Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode #183

Apple public betas of macOS Sierra and iOS 10 came out last week. If you’re not totally clear on what it means to install a beta operating system on your Mac or iOS devices, here’s what you need to know:

That’s why they call it beta testing

First, they call it “beta testing” for a reason. The beta designation means the software is unfinished, which means you’re likely to find bugs. If you’re nice, you’ll use the included Feedback Assistant app to report said bugs to Apple. If you’re not nice, you’ll just sit there swearing at Apple or your device.

Furthermore, it’s entirely possible some of your third-party applications and utilities will not work with the beta. And you’ll probably have more system and application crashes than you’re used to. Finally, it’s never as easy to uninstall a beta OS as it was to install it. In fact, here are the instructions for reinstalling a previous version of macOS on your Mac, straight from Apple’s Beta Software Program FAQ:

Yes, you will have to ERASE your drive to reinstall El Capitan (or whatever) to get rid of Apple public betas

Yes, you will have to ERASE your drive to reinstall El Capitan (or whatever).

It’s the same for iOS devices—except after you erase you restore from your iTunes backup rather than Time Machine. 

Yes, you'll have to ERASE your device to go back to iOS 9 (or whatever) after installing Apple public betas

Yes, you’ll have to ERASE your device to go back to iOS 9 (or whatever).

The Apple FAQ also says:

Apple public beta warning

Always install a beta OS on a device you can afford to be without long enough to erase and restore it.

I’d go a step further and say you’re nuts if you install beta software on any device you might need to actually use. For Mac users that means installing it on another Mac, or at the very least, on an external hard or solid-state drive or secondary partition on your boot drive.

If you want to beta test iOS 10, you should only install it on an iOS device you can live without long enough to erase and restore it if things go wonky.

The bottom line is that if you’re unhappy with the beta, you’ll need to ERASE the device to return to the shipping version.

Don’t use Apple public betas in public!

And you definitely don’t want to install an Apple Public beta` on any iPhone you actually use. For one thing, you’re not allowed to use the beta software in public.

Apple public beta doesn't mean you can use it in public

“Public Beta” does NOT mean you can use the beta in public.

So bear that in mind if you decide to install it on your everyday Mac or iDevice. But trust me, you don’t want to do that. And if you do—trust me again—you’ll be sorry. Every year I hear from readers who didn’t realize what a hassle it is to uninstall the Apple public betas and get back to work. Don’t be that person this year.

One last thing: I believe in eating my own dog food. That’s why I’m running the Sierra beta on a spare Mac(Book Air). And, since I didn’t have a spare iPhone laying around, I bought a refurbished 32GB iPhone 5C (unlocked) at Amazon.com for $160. Interestingly, that was a week ago, but when I checked it again today, the price had risen to $193.44. Even so, it’s still one of the cheapest iPhones (if not the cheapest) that can run the iOS 10 beta.

So here’s the bottom line—my advice gleaned from years of beta testing Apple’s OSes… Don’t install a beta OS on a device you depend upon. The end.

And that’s all he wrote…

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