How to Become an iOS Beta Tester: Part 3 Can You Keep a Secret?

In this final post about ‘How to Become an iOS Beta Tester, we ask the question, “Can you keep a secret?” Why is that so important for a beta tester? The bigger question is, why is that important at all in this culture of openness? Some people applaud certain groups or individuals who expose governments, corporations and individuals to the world via the internet. Should governments keep secrets? If not, maybe they should publish all our social security numbers. Should corporations keep secrets? If not, maybe they should publish all our credit card numbers. Should doctors keep secrets?… You know where I’m going with this.

It would be ludicrous to think of a true open society as one that stands naked before the world knowing there are political and social rapists lurking about to take advantage of that exposure. We all have secrets; some we keep for safety sake, others we might keep out of embarrassment. That’s not to say that criminal activity should be kept secret. There are things that need to be exposed to protect the innocent and punish the criminals. We need to discern which is which.

Don’t Test & Tell

Most independent developers do not have their beta testers sign lengthy NDA’s (non disclosure agreements) that would have you banished from the planet for disclosing pre-release information. On the other hand, Apple might do so if you were testing and telling. Developers do, however, usually have a published NDA on their site.

Let’s say you love the app you are testing and want to blog about it, contact the developer first to get their approval.

Being first to market is not always nor often the key to success. Just look at the Apple iPad. It was not the first tablet. Bill Gates introduced the a Microsoft tablet in 2001, nine years before the iPad. One thing that made the iPad successful, aside from it being a superior product to its predecessors was this, its details were kept under tight wraps until its release. If anyone can give lessons on keeping secrets, it is Apple. It has served them well.

The first ‘book building’ app will not necessarily be the one that gains the most momentum, nor will it necessarily make the most money. However, an advantage a developer will have over his competitors is that they keep what’s under the hood a secret as much as possible.

Reaching New Heights

Now lets return to the space program. Exploration into outer space has always relied heavily on people willing to take risks to achieve the new and seemingly impossible heights. We are familiar with the ‘first man on the moon’ story, where in 1969, Neil Armstrong stepped off the ladder of the Apollo 11 lander and made his now-infamous declaration, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Consider this; his life rode in hardware and in programers code kept secret from the Russians against whom  they were in the space race. Lives, reputations and a lot of money were put at risk to achieve a dream. You can be sure that countless hours of testing that went before launch.

We salute the beta testers who help make software and apps safe and enjoyable for public consumption.

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