Apple opens OS X betas to consumers with Beta Seed Program

Posted:
in macOS edited April 2014
In a substantial change to its operating policies, Apple has opened its OS X beta testing process to all Mac users with a newly minted Beta Seed Program.


Feedback Assistant first seen in a previous OS X 10.9.3 Mavericks build.


The Beta Seed Program allows consumers to join Mac developers in test-driving pre-release versions of the Mac operating system in exchange for "quality and usability feedback. The program was first spotted by The Loop.

After signing up, users can install the latest beta version of Apple's upcoming OS X 10.9.3 Mavericks maintenance update on their Macs. The most recent beta -- build 13D45a -- was released on Monday.

It appears Apple has been quietly working to implement the new open beta policy for at least a couple of months via a "Feedback Assistant" that turned up in build 13D38 OS X 10.9.3 earlier this month. At the time, the standalone app's purpose was unknown, though it is now believed to be part of the Beta Seed Program.

From Apple's Beta Seed Program webpage:
Join the OS X Beta Seed Program and accept the Beta Seed and Confidentiality Agreement. Apple will provide a Beta Access Utility for your Mac, which gives you access to pre-release versions of OS X in the Mac App Store Updates panel.
As with any beta or pre-release software, the latest OS X Mavericks is not yet finished and may have unknown bugs or decreased functionality. Users should take this into consideration before installing the beta on a vital machine.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    I received that app on my Mac with a previous beta a week or two ago.
  • Reply 2 of 29
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Interesting that they're doing this with a rumored OSX redesign coming this year. My guess is after the redesign the left side of the image below will have a design language similar to the right side.

    9031-488-140422-Feedback-l.png

    Now if only Apple could find time to update the dark gray nav bar on apple.com. It really looks out of place with the new design language they're using on their website.
  • Reply 3 of 29
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,704member
    If you are a casual user it's probably not the best idea to install Beta software either. Of course AI has a lot of iPhone users who would not be described as "casual". :D
  • Reply 4 of 29
    command_fcommand_f Posts: 250member

    I'm not convinced that this is a good idea. How many people know what 'Beta' really means, or understand that 'Beta test' means it's not even supposed to be free of bugs and loose ends (let alone actually not have many).

     

    MS has tried this with Windows Phone 8.1 and apparently the forthcoming update has been widely condemned for having bugs and omissions - many people there having forgotten that it's not finished yet. I think the idea that you have to be a "developer" to have the Betas (though anyone can actually be a developer) is a sound warning that Betas are not for normal users or use.

  • Reply 5 of 29

    Thank You Apple for your open mind it now is a better way to give feedback about any issue ;)

  • Reply 6 of 29
    inoseyinosey Posts: 89member
    Hope they do this for iOS also. I'd like to try iOS 8 when it comes out for beta testing
  • Reply 7 of 29
    Yes hope too :) i guess the next step will be with iOS :)
  • Reply 8 of 29

    I see the positive in that this allows more people to use the software and find problems.  Google has been doing this forever. Heck, sometimes they never get things OUT of beta, and people accept it for the crap that it is.

     

    However, there is a risk, if there are problems, in that people will find problems and scream and complain as though it's a finished released product.  My guess is that the beta versions being released are going to be far enough in development when they are released to this program, that few if any changes will occur before a final release.  

  • Reply 9 of 29
    irelandireland Posts: 17,208member
    Can I use your bugs, please?
  • Reply 10 of 29
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    command_f wrote: »
    I'm not convinced that this is a good idea. How many people know what 'Beta' really means, or understand that 'Beta test' means it's not even supposed to be free of bugs and loose ends (let alone actually not have many).

    MS has tried this with Windows Phone 8.1 and apparently the forthcoming update has been widely condemned for having bugs and omissions - many people there having forgotten that it's not finished yet. I think the idea that you have to be a "developer" to have the Betas (though anyone can actually be a developer) is a sound warning that Betas are not for normal users or use.
    On Twitter Rene Ritchie tweeted that this doesn't necessarily mean non-devs will get access to major releases. My guess is Apple wants to control leaked UI screen shots as much as possible. Even though some leak now it would be 10x that much if non-devs had access. But I share your concern. The average non-techie isn't going to understand what beta means. We saw this with iOS 7 where lots of non-developers were running it on their phones. I remember the MacRumor forums being full of indignant non-developed aghast that anyone would question why they're running beta software. Even though they knew betas are for developers and developers are under NDA's. I hope Apple never rolls this out to iOS.
  • Reply 11 of 29
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Command_F View Post

     

    I'm not convinced that this is a good idea. How many people know what 'Beta' really means, or understand that 'Beta test' means it's not even supposed to be free of bugs and loose ends (let alone actually not have many).


    How many people are going to stumble upon it not already knowing what is? The only people who install are people who will want to.

  • Reply 12 of 29
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by iNosey View Post



    Hope they do this for iOS also. I'd like to try iOS 8 when it comes out for beta testing

     

     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Markboard View Post



    Yes hope too image i guess the next step will be with iOS image

    Very, very unlikely. They don't want to miss out on their $99 from people who buy just for beta access and never develop an App.

  • Reply 13 of 29
    cyniccynic Posts: 124member

    I'm not sure why Apple is doing this and time will have to tell whether this will be applied to all upcoming beta versions (including minor OS updates) or chosen ones.

     

    Either way, I don't think there will actually be much viable feedback you get from consumers, if at all. Since (more or less costly) ADC membership doesn't exist anymore, most technically interested people including journalists can sign up for a developer account and do so. Everybody else doesn't really care.

     

    I highly doubt there is much value in receiving the same old and obvious bug ten thousand times more by people who actually don't care to reproduce it properly and don't know how to write bug reports.

     

    So yea, what I am saying is there must be some other reason for this. Some other companies have already said, that such "open beta" policies yield little results.

     

    I do hope this policy will not apply to major OS versions, such as iOS 8 and OS 10.10. There are enough people downloading the beta illegally every year and then keep on screwing up app ratings because of incompatibility with a system that just went into beta. This is really a huge problem for developers. Actually, I don't really get why Apple doesn't disable rating and reviewing from beta software.

  • Reply 14 of 29
    If that's true, i agreed with you from this view but ain't paying any$ for Apple :)

    Let me say this is a good initiative as an openness from Apple since its seeing much traffic from betas builds maybe to simply give 'em a luck to feedback :)

  • Reply 15 of 29
    emoelleremoeller Posts: 360member

    While I totally agree that some non-developers are gong to get confused, I think in certain cases this could be great. 

     

    I am afflicted on my iMac with a screen freezing issue (curser moves, but everything else is just frozen).  The only solution is a cold, hard power button reboot.  I'm not the only one with this problem ( https://discussions.apple.com/message/25113192#25113192 ).  Being able to test a Beta to see if it would solve an issue like this would be very helpful.  

     

    With that in mind, I hope that Apple has included a specific feedback forum for non-devs to explain why they are Beta testing (in my case to solve an ongoing problem) as well as what the outcome was.

  • Reply 16 of 29
    onicononicon Posts: 6member
    Or just execute the following command in Terminal.app:
    sudo /usr/sbin/softwareupdate --set-catalog "https://swscan.apple.com/content/catalogs/others/index-10.9publicseed-10.9-mountainlion-lion-snowleopard-leopard.merged-1.sucatalog.gz"
  • Reply 17 of 29
    elrothelroth Posts: 1,201member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by cynic View Post

     

    I'm not sure why Apple is doing this and time will have to tell whether this will be applied to all upcoming beta versions (including minor OS updates) or chosen ones.

     

    Either way, I don't think there will actually be much viable feedback you get from consumers, if at all. Since (more or less costly) ADC membership doesn't exist anymore, most technically interested people including journalists can sign up for a developer account and do so. Everybody else doesn't really care.

     

    I highly doubt there is much value in receiving the same old and obvious bug ten thousand times more by people who actually don't care to reproduce it properly and don't know how to write bug reports.

     

    So yea, what I am saying is there must be some other reason for this. Some other companies have already said, that such "open beta" policies yield little results.

     

    I do hope this policy will not apply to major OS versions, such as iOS 8 and OS 10.10. There are enough people downloading the beta illegally every year and then keep on screwing up app ratings because of incompatibility with a system that just went into beta. This is really a huge problem for developers. Actually, I don't really get why Apple doesn't disable rating and reviewing from beta software.


    I hope it does apply to major OS versions - maybe then Apple would get some non-techie feeback about usability issues. (notice that the program asks for feedback on "quality and usability issues"). 

     

    A major problem with Apple software now is that it seems the people who design it never use it - remember the "Save As..." annoyance, when Apple changed it out of the blue? It still isn't as useful to a lot of us as it used to be. Preview's cropping tool isn't as good as it was under Tiger - when you undid a crop, it left the old crop marks there, so you could adjust it a pixel or two if you wanted. Now when you uncrop you have to start over (at least in Snow Leopard). There are dozens of usability issues that techies will never find, but those of us who actually use the software could comment on before it's finalized. I wish they'd extend the program to other software, like iTunes, iMovie, Final Cut X, etc. - maybe they would avoid some of the problems they've had. I know that's too much to ask, though.

     

    I'm really hoping Jony Ive makes a major push toward usability. Apple engineers seem to want to change useful things just because they can (and in the process they've made many things less useful, and they've taken away choices). There should be more choices, more flexibility.

  • Reply 18 of 29
    cyniccynic Posts: 124member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by elroth View Post

     

    I hope it does apply to major OS versions - maybe then Apple would get some non-techie feeback about usability issues. (notice that the program asks for feedback on "quality and usability issues"). 

     

    A major problem with Apple software now is that it seems the people who design it never use it - remember the "Save As..." annoyance, when Apple changed it out of the blue? It still isn't as useful to a lot of us as it used to be. Preview's cropping tool isn't as good as it was under Tiger - when you undid a crop, it left the old crop marks there, so you could adjust it a pixel or two if you wanted. Now when you uncrop you have to start over (at least in Snow Leopard). There are dozens of usability issues that techies will never find, but those of us who actually use the software could comment on before it's finalized. I wish they'd extend the program to other software, like iTunes, iMovie, Final Cut X, etc. - maybe they would avoid some of the problems they've had. I know that's too much to ask, though.

     

    I'm really hoping Jony Ive makes a major push toward usability. Apple engineers seem to want to change useful things just because they can (and in the process they've made many things less useful, and they've taken away choices). There should be more choices, more flexibility.


     

    Well, I do certainly agree with you regarding those usability issues as of late. I do hope for some middle ground for at least 10.10, as well.

     

    However, do you really believe there is anything a consumer would give feedback on, developer's don't? I think that's a flawed thought, especially obvious things, such a design quirks and usability issues get reported over and over again. I'm not really seeing the benefit here, all this means is having to filter through much more duplicate reports.

  • Reply 19 of 29
    darklitedarklite Posts: 229member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by cynic View Post

     

     

    Well, I do certainly agree with you regarding those usability issues as of late. I do hope for some middle ground for at least 10.10, as well.

     

    However, do you really believe there is anything a consumer would give feedback on, developer's don't? I think that's a flawed thought, especially obvious things, such a design quirks and usability issues get reported over and over again. I'm not really seeing the benefit here, all this means is having to filter through much more duplicate reports.


    I think large-scale testing like this will make crash bugs or other serious issues much easier to detect and isolate. Potentially, a program like this could also be used to do large-scale testing programs - they could distribute slightly different versions to different segments of the user base, and see which ones work out best.

  • Reply 20 of 29
    snovasnova Posts: 1,281member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by pmz View Post

     
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iNosey View Post



    Hope they do this for iOS also. I'd like to try iOS 8 when it comes out for beta testing

     

     

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Markboard View Post



    Yes hope too image i guess the next step will be with iOS image

    Very, very unlikely. They don't want to miss out on their $99 from people who buy just for beta access and never develop an App.


    yeah.. I am sure Apple cares about the billions of dollars they will lose from non-developers that spent $99 just for that purpose. /s

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