Daily Tip: How to join Apple's iOS dev program and legitimately test iOS 5 beta

Just heard about Apple's shiny new iOS 5 beta and curious how you can test it out early? Unfortunately, a bunch of shady characters will no doubt pop up offering to sell early access to unsuspecting users, often leaving them high and dry when betas expire. Luckily, Apple provides the betas directly to anyone signed up for their paid iOS developers program (not the free ones, sorry). Sure it costs $99 a year, but it gives you a year of beta access for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Apple TV, iTunes, Xcode, etc. and leaves you in control of your own destiny when it comes to updating.

If you're thinking about developing for iOS 5 and want to test it out, follow on after the break and we'll tell you how!

WARNING 1: There are a couple giant red flags you need to be aware of before you begin. First, betas are not meant for your main, day-to-day iPhone. They're called betas for a reason and there can be any number of bugs, glitches, and gotchas that will make your life miserable. Use a secondary device, like an old iPhone or iPad, or an iPod touch to test with.

WARNING 2: Once you go beta, it's difficult to impossible to go back to a previous version. One. Way. Trip. So if you put iOS 5 on your main iPhone and hate it, tough luck. If you miss your Jailbreak, too bad. What's done is done. So again, a secondary device is your friend.

WARNING 3: Apple warranties and AppleCare don't cover devices with beta firmware. If you have a problem with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch and it's running iOS 5 beta, the local Apple Store geniuses can't help you. You'll have to contact a special developer support center for assistance, and that's usually nowhere near as convenient.

WARNING 4: Once you sign up, download, and install beta firmware, you've agreed to Apple's pre-release NDA (non-disclosure agreement). That means, like Fightclub, you can't talk about iOS 5 in public. Sure, people break NDAs and send blogs like TiPb and others tons of images and descriptions, but they can be held accountable by Apple, have their developer accounts revoked, and otherwise suffer penalties in accordance to the NDA. So once you're through the looking glass, mum's the word.

Now that you've been warned, let's get on with it!

Signing up for the iOS developer program

  1. Point your browser to http://developer.apple.com/programs/ios/
  2. Click on Enroll now
  3. Review the steps if you want to, then click Next
  4. If you're already a developer (for example, Safari or Mac), you can sign in with your existing Apple Developer ID and skip ahead to step number 10. Otherwise, you need to create an account or tie it to your existing Apple ID (iTunes, MobileMe, etc.)
  5. Choose whether you want to enroll as an individual or a company. If you're just one person and don't have team who'll be working with you, choose individual.
  6. Sign in with your Apple ID.
  7. Apple will email you a verification code. Enter it and click Continue.
  8. Soak in your welcome, then click Continue.
  9. Now here's where it gets a little confusing. You're registered but you're not paid yet, which means SDK access but no beta firmware. So next you have to pay up. Go back to step number 4, but this time choose "Existing Apple developer" and enroll.
  10. Choose Individual or Company, as above, and sign in with your Apple ID, also as above.
  11. Enter your billing information, follow the instructions, and the Apple Online Store will take care of the rest.

That's it, you're now a registered and paid Apple iOS developer and ready to download your beta firmware and get with your testing. Good luck!

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