I’ve been waiting for Apple to get some of the bigger bugs ironed out before taking the plunge and upgrading my iPhone XS Max and Watch Series 4. I can get away with a little wonkiness on my iPad Pro but my phone and watch are key to me staying on top of my job every day. That makes running the betas a bit more of a risk.
Developer Beta 3 is usually a turning point for Apple and after waiting a few days and watching for feedback, I decided to go ahead and take the plunge yesterday. Before getting started, I did the one thing anyone should before taking this step- I backed up to iTunes. In this instance, an iCloud backup won’t help you much. Once you do a backup running the beta version of iOS, there is no going back. You need to make a manual backup in iTunes and keep it mothballed so you have to something to go back to if things don’t work out running the beta.
The upgrades themselves went smoothly. They do take time, both to download the software and to install it. However, neither install had any issues and both my iPhone and Watch. I was able to kick the tires a little last night before I went to bed and both devices were responsive and stable.
That performance has carried over into today. The devices haven’t run hot or reset. I’ve seen a few app crashes, but that is to be expected. It’s the price you pay to run betas, so no big deal. Best of all, my battery life has been good on both devices today. This is usually where you take the big hit running beta software, but that hasn’t been the case yet. I’ve had my Watch on for over 6 hours and I’m only down to 80%, so that isn’t much worse than normal operation.
As for new features, these upgrades frankly just aren’t as big as iPadOS. However, there are a few new goodies worth the effort. On iPhone, Dark Mode definitely is easier on the eyes.
I love some of the small touches, like the new Share Sheet design, the new features in Notes and Reminders and the ability to select a new WiFi network right from Control Center.
Oh, and the fact that Apple’s Lightning to USB 3 and Lightning to SD Card adapters bring the same external storage support to the iPhone that we got in iPadOS is pretty cool, too. If you want to backup those important photos while you are on vacation without dragging a laptop along and without uploading them all, now you can. Very nice.
As for the Watch, the slightly rounded scroll and larger text in the App Menu is a nice touch that fits the device better than a plain, flat list. It’s also subtle enough that it doesn’t stray off into the realm of skeuomorphism.
Oh, and it looks great on the Watch Series 4’s larger screen. I also appreciate the inclusion of the App Store. I played around with it for a bit today and it was easier to use than I expected. Between Voice Dictation and Scribble, simple searches are simple and straightforward. Anything that moves the Watch closer to full independence is a good thing in my book, so I’m all for it. Add in a few Watch Faces and a ton of new color choices for them, and you have a nice set of new features that round things out.
I’ll keep posting here and on Twitter as I get more familiar with the new features and run into any pitfalls. Until then, I hope my experience with the iOS and watchOS betas continues to be as smooth and easy as it has been today.