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

Get new iOS 12 features before anyone else

Apple devices

Apple Inc.

While Apple officially releases new versions of iOS in the Fall — usually September — there's a way to get the latest version on your iPhone or iPad months early. Sign up for the Apple beta program and test the new iOS features. Apple's beta program for iOS is called the Apple Beta Software Program. It's completely free for anyone to join and lets you start using the next-gen software before the public release.

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

Apple released iOS 12 public beta on Monday, June 25, 2018. The iOS 13 public beta will most likely be available by late June 2019.

What Is a Public Beta?

In the world of 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. The basic features are in place but the software isn't ready for public use because there are some things that need to be done, such as fix bugs, improve speed and responsiveness, and polish the product.

Traditionally, beta software is distributed only within the company that's developing it or to a trusted set of beta testers. The 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 to use and test. This expands the amount of testing that's done, which leads to better software.

What Are The Risks of the Public Beta?

While the idea of getting new software months before it's released is exciting, it's important to understand that public betas are not suited for all users. 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, do so with the understanding that the trade-off for early access is that things may not go well. 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

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

    If you start these steps from your computer, you'll later need to open a specific web page on your iOS device. Consider performing these steps from your phone or tablet.

  2. Select Sign up.

    Sign up button for Apple Beta Software Program
  3. Log in with your Apple ID. If you don't have one, create a new Apple ID, then return to this step.

  4. Go to the Enroll Your Devices page. Then, in the Get Started section, select enroll your iOS device.

    Enroll your iOS device to get started
  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.

    Download profile button on beta.apple.com
  7. Choose Allow to download a configuration profile.

  8. In the download confirmation dialog box, select Close.

  9. Go to Settings > Profile Downloaded, tap Install, then select Install two more times for confirmation.

    Install button in Install Profile window on macOS
  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.