How to Sign Up for Apple's iOS Public Beta Program

Get new iOS 14 features before anyone else

Apple officially releases new versions of iOS in the Fall—usually September—but did you know there's a way to get the latest version on your iPhone or iPad months early? It's called the Apple Beta Software Program.

Apple's beta program for iOS is completely free and open to anyone with a compatible device. It lets you start using the next-gen software before the public release. That means you can start using iOS 14 months before it's officially released!

Read on to find out what this program entails, whether it's right for you, and how to sign up.

Apple will release the first iOS 14 beta to the public in July 2020.

What Is a Public Beta?

In software development, "beta" is the name given to a pre-release version of an app or operating system. Software is considered beta when it's in an advanced stage of development, but isn't yet complete. The basic features are in place but the software isn't ready for use by the general public because there some things still need to be done, such as fix bugs, improve speed, and polish the product.

Apple Public Beta Program
image copyright Apple Inc.

Traditionally, beta software is distributed only within the company that's developing it or to a trusted set of testers. Beta testers work with the software, look for problems and bugs, and report to the developers to help improve the product.

A public beta is slightly different. Instead of limiting the beta tester group to internal staff or small groups, the software is made available to the general public. This expands the amount of testing that's done, which leads to better software.

What Are The Risks of the Public Beta?

While getting new software months before it's released is exciting, it's important to understand that public betas are not for everyone. Betas have bugs. This means that the beta software may crash often, features and apps may not work properly, and data may be lost.

It's also tricky to return to the previous version after the beta software is installed. To uninstall the beta, you should be comfortable restoring your phone to factory settings, restoring from backup, and other maintenance tasks.

When you install beta software, the trade-off for early access is that things may not work as well as normal. If that's too risky for you—and it will be for a lot of people, especially those who rely on their iPhones for work—wait for the official release.

How to Sign Up for the iOS Public Beta

If you want to get iOS 14 early, sign up for the Apple Beta Software Program by following these steps:

  1. Open Safari and visit the Apple Beta Software Program web page.

    Do these steps directly on your iPhone or other iOS device. It's more steps, and more complicated, if you start on a computer and then have to switch to your iPhone.

  2. Select Sign up.

    Screenshots of signing up for the Apple Public Beta Program
  3. Log in with your Apple ID.

    If you don't have one for some reason, create a new Apple ID, then return to this step.

  4. Scroll down to the Get Started section, tap enroll your iOS device.

  5. Follow the instructions to create and archive a backup of your iPhone in its current state.

  6. In Step 2 of Apple's instructions page, tap Download profile.

    Screenshots of signing up for the Apple Public Beta Program
  7. In the pop-up window, tap Allow to download a configuration profile.

  8. In the download confirmation box, tap Close.

    Screenshots of signing up for the Apple Public Beta Program
  9. Go to Settings > Profile Downloaded, tap Install, then tap Install two more times for confirmation.

  10. When prompted to reboot your iPhone or iPad, choose Restart.

  11. Go to Settings > General > Software Update, then tap Download and Install to update your iOS device to the most recent beta version.

    Download and Install in Software update for iOS
  12. Wait while your device downloads and installs the update. It will reboot once more to finish the installation. When it restarts the final time, you'll be running the latest beta version of the iOS.

Decided you don't want to use a beta version of the iOS anymore? Downgrade your version of the iOS to return to the latest official version.