Let’s talk about betas. Specifically, let’s talk about Apple’s operating system betas. It used to be that you had to be an active member of the Apple Developer Program to get access to the betas. Last year, Apple launched a beta software program that enables anyone to sign up to test-drive pre-release versions of OS X. This year, for the first time, anyone can sign up to evaluate iOS 9 beta in addition to OS X 10.11 El Capitan beta.
There’s something thrilling about using beta software. It’s exciting to experience the software development process, with frequent updates that fix and improve things before our very eyes. It’s gratifying to participate in that process, seeing our bug reports get resolved and change requests considered and sometimes implemented. I don’t know about you, but I love feeling like I’ve helped make an improvement from which everyone using the software will benefit.
Hark, the cheers from developers far and wide
One of the most difficult things for software developers is getting the feedback they need before an application version goes public. This is because the pool of beta testers is generally so small. We could think everything is just fine, and then it gets out there and—BOOM—suddenly there are all these edge cases that never came up during the beta, because there are so many more people using it.
Public betas can be a real boon to developers, in that they help to increase the size of the beta pool and the degree to which the beta application is tested.
Hard hats required
Perhaps you remember those “Under construction” images from the early days of web publishing? It’s a very real metaphor for beta software. The most important thing to remember1 is that beta software is incomplete. Some things will not be implemented yet, some will be broken, and some may cause unexpected system kerfufflery.
Here are a few tips to help make your beta experience safe and enjoyable:
Spare a square
Ideally, beta software should be installed on spare hardware. If you have only one Mac, you can install El Capitan beta on separate partition of your Mac’s hard drive. If the iPhone you use every day is your only iOS device, it’s probably best not to install iOS 9 beta. If you have a non-critical iPad or an iPod touch, that would be a good place to install the beta.
Back that thang up
I know some of you are going to ignore me completely and install the betas on your mission-critical devices. Before you do that, please make sure to create a reliable backup!
We hear you
Your feedback is indispensable. If you notice anything wonky, be sure to report it to developers. I’ve seen beta issues reported in App Store reviews. While developers certainly read those and learn from them, they have no way of reaching out to the customer to help. It is best to contact developers directly with your beta feedback.
If you’re using 1Password beta, we have dedicated beta discussion forums. The beta forums are monitored by our developers and our support team is around to help you seven days a week!
If something you report isn’t immediately addressed, don’t worry. Developers may not be able to do anything about it just yet. Rest assured that the issue will be resolved as quickly as possible.
1Password 5, El Capitan, and iOS 9
I’m happy to tell you that we have thus far encountered no major issues in our testing. I have noticed a couple of graphical and layout issues in El Capitan beta, but it’s too early to tell whether the issues are in 1Password 5 for Mac or in El Capitan beta. We don’t want to spend time fixing something that may not actually be broken on our end, so for the moment we’re waiting to see how things pan out. We’ve documented the issues so we don’t lose track of them.
How to test 1Password beta for Mac
You are warmly invited to join our family of beta testers. The more, the merrier! 1Password 5.4 beta for Mac doesn’t require El Capitan beta, but it does require that you use the AgileBits Store version of 1Password, not the Mac App Store version. It’s very easy to switch over, but you will not be able to sync with iCloud.
- If you’re using the Mac App Store version of 1Password 5, switch to the AgileBits Store version.
- Back up your 1Password data!
- Install 1Password 5.4 beta for Mac
- Install 1Password browser extension beta
- Sign up for our beta newsletter
- Follow @1PasswordBeta on Twitter
- Post your feedback in our discussion forums
How to test 1Password beta for iOS
Apple’s TestFlight Beta Testing program enables developers to extend a limited number of invitations to customers. There has been a great deal of interest in 1Password beta for iOS, and we are not looking for additional testers at this time. You can be the first to hear about opportunities to join our beta family for iOS by following @1PasswordBeta on Twitter.
1Password beta for Mac does not require 1Password beta for iOS.
I lied earlier. The most important thing is to have fun, but keeping in mind the foibles of beta software and protecting yourself against them are a close second. =)