Should You Sign Up for the Apple Beta Software Program?

While the Apple Beta Program gives you early access to fun features, there are potential downsides to testing unfinished software.

Following the WWDC 2021 event, Apple's Beta software for iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, tvOS 15 and watchOS 8 are scheduled for a public beta release sometime in July. If you enjoy being an early adopter and testing the newest technology, you might be interested in enrolling in the Apple Beta software program and becoming a beta tester. Being a beta tester can be an exciting and rewarding experience, however, all bets are off when dealing with pre-released software. In the article below, we'll discuss the Apple Beta Software Program in further detail, and also cover the pros and cons of enrolling in the program. 

Related: Everything Apple Announced at the WWDC 2021 Keynote

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What Is the Apple Beta Program? 

Beta software is newly developed software that hasn't yet been extensively tested and debugged. The Apple Beta Software Program lets you enroll your devices to try out this pre-release software. Through this large pool of everyday users, Apple can then catch outlying issues and solve problems before releasing this update to the general public.

When you sign up for the Apple Beta program, a Feedback app is also installed on your device, allowing you to send feedback on quality and usability directly to Apple to help identify common bugs and issues. Enrolling in the Beta testing program is voluntary, and there is no compensation for your participation. Why do it? We'll walk through the pros and cons of enrolling in this program below. 

Advantages of Enrolling in the Beta Software Program

1. Free access to exciting new features and upgrades.

This year, a range of exciting new features have been promised, with everything from a split view allowing you to multitask on your iPad to improved sound quality via spatial audio on your MacOS. If you adore testing the latest software and learning about new tech, you'll likely enjoy the experience of being a beta tester! With the Apple public beta software, you'll have access to new functionalities before most people, allowing you to become an expert before the commercial version is released to the general public several months later. 

2. Your feedback helps Apple shape its software.

As mentioned above, when you install the beta software, a Feedback Assistant app is installed on your device. Through this app you can offer valuable feedback and report any software bugs directly to Apple. If you enjoy exploring new features and offering feedback, helping debug Apple's software can be a rewarding experience. Through your feedback, you are helping to create stronger software (and less issues for the general public). 

Disadvantages of Installing Apple Beta Software

The potential risks of testing Apple's Beta software are fairly obvious: this software is still in development and can be unreliable. We'll discuss the downside and potential risks in further detail below.

1. Beta software can cause issues in device functionality. 

Software bugs can cause apps to repeatedly crash and certain programs may not run properly. In serious cases, you should be able to restore your device to the previous software version, however, there is the potential risk that the beta software will cause permanent device issues. Because of this, Apple strongly recommends that you test beta software only on non-essential devices. The Apple beta updates should also only be installed on personal devices (not work devices or those you share with others).

2. Software glitches can also damage your data.

This one should make you sweat a little. Beta software can potentially cause apps to crash, resulting in lost data. Before installing any beta software it is important to have a full backup of your device on iCloud or an external storage device. With Macs you can also set up a partition as a means of safely installing the beta software.

3. Resolving these issues might require you to restore your device. 

This disadvantage is really an extension of the two above, however, I've listed it separately here to highlight an important point. Debugging these potential issues and finding workarounds can be time-consuming. If the software glitches are really frustrating, you may need to remove the beta profile and completely restore your computer to the original software version prior to the beta install. This can mean losing all data accumulated between installing and removing the beta software. So before installing, it is important to consider whether you're willing to put the time and effort into resolving issues from any software glitches.

Bottom Line: Play It Safe

In the end, I recommend avoiding the Apple public beta program and waiting for the commercial release of the latest update. Getting access to new features is exciting, but the potential issues can become a real headache. However, if you are unfazed by the risks and disadvantages discussed above, you may be exactly the leading-edge beta tester Apple's been looking for! 

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Ashleigh Page's picture

Author Details

Ashleigh Page

Ashleigh Page is an Associate Editor for iPhone Life. With a background in computer science and creative writing, she loves blending aspects of the technical and creative. An avid technology enthusiast, she adores Apple products and keeping up with the latest innovations. When she’s not working, Ashleigh is often found crafting whimsical (and sometimes nonsensical) short stories, hiking, and playing sand volleyball.