Tuesday, 25 June 2019 17:52

First impressions: Apple's public betas for iOS 13 and iPad are awesome, but don't install on primary devices yet

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If you have a spare iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple TV, and are keen to not only test out Apple's new iOS 13, iPadOS, MacOS Catalina and tvOS 13 betas, then go for it, but wait before you install on your primary devices.

Betas. These are versions of software that exist in the Twilight Zone of not quite being ready for prime-time, yet are more than ready for beta testers to rip into, play with and send feedback on.

While there have certainly been people brave enough to try one of the first two developer betas for iOS and iPadOS on primary devices, amongst other Apple devices including Macs, Apple Watch and Apple TV, with plenty of YouTube videos with impressions, being in beta means your mileage will vary.

The first public beta, which arrived on Tuesday, is said to be the same as the second developer beta, which came out about a week ago, so no new bugs are fixed since that dev beta 2, although dev beta 2 did fix bugs in dev beta 1, which was available after WWDC earlier this month.

Now, despite initially waiting, so many online videos and impressions of the new betas meant that I held out for about a week, and then just gave in to the temptation of the developer iOS and iPadOS betas.

I installed iOS dev beta 1 and 2 on my spare iPhone X, which I purchased in late 2017, and then iPadOS dev beta 1 and 2 on an iPad Pro 11-inch that I am reviewing, and the improvements are absolutely excellent.

Yes, there are bugs, performance issues and the like, and as Apple warns, they are absolutely meant for beta testing only, and not for daily usage on primary devices.

That said, I very much look forward to every user of a compatible device - which is the vast majority of users - being able to upgrade, and the September time-frame for the final versions can't come soon enough!

Being able to use a mouse on iPadOS or even the iPhone, as well as impressive full voice control, dark mode, smaller and faster apps, a better file manager, smarter battery charging and so very much more are must-have new features, but they need to go through the public testing process first.

I have really enjoyed trying out the new features, and they clearly made Apple's devices even more powerful and useful than they already are, and they're sure to be wildly popular with end-users.

Sure, some of the features have been requested for a long time, like being able to change Wi-Fi networks from the pull down control centre, or for a dark mode, or being able to install new fonts easily, or use a mouse cursor, or better voice controls, or the long-awaited addition of a native swipe keyboard. Yes, some of these features catch up to the competition, but better late - and more secure, if not also more thoughtfully done - than never!

There's also a new macOS Catalina public beta, and one for your Apple TV, too, being tvOS 13, but I haven't tested either beta on those fronts yet, and will probably wait for the final releases for both of those first, although time will tell there too!

Now, if you do decide to throw caution and fate to the wind, and install the new publicly accessible public beta on your primary devices, then please make an iTunes backup of your device or devices first, just to be on the safe side.

Every few weeks, Apple will release updates to its beta versions, with more bugs squished and more improvements made, right up until mid-September or so, when we'll be very close to the launch of new iPhones and the launch of the Golden Masters, the final test versions of Apple's various operating systems.

Once the new iPads, iPhones and more are released, the final versions of Apple's new operating systems will be launched too, after which even more beta versions will come to squish other post ".0" bugs that inevitably arise.

It's at this point that I personally get off the beta train and then go with the standard updates that are released to the public.

I'm also going to hold off on installing iOS 13 public beta 1 on the iPhone XS Max that I purchased last year until at least another couple of beta updates are out first.

Last year I ran the iOS 12 betas from public beta 1, and while there were some issues as you'd expect, I survived quite happily.

However, despite my positive experiences with the developer betas, I've read some people regretting installing this first iOS and iPadOS public beta on their daily devices in just the last few hours, and because I am already using the beta other devices, I will wait for at least a couple of public beta update versions first before taking the plunge and bouncing to the beta beat on my primary XS Max.

So, unless you're really brave, and have made a backup of your devices first, then let the early adopters deal with all the bugs, and when mid-to-late September rolls around, your time to upgrade will finally be here at last.

Those who can't wait can go to the Apple beta site to download the correct beta profile and can go from there.

Apple has made excellent preview pages for its new operating systems available, and if you haven't yet read them, then they are must-read pages.

You can also see the top features of the various betas not only in Apple's WWDC 2019 keynote (embedded below), which goes for 2 hours and 17 minutes because there's simply SO MUCH new stuff to cover, but also at all manner of YouTube videos online.

Here's where Apple has more on iOS 13, on iPadOS, on MacOS Catalina, on watchOS 6, on tvOS 13 and on the crazily and impressively powerful new Mac Pro models

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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