Apple will begin providing select retail store employees access to upcoming versions of iOS in order to widen its pre-release testing program, according to multiple sources. The program will begin in the near-future with an upcoming iOS release, perhaps version 8.2, which is slated to be released alongside the Apple Watch

This new program will mark Apple’s first expansion of pre-release iOS version testing beyond developers and employees within the walls of Apple’s Cupertino headquarters. For the past few Mac OS X releases, Apple has provided early copies of the system to employees, which has helped Apple identify bugs before public launches.

It is likely that Apple is expanding its testing program in order to ensure that it receives a wider array of proper feedback during beta periods. Apple has acknowledged that its beta testing pool is filled with a notable percentage of users who solely wish to test out new features, not program their apps or provide critical feedback.

Apple has recently faced criticism with claims that the company’s most recent operating systems do not include the superior fit-and-finish that iOS and OS X have become known for over the past decade. iOS 8’s launch in 2014 was notably substandard due to issues with the new Health app and a botched over-the-air bug fix release.

Hopefully the expansion of internal iOS testing will lead to more reliable releases for the future.

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