Apple launches iOS 8.3 public preview for iPhones, iPads

The iPhone and iPad tech giant launched the new mobile software alongside its desktop operating system counterpart as a testbed for developers and early-adopters.

(Image: CNET/CBS Interactive)

Apple has opened a pre-release program for its mobile software to the public.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based technology giant released iOS 8.3 to its website ahead of an expected larger upgrade later this year.

Apple said that it hopes the public previews of both its desktop and mobile software will help "shape" its future products.

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The software, available for testing and previewing the latest features, expands the existing program that saw more than one million people download OS X Yosemite before it was widely available.

It's not immediately clear what's new in the iOS 8.3 software, however. That said, reports suggest a handful of incremental features -- including the ability to flag messages as "junk" -- are said to be in the works.

Three-quarters of all iPhone and iPad users are now running the latest version of iOS 8 upwards, according to the company's figures. It took months to reach this point, as a series of bugs and flaws hampered the software's rollout.

Storage became a major issue for potential upgraders, who couldn't install the software because of the bulk of the download. Many avoided upgrading as it meant removing photos, videos, and music from their device.

Apple was later hit with a class-action lawsuit, in which the complaint alleged Apple "shortchanges" its users.

The company's own snafus haven't helped matters, either. Days after iOS 8 was issued, it rolled out a botched iterative update, iOS 8.0.2, which Apple took two days to fix, leaving some 40,000 people without cell service.