If you can’t wait to get your hands on Apple’s latest operating systems, today’s your day: Apple has launched the public preview betas of iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and MacOS Ventura. Those are the next-generation operating systems that, in final form, are destined for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac this fall.
Apple is releasing preview versions of its operating systems early as part of its Apple Beta Software Program. This program allows customers to get their hands on early versions of future software so they can try it out early and send any bug reports and other feedback to the company. Apple’s public betas are in addition to its developer betas, which are often more buggy and geared toward creators of third-party apps.
Apple unveiled its new operating systems at its WWDC conference last month, but today’s launch is the first time the general public can get their hands on the software.
Yes, but should I install them?
Even if you’re eager to get Apple’s newest features months before the company releases them to the masses, you should think carefully before downloading and installing any public betas.
That’s because betas are unfinished and buggy by their very nature. Which is why there is a beta testing period in the first place–the aim is to find what works and what doesn’t. It’s generally pretty safe for developers to download and work with the developer betas because they have the technical experience to troubleshoot things when they go wrong—and can dedicate devices to running betas. But public beta testers may not be as technically astute. While the public betas are usually a generation or two behind the latest release of the developer beta, and are thus more stable, running a beta on your device can lead to unexpected consequences, such as crashes, lost data, or even issues that could leave a device altogether inoperable.
While instances of this happening are relatively rare, it is a risk beta testers must assume. The good news is that Apple says public beta testing of its software will not void the device’s warranty. Still, you should always back up all sensitive and important data before ever installing a beta. This way you can restore that data if a bug in the beta wipes your files out.
What do I get for being a public beta tester?
The main benefit to being a public beta tester are you get access to its newest operating systems and all their features well before the general public does.
For iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and MacOS Ventura, that means you’ll be able to unsend and edit messages sent with iMessage, schedule emails and unsend emails in the Mail app, access the new iCloud Shared Photo Library, use Safari Passkey logins, select and interact with Live Text in videos, plot routes with multiple stops in Maps, and secure your device behind the all-new Lockdown Mode.
And those are just the features that are in common across the three OSs. For iOS 16 beta testers, you’ll also get access to the iPhone’s new, highly customizable lock screen. This is the absolute highlight of iOS 16.
iPadOS 16 and MacOS Ventura beta testers will also get access to Apple’s highly-anticipated Stage Manager multitasking feature. This is a new multitasking layout mode that allows you to easily sort apps into collections that live on the side of your Mac’s or iPad’s screen. Simply click or tap on a collection to see those apps instantly explode out into your predefined layout. iPadOS 16 and MacOS Ventura also get advanced access to the all-new Weather app—another benefit of beta testing.
MacOS Ventura beta testers will also get early access to two new camera-focused Mac features. FaceTime Handoff allows you to move a FaceTime call between your iPhone and Mac with ease. And Continuity Camera allows you to use your iPhone’s excellent rear camera system as a wireless webcam for your Mac.
How can I get the public betas today?
Anyone can sign up to be a public beta tester through the Apple Beta Software Program. It’s totally free—unlike the developer beta, which requires a paid membership. An extra bonus: The Apple Beta Software Program also gives you access to the latest betas of tvOS 16, WatchOS 9, and HomePod Software 16h. Those are the upcoming operating systems for the Apple TV, Apple Watch, and HomePod.
To become a public beta tester, go here to sign up and then register your device for the Apple Beta Software Program.
While you are waiting to be approved, please remember to back up the data on your device just in case things go wrong. Then, once you are accepted into the Apple Beta Software Program, you’ll be able to download the latest public betas right through the Software Update mechanism on your iPhone, iPad, Mac, or other Apple device.