Installing a beta version of iOS or iPadOS on your iPhone or iPad is easy, but only because they canthat doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. Here are a few things to weigh before you dive into Apple’s pre-release software pool.
Try future versions of iOS and iPadOS
Every year, Apple updates its core operating systems for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. These arrive as free updates sometime in the fall, with the initial announcement usually taking place at WWDC in June. But between the announcement and the final release, there is a beta phase where you can install preview versions of upcoming software.
This may be of interest to you if you’re excited about what’s to come. Pre-release software typically includes the vast majority of new Apple features shown off at WWDC, meaning you can potentially get a taste of what’s coming to iPhone and iPad before everyone else.
In addition to big announcements like redesigned versions of old apps, home screen or lock screen tweaks, and other big announcements; you’ll probably also notice a variety of smaller tweaks. These include things that were mentioned in passing during the main presentation or things that Apple didn’t talk about at all.
Installing a beta version of iOS or iPadOS also allows you to practice the changes. It can be difficult to know exactly how a new feature works, or how it affects other aspects of the operating system, without getting your hands dirty and using it. If you are curious, you can install the beta version and play.
Beta software has more bugs
The big problem with pre-release software is that it’s still a work in progress. The same level of scrutiny that goes into a “final” release is not seen here. Beta software is expected to have bugs, missing features, and other issues. Take a look at the r/iOSBeta subreddit for some examples.
These problems can affect almost every aspect of the operating system. You might find that core features like notifications aren’t working reliably, or that a feature you’ve used for years (like AirPlay) is completely broken. This can affect core services, such as the Notes app not syncing properly or the Podcasts app refusing to download the latest episodes of your favorite shows.
Beta software can also seriously affect the performance of your device. Not only can things run much slower, but you may also find that your battery life isn’t what you expect, and it drains much faster than it used to. You may encounter issues with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, or features like AirDrop not working as they should.
On top of this, some of the features you would expect to see may be completely missing. You may see visual bugs you’ve never noticed before, both in new features (like the lock screen or home screen changes) and old ones (like Apple Maps not displaying directions correctly in CarPlay mode ).
Things can change quite a bit from one beta version to the next, and software usually improves over time. However, sometimes, just like with final releases, a new version can fix some things and break others. That is the risk you run.
Developer Betas vs. public betas
There was a time when Apple’s iOS and iPadOS betas were limited to developers. To get on board, you’d need a (paid) subscription to Apple’s Developer Program which would give you the ability to enroll your device and legitimately install the beta using iTunes.
The purpose of developer betas is to allow third-party developers to test their apps and get everything ready for final release. These developer betas still exist and come almost immediately after the announcement of the new software at WWDC.
Since then, Apple has opened its beta software program to anyone who wants to participate. By subscribing to Apple’s Beta Software Program, the company invites its users to “test preview software and provide feedback to help us make it even better.” These releases arrive weeks after the initial developer beta releases and are typically more stable and feature-rich.
It’s best to avoid developer betas altogether (unless you’re maintaining an app), especially if you don’t already have a subscription to Apple’s Developer Program, which will cost $99. If you’re curious, you can join the public beta. for free and keep testing upcoming Apple operating systems.
Generally speaking, the longer you wait to install the beta, the better. Later versions will have more fixes, better stability and will be more complete. This is not an exact science to know that no pre-release software will be perfect. Even most “final” versions of iOS and iPadOS arrive with bugs and are quickly followed up with small patches.
Avoid beta software on your main device
If you’re still tempted to try Apple’s beta software, you should try doing so on a secondary device. It might not be a good idea to run a beta version of iOS on the iPhone you rely on for work or in-car navigation. The same goes for an iPad that you use as your primary device for taking notes at school or chatting with colleagues on conference calls.
If you have an old iPhone sitting in a drawer, it might be a great candidate for beta testing (as long as it’s compatible with the next version of iOS). If your iPad is a home entertainment device that you use to watch videos and play weird games, it might be okay to sacrifice stability to run the next version of iPadOS.
How to install Beta software on your iPhone or iPad (and remove it)
You can install beta versions of iOS or iPadOS once the public beta is available. Visit the Apple Beta Software Program from the device you want to enroll and follow the instructions to enroll.
If you later decide that preview software is not for you, you can remove the beta version and switch to the latest stable version.