You may’ve heard that Apple announced a few things today at little venue in San Francisco. iOS 9, the newest version of the company’s software for iPhones and iPads, was one of those, as was watchOS 2 for the Apple Watch. Both represent sizable leaps forward for their respective platforms, but they aren’t quite ready for public consumption yet. Still, that’s not stopping Apple from launching a beta program for each.
The iOS 9 beta is the more imminent, formalized, and public of the two. Apple has launched a dedicated website for joining, and the process couldn’t be simpler. Simply sign in with your Apple ID and password, agree to the terms of the test, and wait for download instructions via e-mail.
The WatchOS beta is a little more obtuse. Apple is launching a preview, today, but is restricting downloads to “members of the development community,” which implies you’ll need to be a registered and paying member of Apple’s developer program. The company says a public watchOS 2 release will land “this fall.”
Updates to both will be distributed over the air and through the iOS Dev Center.
Apple’s goal with the betas appears twofold: cut down on illicit sharing of pre-release software, and tap a bigger pool of users. Historically, new iOS releases have historically been plagued by leaks of buggy builds and even given rise to an entire grey market of Apple Developer ID credentials.
Apple is also looking to cast as wide a net as possible to fine-tune upcoming iOS features. Two in particular, Proactive and Transit, make heavy use of information like e-mails, calendar entries, and location data, scenarios around which are likely difficult to simulate without a wide pool of data from which to draw.
Apple’s not the only company turning to the crowd for wisdom. Microsoft made publicly available its next major release of Windows, Windows 10, late last year. It’s solicited feedback throughout the program, some of which the company says has shaped aspects of the final product’s user experience.
Of iOS 9 and watchOS, the former is easiest to obtain — sign up at beta.apple.com. As a reminder, it supports the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5, iPhone 4s, iPad Air 1 and 2, iPad mini 1-3, third- and fourth-generation iPad, and fifth-generation iPod touch.