Apple’s developer betas are now free to download and install

Those with free Apple developer accounts can access developer betas for the company’s latest software while paying ones do. Indicated by user iSoftware updates on Twitter and affirmed by Apple’s developer program comparison page, OS beta releases can now be installed without the need to pay the annual $99 fee for the Apple Developer Program. This means that interested users will be able to install various betas including iOS 17 for free starting today and will have to wait until July for the public beta. That is, as long as they have an Apple Developer Account.

After WWDC yesterday, Apple released the iOS 17 developer beta, which unlike previous years, people in the free tier now have access to. While it may have previously appeared that opening up access to free accounts meant that the public could also download these, we now understand that no one has access to developer betas. You must have an Apple ID or account enrolled in the Developer Program. The $99 barrier to entry has been lifted.

Earlier this year, Apple made a change to the way it distributes betas to developers. Previously, developers had to download and install a configuration profile for each device. But the system now allows users to install betas directly on their devices by checking an option in the software update settings. Despite the change, Apple still has to pay $99 a year to get access to developer betas. Now, users who don’t want to pay don’t have to wait for the public beta, which is always available for free, but usually released later than developer betas. This year, Apple says public betas should arrive in July.

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There may be bugs and issues, and we highly discourage running the beta on your main devices, especially early in the cycle. These betas are intended for developers with secondary devices to test their apps against new software. Certain betas, such as watchOS 10, TVOS 17, HomePod 17, and AirPods, prevent reverting to public, stable software. For those platforms, once you install the beta, it’s usually available in the fall until the next public release comes out. Install these betas strictly at your own risk. But those who are risk averse and are part of the developer plan can download it now.

UPDATE (10:15 p.m. ET): This article has been updated to clarify that while the developer betas are now available to those with free accounts, this is not an accident and is not open to just anyone. To download the developer beta, you must have an Apple ID or account associated with the developer program.

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