This is the second major product release by Apple in 6 months that fincludes a significant feature being included in the release in beta form (the other being Siri). This seems to be a new thing for Apple – I can’t recall another Apple product launch before Siri including beta features. I don’t think this is a good thing – Apple’s reputation is partly based on only launching products when they’re ready and fit for general release.
Maybe this is creative use of the term beta (to limit users expectations), or perhaps I’m wrong and there have been previous instances. I can’t think of any.