A few months prior to the final release of OS X Yosemite last year, Apple announced its OS X Beta Program, which allowed one million users to test out some of the new features on Yosemite before the final build was released. Based on the success of the program, the company is doing the same thing on iOS for the first time.
Starting in mid-March, iPhone owners will be able to install the beta version of iOS 8.3. Apple's hope with the public beta release is that more eyes on the developing build will help eliminate more bugs throughout the process.
The public build is also the third iOS 8.3 beta build for developers, so the general public can see the same features as the developers. Just like in the OS X beta program, users will also have an app that allows them to send feedback about the beta back to Apple.
By the time the general public gets their hands on the beta, they will be testing a few new features such as wireless CarPlay (which allows the iOS device to communicate with Apple's CarPlay system on select vehicles), an upgraded emoji keyboard, and easier logins for Google's apps.
The public beta is expected to go all the way to the official release of iOS 9. The initial announcement about iOS 9 is expected to be during Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in the summer with a final release date expected before the end of the year.
Depending on the effectiveness of the public beta, Apple could potentially bail on the idea for the next iteration of iOS, but considering the overall success of the beta on OS X, the program might stick around for a long time.