Apple has said that its public beta program for upcoming software releases including iOS 11 will start in June. That means we can expect the first public betas sometime between now and Friday. Apple’s public beta program this year will allow users to test iOS 11, macOS High Sierra, and tvOS 11 for free, but there are still some things to consider before jumping in…
Public betas are still pre-release software. Expect things to break.
The first public betas will likely be the same software versions developers have been testing since last week. Assuming that’s the case, you should be extremely cautious about installing public betas on iPhones, iPads, and Macs that need to work without issues.
Battery life takes a hit, performance is still sluggish, and there are software bugs that won’t be sorted out until closer to the official launch. Third-party apps will also have issues that typically can’t be addressed until the new software is officially out. This can be something as basic as apps crashing when you do something as specific as pasting a URL to something like Instagram not playing nice with the new photo format iOS 11 uses.
You’ll likely find that macOS High Sierra is generally more stable than iOS 11, but it’s still pre-release software. Battery life and software bugs are still issues, but third-party software compatibility is the biggest concern most people face. Other issues include hiccups with iCloud syncing including Notes in some instances.
While you can restore to older versions of software during the public beta period, it’s a major hassle and you often end up losing some data depending on how it gets saved.
Create proper backups. iCloud backups get replaced but iTunes backups can be preserved.
Our data gets saved in lots of ways these days. If you use iCloud Photo Library, your photos and videos are regularly synced with iCloud, but other data like Messages only gets saved during iCloud or iTunes backups.
If you backup your iOS 10 data to iCloud then continue using iCloud backup with iOS 11, your previous backup will likely be replaced by the newer data which makes it harder to revert back from the public beta.
The solution here is to create an iTunes backup as well from a Mac or PC. This gives you an easier path back to stable software if you decide to try the public beta on your iPhone or iPad and want to go back to more stable software.
Keep in mind that new data created like Messages and Health between the iOS 10 backup and reverting from iOS 11 will likely be lost, which is why it’s important to consider whether or not you should run the public betas at all.
Time Machine backups on the Mac are generally a good idea for easy backup and restoring, but simply copying important files to an external drive can be the safest solution to making sure something critical doesn’t get hosed.
Something else to consider is that not all features are ready to test. Some features like Apple’s new Files app will require work from third-party apps to fully work for some users, and developers can’t ship iOS 11 features until the new software update is officially out.
Other new features like Apple Pay’s new person-to-person payments and Apple Pay Cash debit card aren’t available during the beta period yet. Even iCloud’s new ability to share 200GB and up monthly plans through Family Sharing will require everyone to run the pre-release software for now.
The last thing to consider is that there’s no watchOS 4 public beta for Apple Watch users. Apple TV is joining the public beta program for the first time this year with tvOS 11, but watchOS 4 remains only available to paid developer accounts.
This is likely because the Apple Watch cannot be restored to stable software in the same way other devices can (over a wired connection). Public beta testers can run iOS 11, macOS High Sierra, and tvOS 11, but a $99/year developer account is required for running watchOS 4 ahead of its release.
Stay tuned for more on public beta availability and how to update as soon as they’re released!