Apple's Beta Software Program Lets You Try Unreleased iOS Features

Beta software can be glitchy, so we suggest downloading beta updates on something other than your main device just in case.

Zachary McAuliffe Staff writer
Zach began writing for CNET in November, 2021 after writing for a broadcast news station in his hometown, Cincinnati, for five years. You can usually find him reading and drinking coffee or watching a TV series with his wife and their dog.
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Zachary McAuliffe
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Try out new iOS features by joining Apple's Beta Software Program.

Celso Bulgatti/CNET

Apple made the iOS 17 developer beta available to anyone who enrolls in the Apple Developer Program, regardless of whether they paid the $99 enrollment fee. However, developer betas can be full of bugs and glitches. If you want a more stable version of iOS 17 but don't want to wait until the fall, you could sign up for Apple's Beta Software Program and download that beta version when it becomes available in July.

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This program allows you to test beta versions of iOS software (and not just iOS 17) before wider release. New iOS features can be fun, but we recommend downloading a beta only on something other than your primary phone, just in case the new software causes issues. Apple also provides beta testers with an app called Feedback. Testers can use it to notify Apple of any issues in the new software -- that way the problem can be addressed before general release. 

If you want to beta test the latest iOS software and help push it across the finish line, here's how to sign up for Apple's Beta Software Program.

Joining Apple's Beta Software Program on your iPhone

Signing up for the program takes a few steps. Here's how to sign up on your iPhone.

1. Back up whatever iPhone you plan to use beta software on. Again, we recommend using an iPhone that isn't your main device.

2. Go to the Apple Beta Software Program page on that iPhone.

3. Tap Sign Up.

4. Sign into your Apple ID.

5. You should already be in the iOS section, but if not, tap iOS under Guide for Public Betas.

6. Tap enroll your iOS device under the Get Started section.

7. Tap Download profile and Allow.

8. Go back to your home screen and tap Settings.

9. Tap Profile Downloaded.

10. Tap Install in the top-right corner of your screen. 

11. Enter your passcode and tap Install again on the consent form.

12. Tap Install for the third time.

13. Restart your iPhone.

14. Once your phone has restarted, go to Settings and tap General

15. Tap Software Update and if one is available, download it as you normally would.

For more on iOS, check out what to expect with iOS 17 and features you might have missed in iOS 16.5 and iOS 16.4.

Watch this: Apple Reveals iOS 17