. It could be one line of code that needs to be changed or it could be that the OS is to blame. That's why it's called beta. But a number of users with access to the Public Beta are treating it as "Early Access" and criticizing apps that don't work with the beta

reviews

It's not fair to a developer if a user writes a one-star review when an app crashes because the user downloaded a beta version of iOS. This is happening too often, with good, quality apps. Developers might already have a fix, but Apple takes a week or more to approve updates. Or the problem could be with the beta iOS and not the developer. Either way, that should not drag down the app's ratings. While beta testers need to take responsibility, Apple could do more to help. Apple could:

  1. Disable reviewing any app from a device running a beta. This still wouldn't prevent someone from using iTunes to review an iOS app.
  2. Make it easy for developers and other users to "flag" for removal a review that is based on beta compatibility.
  3. Allow developers to respond to feedback. This is overdue and could help a lot of users who might be having trouble with an app.
  4. Add some verbiage when writing a review, stating "If you are running a beta version of iOS, you should contact the developer first before writing a review based on beta compatibility."
  5. Improve the update process especially for beta compatibility. Apple might want to let such updates be automatically available and still be tested in parallel. They could pull an app after the fact, and if a developer abuses the process, ban the developer.

In the meantime, if you are one of those running a beta version, remember Apple only recently allowed Public Betas and if you want them to continue, use your power wisely! You would be surprised how easy it is to reach out and contact a developer directly to provide valuable feedback.

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Author Details

Todd Bernhard's picture

Author Details

Todd Bernhard

Todd Bernhard is a bestselling (6+ million downloads) award-winning (AARP, About.com, BestAppEver.com, Digital Hollywood, and Verizon) developer and founder of NoTie.NET, an app developer specializing in Talking Ringtone apps including AutoRingtone. And his profile photo is of the last known sighting of Mr. Bernhard wearing a tie, circa 2007!

An iPhone is almost always attached to his hip or in his pocket, but over the years, Mr. Bernhard has owned an Apple Newton, a Motorola Marco, an HP 95LX, a Compaq iPaq, a Palm Treo, and a Nokia e62. In addition to writing for iPhone Life, Mr. Bernhard has written for its sister publications, PocketPC Magazine and The HP Palmtop Paper.