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Apple changes how developers download macOS and watchOS betas

Published Apr 11th, 2023 3:05PM EDT
Early 2023 MacBook Pro on a desk.
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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Following the launch of iOS 16.4, Apple is now changing how developers download macOS and watchOS betas with the latest version of both operating systems. According to 9to5Mac, users of these operating systems will have to enroll in new beta versions with a registered developer account.

As of now, this change is being tested for watchOS 9.5 beta 2 and macOS 13.4 beta 2. Although it won’t impact how current users enroll in Apple’s latest beta versions, it will change when the company unveils iOS 17, watchOS 10, macOS 14, iPadOS 17, and tvOS 17.

Here’s how the company described this change with iOS 16.4:

“Beginning with iOS & iPadOS 16.4 beta, members of the Apple Developer Program will see a new option to enable developer betas directly from Software Update in Settings. This new option will be automatically enabled on devices already enrolled in the program that update to the latest beta release. Your iPhone or iPad must be signed in with the same Apple ID you used to enroll in the Apple Developer Program in order to see this option in Settings. In future iOS and iPadOS releases, this new setting will be the way to enable developer betas, and configuration profiles will no longer grant access.”

Although this change makes it easy for registered developers to download a new beta version, it will prevent public users from downloading beta versions meant for developers, such as the first beta version of the new operating systems.

Is it the end of beta testing for Apple users?

Actually, no. Apple is just limiting the developer’s beta to developers. Sometimes, a beta version has a critical error or can even break someone else’s device. Usually, developers have a spare iPhone, Apple Watch, Mac, and Apple TV to try the upcoming features without interfering with their primary devices.

Unaware regular users, on the other hand, can lose access to important features and apps depending on the bug affecting a beta version. For example, when Apple introduces a major iOS version, sometimes the beta update breaks the phone app, affects access to banking apps, or kills your favorite mobile game due to incompatibility with an API.

Separating the developer beta from the public beta helps Apple and Apple device owners avoid headaches. That said, if you still want to try the latest betas, Apple offers the Public Beta Program, which even includes HomePod updates now.

José Adorno Tech News Reporter

José is a Tech News Reporter at BGR. He has previously covered Apple and iPhone news for 9to5Mac, and was a producer and web editor for Latin America broadcaster TV Globo. He is based out of Brazil.

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