With Apple’s iOS 6 beta 3 dropping recently, I’m reminded again of the frenzy that often surrounds betas. Apple has a lot of fans, but too many confuse these beta releases with “getting in early,” as though they’d found a backdoor to getting the full release before the rest of the public. A quick look in any online forum about the releases will turn up dozens of users complaining about this or that broken/not implemented/buggy feature—and while the point of the beta is exactly to turn up these sorts of quirks and oversights, few of the people complaining will bother to report their issues to Apple.
That’s because they’re not really using the beta as it was meant to be used—they aren’t developers working to help build a more stable release for the rest of us, they’re just fans eager to get a taste of the pre-release hype, along with the bragging rights of having an install unavailable to most.
It’s a problem that’s even worse in the jailbreak community, where even publicly released tweaks can have compatibility issues, so I was glad to see well-known developer David Ashman (creator of Lockinfo) speaking out in a series of tweets about his frustration with people who blindly jump on the beta bandwagon. In addition to the tweet captured in the screenshot above, he reminded users that the whole reason for a beta is to work out bugs, but that for it to work, beta users need to provide useful feedback, something many neglect (or don’t know) to do:
It might seem harsh—it’s likely that many beta users are just avid hobbyists who read about Ashman’s beta repo somewhere and added it to Cydia without giving it much thought—but when you consider the amount of support email and tweets he’s forced to wade through to find those bits and pieces of genuinely useful information, it quickly becomes obvious that the free-for-all of many betas isn’t doing anyone any favors. As it is now, public betas may even be slowing down development of some tweaks.
Now, I love betas, and I’m not going to suggest that people not install them if they’re interested in what’s coming along. But know what you’re getting into, and know what’s expected from you as a beta user. In the best of worlds, you help make your favorite apps better by sharing your experience with the developer—but if you can’t or won’t do that, don’t bother complaining when something doesn’t work they way you think it should. For that privilege, wait for an official release.