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By Jason Snell for Tom's Guide
Using prerelease software is exciting. It puts you ahead of the curve, giving you access today to what everyone else will be downloading next week or next month. But it can be frustrating, too. After all, if the software was finished, it would already be released. Using beta software means dealing with bugs, slowdowns, and incompatibilities—all in the name of getting to live slightly in the future.
After years of using beta software, one of the lessons I’ve learned is that it’s a mistake to jump to any conclusions about the speed or stability of the final release based on the betas. I want to liken using beta software to going to see a preview of a Broadway musical, in that things will be tweaked and altered before the wider public sees the show. But it’s probably more accurate to say that it’s like working in a building that’s still under construction. There are great new views and lots of space, but sometimes the elevator may stop working and the water in the kitchen might be a little brown.
It’s worth keeping all of this in mind when we see reports of weird things going on with beta versions of upcoming software releases. I’m struck by the recent reports that Apple pulled a version of its iOS 12 beta due to performance issues, but this has hit me directly, too: for the last few days my beta-running iPad was unable to launch any apps via the search bar, which forced me to hunt through folders to find my apps.