In an effort to eliminate bugs from upcoming iOS versions ahead of their general releases, Apple plans to launch the first-ever public beta program for the iOS operating system, according to multiple people briefed on the plans. Following the successful launch of the OS X Public Beta program with OS X Yosemite last year, Apple intends to release the upcoming iOS 8.3 as a public beta via the company’s existing AppleSeed program in mid-March, according to the sources. This release will match the third iOS 8.3 beta for developers, which is planned for release the same week. Apple then expects to debut iOS 9 at its June Worldwide Developer Conference, with a public beta release during the summer, and final release in the fall…

iPad Air 2

Ahead of the October 2014 launch of OS X Yosemite, Apple released the new Mac OS as a beta to the first one million people who registered with interest. Apple has said that it will soon provide these users with early looks at OS X updates such as the upcoming 10.10.3 with the new iCloud-based Photos application. In order to maintain a higher level of exclusivity, the public beta program for iOS will apparently be limited to 100,000 people, the sources say. Apple began seeding a select group of retail employees with iOS betas for minor releases in January. In the hands of developers since last year, iOS 8.2 will not enter public beta.

Codenamed Stowe, iOS 8.3 was first seeded to developers in early February with several enhancements. The updated software includes support for Wireless CarPlay, an upgraded Emoji keyboard, an enhanced voice for Siri, and simpler login for Google services. A second 8.3 beta is expected next week. iOS 9, codenamed Monarch, will include fixes and performance enhancements as headline features. Apple is also working on iOS 8.4, codenamed Copper, that bundles Apple’s all new streaming music service. Like the early iOS 8 developers builds, the public betas will include a dedicated app that allows users to report bugs to Apple.

The main goal of the iOS beta program will be a more reliable and widely tested operating system by the time of the wider consumer launch, as Apple has come under fire for lack of quality control in iOS 8. Launching public beta versions of iOS will also reduce the demand for unauthorized sales of beta downloads from developer accounts, which enabled some consumers to test-drive future iOS features. Apple Vice President of iPhone and iOS Marketing Greg Joswiak publicly shared his concern regarding these blackmarket businesses, saying that Apple planned to fight those in the future.

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