The first iOS 17 Developer Beta was released on the first day of WWDC, as is tradition. While it is meant for developers to begin building apps using new frameworks and APIs, and to test and send bug reports if their apps don’t work with the new software, it is technically available to anyone with a developer account.
In fact, the Developer Beta used to require a paid membership to the developer program, which costs $99 a year. With iOS 17, Apple changed its policy to allow even those with free developer accounts (which otherwise only provide access to the developer forums and Xcode) to download the iOS 17 Developer Beta.
The first Public Beta was released on July 12, and corresponds with the same build as Developer Beta 3.
Update 08/16/23: Apple has released Public Beta 4, which is identical to Developer Beta 6 released yesterday.
iOS 17: New Features
As iOS 17 is a major release, it is full of new features. Some of our favorite iOS 17 features include live voicemail transcription, vastly improved autocorrect, better Siri (including the ability to trigger it with “Siri” rather than “Hey Siri”), contact posters, and StandBy.
Our iOS 17 guide has more on all the features coming this fall to your iPhone. Here, we’ll highlight any of the particularly interesting changes and updates in the latest beta release. Here are the most significant changes discovered in Developer Beta 6:
End Call button: It took two months for the mainstream press to catch on that the End Call button had moved at all, and now in Developer Beta 6 the End Call button is in the middle. It’s still grouped with all the other call buttons rather than off by itself; it has just swapped positions with the Keypad button.
Photos splash screen: The Photos app now has a splash screen to tell you what’s new the first time you open it.
Photo picker in Messages: If you press and hold the (+) button in Messages (used to access Messages apps), the photo picker will open right away. It’s a little faster and easier than tapping the (+) button then Photos, but not very discoverable.
iOS 17: How to install the public beta
If you want to be among the first to test iOS 17, you can sign up for the public beta test. The process for installing a beta has changed in iOS 16.4. Here’s how the new process works now:
Open the Settings app, tap General, then Software Update.
In the Beta Updates section, select the iOS Public Beta.
It may take a few moments after registering for the beta option to appear in Software Update.
The public beta test for iOS 17 started on July 12, and we suggest most users wait for it–as buggy as public betas can be, the early developer betas of major new OS releases are often even more error-prone and incomplete.
iOS 17: How to install the developer beta
You’ll need to be registered as an Apple developer. Beginning with iOS 17, you don’t need to be in the $99 per year developer program to access the developer beta. A free developer account will do. You can get one via Xcode or the Apple Developer app in iOS. Here’s how to do it via the Apple Developer app:
If you want to sell applications to the App Store you’ll need to pay $99/£79 per year for a paid account. Sign up to the Apple Developer Program (here) or through Apple’s Developer App. You can compare the free and paid accounts here.
Registered developers can choose to get the Public Beta instead by selecting iOS Public Beta in the Software Update screen. It may take a little time after registering as a developer for the option to appear in Software Updates.
Some developers have an Apple ID registered for developer access that is different from the Apple ID associated with their personal Apple account and data. To use a different Apple ID for beta access than is used throughout the rest of iOS, open Settings > General > Software Update > Beta Updates and select the Apple ID at the bottom of the screen.
iOS 17 beta: Risks and precautions
Betas are test versions of upcoming software. They are by definition unfinished, and while they should include most or all of the features in the finished product, there will be cosmetic differences and, inevitably, some glitches and problems that will need to be fixed. The glitches and problems are why Apple bothers to beta-test iOS in the first place.
In other words, don’t expect a perfect user experience. In particular, don’t expect existing apps (including ones that you may rely on) to work properly. In extreme cases, you may even find that your device is bricked by the beta, and cannot be used until the next beta comes along and hopefully fixes the problem. It’s not uncommon for early beta software to exhibit problems like excessive battery drain, too.
The closer we get to the final launch and iOS version, the more polished and feature-complete we can expect the available betas to become. The counter to that, of course, is there will be less time left to wait for the official launch anyway.
We can’t stress enough how important it is to back up your iPhone before you install an iOS beta, or better still, use a secondary device rather than your main iPhone. You won’t lose everything if something goes wrong while the beta is installing, and you’ll be able to go back to the last version should you want to.