Those Shiny Apple Beta OSes: 2018 Edition 

2 minute read
| Dr. Mac's Rants & Raves

Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode #281

Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference started Monday, and, as expected, Apple divulged details of its next-generation operating systems—macOS, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS. It’s always interesting and entertaining, but that’s not what’s important.

What IS important is that you clearly understand the meaning of the phrase “public beta” before you even think about installing the shiny new pre-release software you just heard about on any of your Apple devices.

At some point, probably soon, Apple will offer “public beta” releases of this year’s crop of operating systems, making them available to anyone who cares to try them.

And, while that’s good news for us (“us” being the geek community), it’s potentially horrible news for many of you.

Beta = Buggy

Let me be totally clear: Beta software has bugs. They are synonymous—the main reason beta versions exist is to test for bugs.

Install a beta operating system and this (or worse) is the fate that will befall you!

Install a beta operating system and this (or worse) is the fate you’ll face!

My advice is to never install a beta OS on any device you intend to use.

Put another way, you should only install a beta release on a spare device, a device you can live without for a while when things go awry.

Before You Install a Beta OS

If you’re thinking about installing a beta OS, here are a few things you should consider before you pull the trigger:

  • The operating system (OS) is the heart and brain of your device. If it goes wonky, the device may cease to function.
  • Regressing to a non-beta release almost always requires completely erasing the device.
  • If you’re going to restore the device from a backup, be certain your backup is current and tested for restorability.
  • Erasing and restoring the device to a pre-beta state can take several hours or more.

Still considering installing a beta OS on your favorite device? Here are a few more inconveniences you’re likely to encounter:

  • Your favorite programs may not run properly (or at all) under the beta OS.
  • Your device may become slower and less responsive.
  • Your device may crash more than usual.
  • Built-in apps you rely upon may not work as expected (or at all).
  • Services such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, networking, file sharing, printer sharing, and others may not work as expected (or at all).

I hate to be a curmudgeon, but every time Apple unleashes a new round of public betas, I hear from far too many users who didn’t know what they were getting into when they installed a beta OS. So here’s my advice:

  • NEVER install a beta OS unless you think everything I said above sounds like a “teachable moment” or a “learning experience.”
  • NEVER install a beta OS unless you’re prepared to erase and restore the device multiple times.
  • NEVER install a beta OS on a device you use and depend upon.

Do as I say and you’ll avoid a boatload of misery; ignore my advice at your own peril.

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