There was a time when beta software was meant only for developers. That doesn't mean non-developers couldn't get their hands on the pre-release software if they really wanted to, but companies like Google, Apple, and the other big names weren't really interested in what those folks had to say. Developers were the folks building the apps that would help keep those mobile operating systems popular.
An added bonus if the developers discovered issues with the platform as a whole and actually provided feedback.
But over the last few years that mentality has changed quite a bit. Public betas are available for all sorts of software. Not just iOS or Android, but also plenty of apps that get pre-release versions that allow a small number of users to try it out and provide essential feedback just in case things aren't as perfect as the company might want.
Beta software still has its ups and downs, though. This is software that has potholes along the way to its next update, and some of those can be pretty big and debilitating. The fact that these companies offer a public beta doesn't necessarily mean that any person using a smartphone should try it out.
Companies put the necessary disclaimers out there, of course. It's not like they're trying to bait people into putting potentially less-than-stable software on their devices. But it's obviously pretty important to these entities now that, when they do get around to launching the public release of their next major mobile OS (or apps), it's smoothed out any of those potential potholes.
Because issues with beta software aren't nearly as devastating as major problems with the public release.
That's probably one of the many reasons why these companies and developers have embraced the public beta. I know that back when I was trying out betas, both developer and public, I would make a note to supply feedback at least once a week. That meant a lot of repetition with the bugs I'd discover in daily use, and there were some beta releases that made me stop and go back to the latest public release instead. But if companies are trying to get feedback, I figured it couldn't hurt to provide it.
Now that Android Q's beta is out there in the world, and we've got the next major version of iOS coming right around the corner (with iOS 12.4 in between), I'm curious: do you try out beta software on your personal device? Whether it's the developer build, or one released as a public beta, do you run the pre-release software on your only smartphone? If so, how has your experience been for the most part? Let me know!