It has become evident to me with the last few major product releases from Apple that they are using us a beta testers. If you think about it, it is a rather brilliant move. By shifting the beta testing phase over to the general public you move the product release date and therefore the time to first profits earlier. Apple has a very strong following of "bleeding edge" technology adopters, and these adopts are willing to spend their disposable income on new technology products. So why not use them as beta testers. Not only is Apple not paying us as beta testers, but instead we are in fact both paying Apple for the product and providing them a free service! Below are my reasons for coming to this conclusion:
I love my Apple Watch, but let's be honest...this is still very much a product in development. Even after Watch OS 2 the complications are still quite slow. If a glance can't be display the information you need to quickly see in less than a second then it is no longer a glance, it is now you holding up your arm uncomfortably starring at your watch hoping that any second now that glance will FINALLY load the information you are wanting to see. Glances are a key feature of Apple Watch and I would argue that they still don't work. As if the glacier speed of glance loading wasn't enough there is also the bluetooth connectivity of the Apple Watch. Bluetooth connections are so painful and finicky that I have given up trying to pair my bluetooth headphones to my Apple Watch for running and just use my iPod Nano instead. It isn't just initial connection that is unreliable either. When I'm out on my bike I will drop the connection between my Apple Watch and my headphones on average 4 or 5 times over the course of an hour and my Apple Watch has a direct line of sight to headphones. I don't have these drop outs when using my iPhone tucked into the back of my jersey or with my iPod Nano strapped to my arm. Despite these frustrations, I wouldn't give up my Apple Watch for anything. The one thing for me that it does really well is this...it allows me to totally silence (both sound and vibrations) on my important iPhone notifications go to my watch and all other notifications are silently sent to lock screen notifications. No more phantom iPhone vibrations and missed texts or calls. Totally worth the price of admission for me.
The new Apple TV is another example for Apple releasing a Beta product. First off, the old Apple TV had a companion iOS app that would allow iOS devices to be used as a remote control. This made it super simple to enter in long passwords on your Apple TV. But not with the new Apple TV. As of this writing, there is still no companion iOS app for the new Apple TV. So you have to manually enter in your passwords by scrolling back and forth across the TV screen...excruciating! I can't imagine how Apple could have justified NOT having an app like they had available for the previous Apple TV available at launch unless they were treating the new Apple TV release as a beta release. Then there is Siri. Siri actually works really well on the new Apple TV, except that it has no functionality with Apple Music. Apple is only a few months into it's new music streaming service, yet it's brand new product doesn't work well with that service.
Most people just want tech to "work," a phrase that Apple has used to describe the Mac and iOS devices for many years. I am enjoying both the Apple Watch and Apple TV products, even though I personally believe they are both very much still a work in progress. I like fiddling with technology, but it makes it hard to try and explain these shortfalls to people that DON'T like fiddling with technology. I will continue to buy new Apple products without hesitation, but I am going to be a little more reserved about recommending other people do the same. The average consumer doesn't want to be a beta tester and I certainly don't want to have to help walk my frustrated friends and family through all the steps to troubleshoot these "beta" products.