Why You Shouldn’t Install Apple’s Betas Without a Developer Account (Yet)

Why You Shouldn’t Install Apple’s Betas Without a Developer Account (Yet)
Photo: nikkimeel, Shutterstock

Every year at WWDC, Apple announces new versions of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and watchOS. But this is just a taste: The software doesn’t actually ship until fall, three months after the event.

If you’re impatient, you can download and install a developer beta that’s available the same day as the event. But this version of the software is usually a buggy mess, and installing it isn’t as easy as pressing the update button. The idea of using iOS 16, iPadOS 16, watchOS 9, or macOS Ventura three months before anyone else is alluring, but unless you have an Apple Developer account, you probably shouldn’t.

A developer account means business

A public beta is available to anyone who has an Apple account. But to install a developer beta, you need to have to be an Apple developer, an account that costs around $140 per year. That’s a good thing, and a good barrier.

A developer account means business, and so does the developer beta, at least at the beginning of beta testing. While all beta software is risky, since the software is not yet finished, the first developer beta is the riskiest bet of all: It’s the first version of the software available to a limited pool of testers, which means you’ll definitely run into bugs, both big and small. These issues can affect your device’s performance and battery life, and while they often range from amusing to annoying, some could interfere with your ability to use your device at all.

If one of these issues stops you from being able to use your device, you’ll need to restore it to a previous version of the software. Unless you have an archived backup of that software, that usually means a factory reset of your device. Any data that isn’t backed up elsewhere will be lost.

In short, this first beta is meant for a developer to test and create a new version of their app, not for the general public to install on their main iPhones, iPads, or Macs.

Anyone who isn’t a developer should wait for the public beta

The good news is Apple has a public beta program for anyone who isn’t a developer to get in on software testing, which will be available in early July. In that time, the betas’ bigger bugs will be squashed, battery life will (hopefully) stabilise, and the risk of losing all your personal data will be greatly reduced. Plus, you’ll be able to go through Apple’s official beta channels for free.

Only download beta profiles from Apple

That said, not everyone wants to wait for a public beta. If you are a developer, or even a curious soul who doesn’t care about the issues with an initial beta, go ahead and install it, but make sure to take a complete backup of your device first. And if you do install the developer beta, you should do so through an official Apple Developer account.

You’ll find many websites that will provide you with a developer profile as a direct download (or an IPSW file that you can manually restore using the Mac), but we suggest you stay away from them. While they might be legit, there’s no guarantee nor safety check. If the file is corrupted or contains malicious code, both your device and your personal information will be at risk.

According to the iOS Beta community on Reddit, Beta Profiles is a trusted source for beta profiles, but again, we recommend you stick with Apple’s developer website.

Here’s how you can install the iOS 16 or iPadOS 16 beta on your iPhone or iPad and how to install the macOS Ventura beta. You can install the watchOS 9 beta on your Apple Watch, but even with an official Apple account, we strongly discourage it.

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