iOS 7 beta, NDAs and warranties

Another year, another new version of iOS is released. iOS 7 sure is different and it was announced that the first beta builds would be available the same day. This tends to cause many non-developers to pony up $99 for what they believe is “early access” to Apple’s latest mobile OS.

It isn’t.

Beta releases help both Apple and developers work to make not only iOS better but to ensure that developers are able to ensure their apps will work perfectly with iOS 7 by the time it’s released to the general public.

Unfortunately, it seems every year there’s a growing number of people who install iOS 7 yet forget that it’s pre-release software and also to be protected under an NDA. The number of active developers who post anything about iOS beta releases is almost zero, the tweets and blog posts we see are usually always from non-developers.

Since the beta releases are aimed solely at developers, there’s a few things that developers would be fine with that you’re not.

It’s BETA. iOS beta releases are just that, they’re beta. They’re going to be buggy, potentially unreliable and certainly not to be used on your daily device. In fact, they should really only be used on a development device if you rely upon your iPhone day to day. Every year, discussion forums and blogs get filled with people complaining how buggy the new version of iOS is, yet these people have been running pre-release software.

Update or (watch your iPhone) Die. Apple releases several builds of iOS beta throughout their testing cycle and usually you’ll need to restore the device every time it happens. Furthermore, beta builds expire and unless you’re keeping them up to date, your iPhone will enter a special recovery mode where it will stay until you restore it with a newer beta build.

No warranty with iOS beta. Your warranty isn’t void but if you’re running iOS beta then the Genius Bar will refuse to help you. You will have to go through the developer support in order to have any issues resolved since there’s a possibility that the iOS beta release is causing the problem.

You agreed to an NDA. If you’re not a developer but feel you must install iOS 7 beta on your iOS device, remember that you agreed to an NDA the moment you started installing it. You are not allowed to blog or discuss undisclosed features or APIs. If it’s not on, it’s meant to stay that way for the time being. Apple takes NDAs very seriously and you could very easily see yourself booted out of the Developer Center.

Downgrading back to a previous version of iOS used to be a very tricky process but it’s not as bad as it sounds and it is possible.

As a non-developer, I’d love to get my hands on iOS 7, but I know it’s not finished. I have never registered as an iOS developer since I don’t develop iOS apps and both my iPhone and iPad are too important to me to install potentially problematic software. I’m perfectly happy to wait for a more polished experience to arrive rather than tarnish my opinion on it by using pre-release software.