How does iOS 13 measure up to previous iOS betas?

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iOS Days in Beta chart: Will Hains' excellent chart breaks down the iOS betas.
Will Hains' excellent chart breaks down the betas.
Photo: Will Hains

We’re up to the eighth beta of iOS 13, but that’s not nearly the record for iOS betas. That honor goes to iOS 11. It might seem like we’ve had a lot of betas this time around, but two years ago, Apple seeded 13 betas before hitting the Gold Master stage.

With just a few weeks left until the expected iPhone 11 launch, it seems unlikely that record will fall. In terms of sheer number of betas, iOS 13 is not even close. But what about total time spent in beta? Or the fewest betas? Let’s look at the chart.

iOS Days in Beta chart

To illustrate the progress of all iOS betas, we’ll use Will Hains’ amazing iOS Days in Beta chart, a picture of which you see above. An Australian programmer, Hains created this always up-to-date chart using figures taken from Wikipedia and various news sites.

As you can see, iOS 13 is middling in almost every way. If it launches on (predicted) schedule, it will have spent around 3.5 months in beta. That’s pretty average. But like iOS 11, iOS 13’s beta pace is picking up as the launch grows near. iOS 11’s developer beta 8 was only around for three days, and then beta 9 only lasted six days.

The long and short of it

How many days did each final iOS version last before being replaced?
How many days did each final iOS version last before being replaced?
Photo: Will Hains

The shortest beta period was iOS 4, with just four betas. iOS 8 and iOS 9 had just five each. And as Cult of Mac‘s own Ian Fuchs pointed out in our Slack chat, “Those were also some of the least-stable GM releases in the fall.”

In my experience, iOS 13 is still buggy as hell (although Cult of Mac’s Ed Hardy says iPadOS 13 is “finally stable enough for almost anyone“).

Apple has a habit of fixing up features, then pulling them from the beta, and then bringing them back in a completely polished form in the final release.

At this stage, iOS 13 is really no worse than any other beta. Apart from iOS 12, that is, which was almost absurdly reliable from the second beta. Even the first one was pretty good!