How Beta Has Become A Meaningless Term In Software

How Beta Has Become A Meaningless Term In Software

Siri, Apple’s voice recognition software, is no longer being described as a beta product. But in an era where software constantly updates online, does it make sense to use the ‘beta’ label anyway?

Picture: Getty Images

9To5Mac points out that Apple’s own page describing Siri no longer talks about it as a beta product. Since it has been around since 2011, that seems reasonable, but few users would claim Siri was a perfect or finished product.

While two years in beta seems a long time, that pales next to the five years Gmail was labelled as a beta product. Either way, it seems meaningless to describe a product as beta when it’s a key selling point for a product people pay cold hard cash for.

Beta testing is supposed to be about ironing out bugs and identifying issues with software, but this is often a continuous process, not one with tightly defined time parameters. Using the ‘beta’ label as an excuse for bugs may be a trend whose time has passed.

Nearly two years after launch, Siri seems to exit ‘beta’ with iOS 7 [via Business Insider]


  • I could be wrong, but I don’t think anyone actually ‘paid’ for Siri. Siri was an iPhone feature that was still in beta. Perhaps she shouldn’t have been touted as a major selling point when still in beta, but I guess that’s how the game is played.

    Interestingly, I’d probably say Android only just got out of beta, but I have no idea how long it’s been officially out of beta for. I assume it’s been years, and right back in Donut days,

    Mind you, that’s from a retrospective view – I’ve only ever owned Android devices, and looking back, I’d say it wasn’t until ICS that Android really got mature, but for its time, it may have been fine.

  • Easy to say that when you’re an end user. Totally different story when you’re a developer. Just because it has been released to the public doesn’t mean it’s ready for prime time. Beta is a disclaimer against using something in a production environment. It keeps the developers safe from “YOUR SOFTWARE CRASHED MY COMPUTER AND I LOST MY COLLECTION OF MY LITTLE PONY GIFS!!” situations.

    Siri was in beta, and should have been labelled as such. Some people would argue it should still be labelled beta, but that’s another argument for another time …

    • Diablo 3 operated exactly how they planned it. You might’ve disagreed with the design, but it definitely didn’t behave as beta software.

      Generally I’d say open betas have to be released primarily to find/fix issues. If your reason for releasing the product is to have people use it in its current state, then you’re out of beta and are in a post release maintenence phase.

      • It did behave like beta software actually. Lots of bugs (BIG ones). The community did find lots of bugs. Then there was Blizzard who said certain things were “bugs” that very clearly were not. You are right on one thing. It was released in that beta state. You say “post release maintenance”, I say “beta”.

  • Minecraft… ’nuff said… People will pay for something in beta and get to try out bleeding-edge technology, and it helps cover dev costs, so it’s a win-win.

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