Apple's iOS 17 Developer Beta is now free for everyone — but some users are furious

iOS 17
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple has quietly updated its developer beta policy in the wake of WWDC 2023, enabling any user to download the developer beta of its latest software without paying the $99 fee. 

The news comes following reports earlier on Tuesday noting that the Developer Betas were appearing free to download for anyone running iOS 16.5, as well as the latest versions of watchOS 9 and macOS Ventura

Apple's Developer Website now states that OS beta releases are included for users who sign in to the site using their Apple ID. Essentially, you can download the iOS 17 Developer beta as early as developers without paying. 

Still confusing

The matter remains confusing, however, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, as we reported yesterday, the betas remain available to download for anyone, even if they have not signed up for Apple's Developer Program on the website. Multiple team members at our site in the UK and in the U.S. were able to access the iOS 17 beta despite never having used personal Apple IDs on the developer website. 

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Secondly, the news has come as a very unpleasant surprise for eager users who paid the $99 Developer fee to Apple in the wake of WWDC 23 for the sole purpose of getting access to iOS 17, iPadOS 17, watchOS 10, macOS Sonoma, and tvOS 17 early, only to find out they could have waited a day and got it free along with everyone else. 

"So basically I got scammed for $108," said one user on Twitter. Another lamented "so I just paid for the developer account last night for nothing." 

The situation is all the more confusing given that Apple recently implemented some big changes in iOS 16 to prevent people from getting access to developer betas. From Apple'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. 

iMore has contacted Apple to clarify why users who have not signed up for a free developer account can access the betas, and whether anyone who has paid the fee to access the betas will be able to apply for a refund. 

We're covering all the WWDC 2023 announcements live and as they happen. Don't miss all our Apple Vision Pro, iOS 17, macOS Sonoma, iPadOS 17, and watchOS 10 news so far.

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

  • darylbaxter
    Has anyone not got this message?
    We've heard from a few that they're not seeing 'iOS 17 Developer Beta' in Software Update.