Beta software and ghost updates

Apple is about to release iOS 12, probably in two weeks when they have their annual phone (and watch) refresh on 12 September 2018.

I’ve been a registered Apple developer for a long time, paying my $99 every year, and waiting for the second or third beta to put on my phone. It’s true, I am one of those early adopters you hear about.

Yesterday morning at midnight MDT, we saw a message I’ve seen before in this beta cycle: iOS 12 has an update and it should be downloaded. Except this time there wasn’t an update.

I ignored it figuring it had something to do with it being a particular date, but in the late afternoon I was seeing this message every time I unlocked my phone. The Internet demonstrated that this was happening to a lot of people.

There are two ways to look at this:

  • it’s a bug that is laughable given how many betas there have been and Apple should be ashamed, blah blah blah; and
  • it’s beta software, these things happen, and it’s part of #betalife.

Guess which option the tech media went with?

When I checked my phone this morning after an audition, there actually was a beta update. Whether this was the one Apple was warning about, or a fix to the bug, is immaterial. It’s a beta product and they say specifically that it “should only be deployed on devices dedicated for iOS 12 beta software”. In other words, if like me you’re running this on your main device, you’re the twit if something breaks.

iOS 12 beta 12

Problem solved? No, because those gloating, smug, crowing tech media articles from yesterday are doing the rounds on social media today, where they will live forever frozen in time, despite being obsolete and therefore wrong (and wrong-headed). Now the media has created a perception problem that Apple can’t get their shit together.

If anyone hasn’t read a recent thread about how Tesla couldn’t get their shit together, it’s an excellent time for me to point out that no one in tech has a clue what they’re doing and it’s all a flaming pile already. Who cares if it takes 12 betas to get the software ready? Given how down on Apple software quality some of the louder pundits have been recently, they should be welcoming this kind of public testing.

I recently wrote 7,000 words about bias and accuracy on my technical blog. If I can pick a narrative and stick to it, I wish tech media would follow suit. Either Apple testing their software is good, or it’s bad. You can’t have it both ways. As one acquaintance put it, you can’t be half-pregnant.

Finally, before I’m accused of being an Apple fanboy, I must remind those folks that my last book was published by Microsoft Press.

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