Whatever you do, don't download the iOS 17 developer beta - Apple made a huge mistake

ios 17 beta update
(Image credit: Future)

UPDATE: June 7 - Following this report, Apple has updated its Developer website to confirm that signing up for a free Developer Account will grant users access to the Developer Betas of iOS 17 and beyond without paying the $99 fee. However, the betas are also still accessible to those who have not signed up. 

Original story:

Apple has massively screwed up distributing the iOS 17 developer beta, accidentally making it available to everyone following WWDC 2023, iMore can confirm. We have reached out to Apple for confirmation of the blunder, but meanwhile -- don't take advantage.

iMore was contacted by Connor Jewiss, who noted on Twitter that the "iOS 17 Developer Beta showing up in Beta Updates section of Settings, even for those without a subscription." 

iMore can confirm that several of our team have been able to access the iOS 17 developer beta without having any sort of developer account or paid subscription, in what could be a monumental blunder for the company.  

iOS 17 beta blunder

Do not upgrade to the iOS 17 developer beta on a device you rely on: Beta software, also referred to as a preview, seed, or release candidate, is a version of software that’s still under development and not yet released to the public. This software is intended only for installation on development devices registered under your Apple Developer Program membership. Registered development devices can be upgraded to future beta releases and the public version of the software. Attempting to install beta software in an unauthorized manner violates Apple policy and could render your device unusable and necessitate an out-of-warranty repair. Make sure to back up your devices before installing beta software and install only on devices and systems that you’re prepared to erase if necessary.

The issue also appears to be affecting watchOS 10 and that developer beta from what we've found, as well as the macOS Sonoma beta if you're on 13.4, as well as iPadOS 17. 

iMore can confirm that not only is the beta showing but the download and install function works and can be used by anyone. This could be hugely problematic for anyone who stumbles upon the beta by accident. We've seen the beta available on iOS 16.5 in both the U.S. and the UK, but one test device not running iOS 16.5 did not have access to the software. As soon as we updated it, the iOS 17 developer beta showed up. 

Apple has previously changed the way beta software works to gatekeep it, ensuring that only users with a subscription can access it with a developer profile. However, it seems that as of right now, anyone with an iPhone running iOS 16.5 can access it. From iOS 16.4's release notes:

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.

We've heard that multiple users have been able to download the beta and get it running despite having no developer accounts or subscriptions. Again, we can't stress this enough, please don't upgrade to this developer beta on your main device. If Apple patches this issue after you've downloaded the software, you'll be stuck on the buggy first release of the iOS 17 developer beta until the official release of the public beta next month. 

We've reached out to Apple for comment on the situation, and while it is possible that this is intentional, we can't see any reason why the iOS 17 developer beta would be available to download for those not enrolled in the beta program and paying a subscription, especially given the change made with iOS 16.4.

It's likely that the developer beta for iOS 17 won't be around for long once Apple realizes the error has occurred. But meanwhile ... maybe stick with iOS 16?

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9

  • Just_Me_D
    Well, here’s your opportunity to install the first dev beta of iOS 17…. ;)
  • Jeremy Kaplan
    I installed it last night, even though I'm not a developer (and that's a recipe for disaster, but oh well). WEIRD. Waiting to hear from Apple about whether this was actually a big mistake or some odd new strategy.
  • phlamethrowre
    I doubt that Apple has made some huge error. They aren’t known for that type of thing. This article is overly dramatic and probably incorrect.
  • phlamethrowre
    Apparently Apple intended to let everyone in the beta program have the dev beta this time. Nice.
  • Kal Madda
    I think it’s kind of laughable that so many sites like this assumed that Apple made the changes to the way betas were installed in order to “gatekeep” them for only people with a subscription, and then when Apple made the first Developer Beta of iOS 17 available to non-paid developers, they continued to reinforce their prior assumptions with yet further assumptions that Apple must have done this as some sort of blunder. It’s not Apple that’s messed up here, it‘s these sites that made to many assumptions and now look silly trying to backpedal. The thought apparently never crossed any of their minds that perhaps Apple was simply changing the way Developer Betas were installed to make it easier, not for some kind of malicious reason to gatekeep it. This is why you shouldn’t assume.
  • Lee_Bo
    I’m on the 17 dev version and so war it’s working just fine.
  • AlaskaJaxx
    My iPhone 14 PM and iPad M2 are both doing well on iOS 17, both the first and second betas

    Why not give an example, at least one example of how it screwed up someone’s iPad or iPhone? Seems a bit embellished in my opinion, it’s stable as can be.