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Everything you need to know about Apple's developer and public betas

iPadOS 16
(Image credit: Bryan M. Wolfe / iMore)

Apple engineers continuously work around the clock to build new versions of macOS, iOS, tvOS, watchOS, Xcode, and more for users and developers alike. So whether you're building an app for one of Apple's upcoming operating systems or just excited about all the new features coming this fall, you're probably going to want to get ahold of the company's beta software.

What iPhones, iPads, Macs, Apple Watches, and Apple TVs will run the new developer and public betas?

Currently, Apple is in process of completing software updates for iPhone (iOS 16), iPad (iPadOS 16), Mac (macOS 13 Ventura), Apple Watch (watchOS 9), and Apple TV (tvOS 16). To install the updates, your devices must support them.

iPhone

To run iOS 16, you must have a supported iPhones, which includes all the best iPhones and the current flagship, the iPhone 13

  • iPhone 13 Pro Max
  • iPhone 13 Pro
  • iPhone 13
  • iPhone 13 mini
  • iPhone SE (2022)
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone 12 Pro
  • iPhone 12
  • iPhone 12 mini
  • iPhone SE (2020)
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone 8

iPad

The following iPads support iPadOS 16:

  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (4th generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (2nd generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2nd generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st generation)
  • iPad Pro 10.5-inch
  • iPad Pro 9.7-inch
  • iPad (9th generation)
  • iPad (8th generation)
  • iPad (7th generation)
  • iPad (6th generation)
  • iPad (5th generation)
  • iPad mini (6th generation)
  • iPad mini (5th generation)
  • iPad Air (5th generation)
  • iPad Air (4th generation)
  • iPad Air (3rd generation)

Mac

To run macOS 13 Ventura, be sure you have one of the following Macs

  • iMac (2017 and later)
  • iMac Pro (2017 and later)
  • MacBook (2017 and later)
  • MacBook Air (2018 and later)
  • MacBook Pro (2017 and later)
  • Mac mini (2018 and later)
  • Mac Pro (2019 and later)
  • Mac Studio (2022)

Apple TV

You can run tvOS 16 on the following devices:

  • Apple TV (4th generation)
  • Apple TV HD
  • Apple TV 4K
  • Apple TV 4K (2nd generation)

Apple Watch

Finally, these Apple Watches support watchOS 9

  • Apple Watch Series 4
  • Apple Watch Series 5
  • Apple Watch Series 6
  • Apple Watch Series 7
  • Apple Watch SE

I'm not a developer — Is it OK for me to test out Apple's beta software anyway?

If you've got a case of FOMO (fear of missing out) and want to try out the beta of an upcoming operating system, you should consider waiting. However, if you don't want to wait and have a secondary device, a public beta is more reliable than a developer beta. However, there are still a lot of bugs to work out, so we don't recommend installing any beta on your daily device. It's too risky.

We've got a thorough guide for who should or shouldn't participate in public beta programs.

How to sign up for a developer account or public beta membership

If you are an app developer or are interested in becoming one, you can enroll in Apple's Developer Program (opens in new tab) to become a part of the Apple development community and get the tools and training you need to develop apps for the App Store. With this membership, you'll get access to developer betas of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS. Apple App Developer Program memberships cost $99 per year.

Developers tend to get beta software first, but that software can be unstable and bug-prone. So if you want a sneak peek at Apple's new software but don't want to take the risk of bricking your device on a developer seed, the company also offers a public beta (opens in new tab) program, which usually launches about a month after the developer betas, so you don't have to wait too long.

You can sign up for the public betas by visiting beta.apple.com (opens in new tab) and clicking the Sign-Up link, or — if you're already a public beta member — logging in with your Apple ID and password.

Designate devices — and back them up

While you can install beta software on your primary Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV, you risk rendering your devices inoperative. So before you do anything else, you'll want to pick what devices you will install the betas on. Remember, installing a developer beta or public beta on your mainly-used device is not advisable. Choose wisely.

Most important of all, back up your device before installing a beta. This will be most helpful if you run across a problem and having an archived backup is required for downgrading.

How to install beta versions of macOS, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS

We've put together reports on installing the current developer betas crop. We've got them for macOS, iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, and tvOS

Additionally, there are reports on public betas. These include macOS, iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, and tvOS

How to report bugs and send feedback

You can send feedback to Apple through the Feedback Assistance app on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac or directly from Apple's Feedback Portal on the Web (opens in new tab).

How to downgrade from the betas

If for any reason, you decide that beta testing is not for you, you can downgrade, but you'll need to have proper backups before you upgrade, so read our guides before you get started. These reports are available on iOS/iPadOS, macOS, and tvOS. Unfortunately, you can't downgrade watchOS

It's your choice

We're not endorsing beta testing for everyone. In fact, we're strongly against it if you're the type of person that rather not deal with software bugs. And yet, we know there are a lot of non-techies out there that love using pre-release software, so it was important to publish this post. Regardless, know that new software is coming soon across all Apple devices. It's up to you to decide when you're going to start using it! Enjoy. 

Updated July 22: Updated for the latest round of Apple's beta software.

Bryan M Wolfe
Bryan M Wolfe

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.

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