As expected, Apple officially took the wraps off iOS 17 at WWDC 2023. The next major release of the iPhone operating system includes some exciting new features, ranging from improvements to phone calls and FaceTime to a new Journal app.
The final release of iOS 17 isn’t expected to arrive until September, but as usual, Apple is making its first developer preview available now to give developers a head start on prepping their apps so they’re ready to go as soon as iOS 17 officially lands in the fall. If the past few years are any indication, we’ll also see a public beta arrive sometime in July, usually in tandem with the third or fourth developer beta.
Unlike Android, Apple limits its early betas only to its registered developers — those folks who are paying members of Apple’s Developer Program. The good news is that just about anybody can sign up, although the bad news is that it will cost you $99 per year. However, if you’re really eager to be an early adopter, that’s likely the only way — and certainly the only legitimate way — to get your hands on iOS 17 for now. This year, Apple is closing some of the loopholes that allow non-developers to get access to the early, developer-only betas.
Once the public betas arrive in a few weeks, you’ll be able to sign up for Apple’s free public Beta Software program and get early access to iOS 17 at no extra cost, other than dealing with the inevitable bugs that come with any early beta release. The public betas run parallel to the developer betas, usually released a day or two afterward, so you won’t be missing anything in iOS 17 by not being a member of Apple’s Developer Program.
Back up your iPhone
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If you’re going to go through with installing an early developer beta of iOS 17 on your primary device, you’ll want to make sure you have a good backup of your iPhone first. Having a backup is a good idea before installing any major iOS upgrade, but it would be very foolish not to make a backup before installing the first or second developer betas. Remember, Apple only intends for these to be used by developers on test devices that don’t have anything important on them.
It’s also important to note that Apple’s warranty doesn’t cover an iPhone running an iOS beta. Should you encounter problems with your iPhone — even if they’re unrelated to the beta — you’ll need to restore it to the last public iOS release before bringing or sending it in for repair. That will require restoring your iPhone to its new state, so you’ll want to make sure you have a backup in case this happens.
You can find the instructions on how to do this in our article on how to back up your iPhone.
We highly recommend making an additional backup to your Mac or PC in case you need to return to the iOS 16 public release. You can’t restore a backup made from a newer version of iOS onto an iPhone running an older version, and iOS backs up your iPhone to iCloud automatically every 24 hours. Only the three most recent iCloud Backups are retained, so it won’t take long for your iOS 16 backup to be pushed out of the rotation. Backing up to your computer will ensure you have a backup to fall back on in case you have to restore to iOS 16. While that could end up being weeks old, it’s probably still better than starting over with a blank slate.
Sign up for an Apple Developer Account
If you really want to get the iOS 17 beta right away, you’ll need to pay $99 to enroll in the Apple Developer Program. You can do this as an individual or an organization; however, the individual registration is faster and simpler as you don’t need to provide as much documentation — your legal name and address should be sufficient.
Note that this won’t give you immediate access to the iOS 17 beta; you’ll need to wait for Apple to approve your application first, which may take a couple of days.
Step 1: Using a web browser, visit the Apple Developer Program website.
Step 2: Select Start your enrollment.
Step 3: Sign in with your Apple ID and password.
Step 4: Agree to the Apple Developer agreement by selecting the checkbox and choosing the Submit button.
Step 5: Choose Continue enrollment on the web to process. Alternatively, you can follow the instructions to download the Apple Developer app and complete the enrollment process directly from your iPhone or iPad.
Step 6: On the next screen, fill in your personal information and select Continue.
Step 7: Select Individual/sole proprietor as your entity type.
Step 8: Review the Apple Developer Program license agreement by selecting the checkbox and choosing the Continue button.
Step 9: If you would like your developer subscription to renew automatically each year, select the checkbox in the Auto-renewal section.
Step 10: Proceed to the payment screen by choosing the Purchase button.
Step 11: Enter your payment details and complete your purchase.
Sign up for Apple’s Public Beta Program
The iOS 17 public beta isn’t likely to arrive until July, but you can get a head start by signing up for the Apple Beta Software Program now. Until the first iOS 17 public beta shows up, this will give you access to betas of iOS 16.6 and any other point releases that follow that, but you’ll be ready to go when the first iOS 17 public betas show up in a few weeks.
Step 1: In a web browser, visit the Apple Beta Software Program website.
Step 2: Choose the blue Sign up button.
Step 3: On the next screen, enter your Apple ID and select the right-facing Arrow icon.
Step 4: When the password field appears, enter the password for your Apple ID and select the right-facing Arrow icon.
Step 5: If prompted, enter the six-digit two-factor authentication code sent to your iPhone, and then choose Trust if you want to skip the verification code prompt the next time you sign in, or choose Do not trust if you’re using a shared or public browser.
Step 6: Read the Apple Beta Software Program Agreement and choose Accept to confirm your acceptance of it.
Your Apple ID is now enrolled in the Apple Beta Software Program. You won’t be able to download the iOS 17 public beta yet, but when it does show up, you’ll be able to follow the steps in the next section to enable and install it.
Enable and install the iOS 17 beta on your iPhone
This year, Apple has made it considerably easier to download the iOS 17 betas for developers and public beta testers alike. Gone are the days of having to locate and install beta configuration profiles to tell your iPhone where to get the betas.
Instead, any iPhone with iOS 16.4 or newer installed can check whether your Apple ID is a member of the appropriate beta software program and offer up the appropriate beta options. It’s a much more straightforward process, but the downside is that your iPhone will need to be running at least iOS 16.4 to access these options; there’s no way to go directly to the iOS 17 beta from any older releases.
The other catch — and probably part of why Apple did this — is that there’s no longer a way to get access to the developer betas without an actual developer account. In the past, developer beta configuration profiles tended to leak out into the wild, allowing anybody who could get their hands on one to install otherwise-restricted iOS betas.
Here’s how to enable iOS beta downloads on your iPhone once you’ve signed up for the developer beta program:
Step 1: Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
Step 2: Select General.
Step 3: Select Software Update.
Step 4: Select Beta Updates. Note that this will only appear if your iPhone recognizes that your Apple ID is part of a beta program.
The next screen will show a list of betas that your Apple ID is eligible to download. You’ll see both developer betas and public betas here if you’re registered for both programs.
Step 5: Choose iOS 17 Developer Beta.
Step 6: Select Back from the top-left corner. You’ll be returned to the main software update screen, and the iOS 17 Developer Beta should appear after a second or two.
Step 7: Select Download and Install to begin installing the iOS 17 beta.
It may take up to an hour or more to download the iOS 17 beta, prepare it, and then install it on your iPhone. Once that process completes, your iPhone will restart and take you through the usual series of welcome and setup screens.
The iOS 17 developer beta setting will remain enabled in Software Update, so you’ll be on track to get future iOS 17 beta updates as they become available. Just return to Software update to check for the latest betas and download them as they become available.
You can also switch the Beta Updates setting in Software update to Off if you want to stop receiving future iOS 17 beta updates. This won’t revert your iPhone back to iOS 16 — you’ll have to wipe your iPhone and restore it from a Mac or PC if you want to do that — but it will leave you with whatever iOS 17 beta is currently installed, skipping future updates until the final release arrives in the fall. Since future betas generally improve things, we don’t recommend switching these off unless a future beta introduces a severe problem and you want to skip that release.