iPhone users won't be able to install iOS 17 Developer Beta version for free

Feb 20, 2023

Apple released iOS 16.4 Beta 1 a few days ago. It brought some new features, and also changed the way how users can participate in the iOS Beta Program.

iPhone users won't be able to install iOS 17 Developer Beta version for free
Up until now, users had a way to install Developer Betas on their iPhone (and iPad), with the help of a configuration profile. The problem is, this wasn't exactly the official way to do it. Websites and individuals distributed the Developer profile (a downloadable file), which users could download, and install on their Apple devices to gain access to iOS Developer Beta.

The main benefit of the Developer program is to submit your app to the App Store, where it's hosted. This isn't free, Apple charges a fee of $99 per year for it. This also gives developers access to some other benefits, including access to the Apple Beta Developer Program. The idea is to provide them early access to the latest version of iOS, so they can make changes to their app, possibly add new features using the latest APIs, and more importantly to ensure that their app is compatible with the new version of the operating system.

Thousands of users downloaded iOS beta configuration profiles to try out the new iteration of iOS when it is announced every year. This meant Apple was losing out on the fee that it charged Developers, it didn't want people accessing the Dev Beta for free. The tech giant took action on a popular website called Betaprofiles last year. The owner of the site took down the portal to avoid a legal battle with Apple. Other sites followed suit, though it is unclear if they did it as a precautionary measure or after being warned by the Cupertino company. Apple didn't stop there, it slapped several DMCA notices on Twitter forcing the social network to take down Tweets that contained links to IPSW (iPhone Software) files.

The next step that Apple took to restrict people from accessing the iOS Developer Beta program was to remove support for beta configuration profiles, which is happened last week when iOS 16.4 Beta was released. This was the final blow. If you have a valid Apple Developer subscription, you are not affected by this change. But no user is going to pay $99 a year just to test beta versions of iOS.

iOS Public Beta will remain free

The important thing to note is that iOS Public Beta will remain free. Normally, when a minor iOS developer beta is released, for example iOS 16.4 Beta 1, the public beta which by the way is identical to the dev build, is released a day or two later, or sometimes a week later. That's not particularly bad, right?

There is a difference, though. Public Beta releases for major updates like iOS 16 to iOS 17, etc., come out a month later than Dev Betas, so bug reports and feedback from users will also be delayed, and any fixes for issues will also likely by delayed, not to mention app compatibility issues. People don't just download and install the Dev Betas on their Macs, iPhones and iPads to experience the cutting edge features in iOS, they also provide valuable feedback to the company. This in turn helps Apple fix bugs in iOS, or improve the experience, before the update rolls out to the stable channel.

The final release may still have bugs, yes it happens, but think about it, fewer users being able to access the Dev Beta means fewer testers. This further reduces the possibility of finding bugs in various use case scenarios, there is a chance some may not be caught. If a bug from a public beta makes its way to the stable channel, it could also add some pressure on Apple to release a hotfix, or a minor update that wasn't planned. Whose fault is that now? Apple will only have itself to blame if that happens.

iPhone users won't be able to install iOS 17 Developer Beta version for free

The main question is, when does this change come into effect? What if you have a Dev Configuration Profile installed, and are on iOS 16.4 Beta 1? Will users be able to Beta 2? We can't say that for sure, but it's pretty clear what Apple's plan is for the long term. iPhone users won't be able to install iOS 17 Developer Beta version for free, and the same goes for future updates beyond that.

Whatever the case may be, users won't be stuck on a Dev Beta version forever. The new opt-in settings in iOS 16.4 allows you to choose between the Dev Beta and Public Beta. So you can switch over to the latter quite easily on your iPhone, or even opt-out of betas completely, should you want to. That's actually something good for a change, as you no longer have to scour the internet looking for a beta profile to download.

Speaking of which, just because Apple has removed the option of using beta profiles doesn't spell the end of unofficial ways to try the test builds. As Macrumors points out, it may be possible to install an IPSW (iPhone Software) file to participate in the Dev Beta program, but it is unclear whether this could actually work, since Apple requires users to be signed in with a Developer ID.

There is a plus side to this, Developer Beta versions often have bugs which could impact the daily usage of an iPhone. So removing access to these maybe good for casual users who are overenthusiastic and install it on their primary device. Installing test versions as your daily driver is not a good idea because bugs in the software could prevent some features from working, or in rare scenarios even brick the mobile.

iPhone users won't be able to install iOS 17 Developer Beta version for free
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iPhone users won't be able to install iOS 17 Developer Beta version for free
Apple won't let iPhone users install iOS 17 Developer Beta version for free. How will this affect the public beta?
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  1. Anonymous said on February 20, 2023 at 12:14 pm

    I do think that some people would be ready to pay 99 USD just to have a newer iOS version running than anybody else

    1. Jek Porkins said on February 20, 2023 at 8:03 pm

      Don’t underestimate the Apple cultists. They sleep for weeks in tents in front of the store to stay in line, sell their kidneys for a device.

  2. John G. said on February 20, 2023 at 12:09 pm

    It’s a beta version and it’s non free. Amazing. Thanks @Ashwin for the article! :]

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