It’s the time of year when many people ask me if I can help them install the new beta version of iOS on their phone. I am usually reluctant to help, and with iOS being more popular than ever, I would like to make clear exactly why you (as a non-developer) should never upgrade your phone to a beta OS.
1. Your apps will break.
iOS 7.0 brings radical changes to both the user interface, and the under-the-hood developer APIs. The developer of your favorite app probably heard about iOS 7.0 the same time you did, if not an hour or two before. They haven’t even had the chance to review these API changes, yet alone fix bugs or crashes that have been caused by them. The changes are so major that it’s unlikely any app will work as well as it did on iOS 6.0.
If you rely or even just enjoy using 3rd party apps, you’re likely to have an extremely bad time on the iOS 7.0 beta.
2. Your phone will crash and bugs will bite.
Aside from 3rd-party apps, Apple apps and iOS 7.0 as a whole are just not yet completely implemented. Multitasking in particular has seen major changes, which come with major bugs that can, and do, cause the entire system to be brought down. Having your phone reboot in your palm for seemingly no reason, when you’re trying to accomplish some task, is no fun.
Further, if you do manage to avoid crashers, you’ll still hit bugs in other core apps like Phone, Messages, or Mail. Crazy things can and do happen: music starts playing during a phone call, an iMessage gets sent to the wrong person (or not sent at all), or none of your email gets displayed.
It’s amazing how a device you love so much can become a device you want to throw through a wall because of a few bad bugs.
3. There’s no going back.
Downgrading iOS is simply unsupported. Although there are hacks out there which make it possible in some situations, certain iPhone internals like the baseband processor (which handles talking to the cell networks) simply cannot be reverted, and may experience bugs when trying to interact with a mismatched OS.
There is no “trial mode” when it comes to beta operating systems.
4. You will lose data.
It’s not uncommon for beta software to include a time bomb, which deactivates the product after a certain amount of time. This is to force the testers to upgrade to newer versions, so that developers don’t need to continue to field bug reports from old, known-broken versions.
If you don’t upgrade to every new beta release vigilantly, you risk hitting one of these time bombs and losing data. Even if you do keep up-to-date, there’s still major risks: Since it’s beta software, your backups could become corrupted, or lost entirely.
You may be lucky and lose little to nothing, but remember that your phone holds important memories. Photos, videos, messages, etc. Is it really worth it to risk these things?
5. No one is going to help you.
No developer is yet ready to support iOS 7.0, for reasons listed above. They may laugh at you if you email them with complaints. Apple is also not yet ready to support iOS 7.0 either, so taking your phone to a genius bar would be just as fruitless, even if the issue isn’t iOS 7.0 related. As a non-developer, you will be ignored or possibly even berated on developer forums.
Because new updates to beta software are released to testers at regular intervals, there’s rarely going to be advice that is better than “file a bug and wait for the next update.”
Installing iOS 7.0 is akin to trading in your reliable BMW for a Ferrari with engine problems. It sounds sexy at first — who could resist a Ferrari? But after missing appointments and not even being able to run a simple errand, soon you’ll realize it isn’t worth the trouble. If you can’t use your product for its intended purpose, what good is it?
Fortunately, there is hope. iOS 7.0 will be released when it’s ready. If history is any indication, you’ll get it for free in just a few months, and you won’t have to deal with most of the issues listed above.
Patience is a virtue.