Running Beta Software Often Comes With Pain [Updated]

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Running and testing beta hardware and software is second nature for me at this point. I do it for this site now, as I have regularly since iOS 5. I actually do it quite often at work. My background is in programming and systems integration, so I used to test my own programs, as well as things developed by others. I still do from time to time I do a lot of beta hardware testing at work these days, which is a different kind of challenge. All this to say that, whether at work or on my own time, I know full well that anything with a beta tag can bite you in various ways.

I got an unexpected reminder of this tonight when I got home from work. I sat down with my iPad Pro to start working on an article (on something else) after dinner. I had my usual setup with the WordPress app on the left an Safari on the right. The WordPress app was acting up and not uploading a picture properly, which isn’t a big surprise when running a beta OS. No big deal.

After an app crash and another unsuccessful attempt, I decided to just drag the image over from Safari. It looked like it was working, but then all hell broke loose. The image stopped moving, the screen stuttered and Safari ended up moving from the side-by-side position to Slide Over on the other side of the screen. I was able to move Safari from left to right, but no further. It froze right there.

And so did a lot of other things. While WordPress and Safari are still somewhat usable and Notifications and Control Center are accessible, I can’t move the Slide Over window. I can’t swipe up to bring up the Dock. I can’t swipe up to bring up my open apps. I can’t open another app via Siri or a Notification. I can’t get these apps off of my screen. Oh, and I can’t do a soft reset using the Power Button and one of the Volume Buttons either.

I am completely and totally stuck.

So what now? There’s not much to do besides jack the screen brightness up, keep the iPad Pro awake and let the diminished battery life of the beta do its thing. I may do a Google search in a bit to look for alternative solutions, but I don’t see any other obvious options. If I do come across something, I will be sure to come back and post the solution here in case someone else hits a similar bump in the beta road.

[Update: I was reminded of the difference between a normal power off and an actual soft reboot thanks to this article at OSXDaily. While the normal Power Off method of pressing a Volume Button and Power Button didn’t work, the Soft Reset method DID. To do this, press and release the Volume Up button, press and release the Volume Down button and then hold the Power Button until a reboot occurs. After the reboot, the WordPress app works and the Safari Slide Over moves on and off the screen just like it should.]

If you think I am whining here, I assure you I’m not. What you read above is just a blow-by-blow account of how my iPad ended up in the ditch. While I haven’t been bitten this hard by a beta in a while, I understand that this is what you sign up for when you install unfinished software. In fact, despite the inconvenience of having my favorite iPad temporarily semi-bricked, this has actually been kind of a fun and interesting challenge. I still have my work laptop, which I am typing on right now, so a locked up tablet isn’t the end of the world for me.

A few days ago, I gave a little warning to anyone thinking about casually loading up the brand new iOS 13 or iPadOS 13 Public Beta. It may be more stable than the initial Developer Beta, but as my experience this evening illustrates, there are still plenty of issues to watch out for. If losing your iPhone or iPad would be the proverbial end of the world for you, then you should definitely wait a week or two at minimum before loading up an iOS 13 or iPadOS 13 Public Beta. You never know when it will jump up and bite you.

James Rogers

I am a Christian husband and father of 3 living in the Southeastern US. I have worked as a programmer and project manager in the Commercial and Industrial Automation industry for over 19 years, so I am hands on with technology almost every day. However, my passion in technology is for mobile devices, specifically Apple's iOS and iPadOS hardware and software. My favorite is still the iPad.

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