PSA: Every IT shop should be testing the iOS 12 beta

Many SMBs neglect this because they don’t have a formal mobile strategy in place, but today, mobility is crucial for every company.

The public iOS 12 beta is out, and it reminded me of an important issue: No IT organization would consider running a new version of Windows without extensive testing, but many organizations don’t test new versions of mobile operating systems. It’s 2018, and every business relies heavily on mobility, so clearly they should be testing beta versions of iOS and Android.

Why test iOS and Android beta versions?

Every version of iOS (and Android) has changes that could affect your environment, and mobile OS updates come barrelling into your environment with little control. It’s never been possible to block updates on BYOD devices, unless you enforce some roundabout compliance policies with EMM. And now this is becoming more urgent with the iOS 12 beta, as iOS 12 may end up enabling automatic OS updates.

Companies that have a mature mobility strategy, develop their own apps, or use EMM software are probably testing iOS and Android betas already. (If that’s you, you can skip the rest of this article!) However, many companies still aren’t testing mobile operating systems. Why?

Maybe they didn’t think of it because they don’t have EMM or in-house apps, or never sat down to talk about their mobile strategy. Or they assume that all their app vendors are doing plenty of testing to be ready for the next versions, and they’ll be fine.

This likely applies to many small and mid-size organizations, but SMBs still should be testing mobile betas, too. As I said earlier, it’s 2018, and every company relies on iOS and Android, even if it’s just for email and a few off-the-shelf apps.

Now to be fair, it’s been a while since iOS has had a huge enterprise-impacting bug, like the Exchange bug in iOS 6.1. And maybe an SMB isn’t going to be the first one to discover an issue with these immensely popular platforms.

But at the very least, your help desk is probably spending time helping users set up Wi-Fi, email, and other apps. Even if the iOS 12 beta doesn’t break something in your environment, your help desk will still have to know about the plethora of small changes that will affect support calls.

It just makes sense for any company to do mobile beta testing, even if it’s just the help desk or the email admin. Come September, users will be adopting iOS 12 en masse, so IT needs to be ready.

How to get started

iOS causes the biggest rushes of upgrades, but fortunately it’s easy to get started testing betas. Business can join the Apple Developer Enterprise Program, for $299 per year, or at the very least, someone in IT can enroll an extra iPhone into Apple’s free public beta program.

On the Android side, you’ll want to get a Pixel and join the Android Beta Program, or if you have a lot of Samsung devices, get a Galaxy that qualifies for Samsung’s beta program.

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For iOS users, it's actually much better to join the AppleSeed for IT program, tailored with enterprise specific info and guidance.