Why iOS beta versions don't belong on everyday devices

In this article you will learn why it is not advisable to install a developer beta from Apple on your everyday device and the risks involved. ☝️

Why iOS beta versions don't belong on everyday devices
Photo by Daniel Romero / Unsplash / Image

Every year, when Apple announces a new version of iOS, macOS or other operating systems, many of us are eager to try out the latest features. One way to get early access to these new features is to install a developer beta. However, while this sounds tempting, it's not advisable for 'normal' users to install these betas on their everyday devices. In this article, I will explain why this is the case and the risks involved.

What is a developer beta? 🤔

A developer beta is a pre-release version of an operating system that Apple provides exclusively for developers. These versions are intended to allow developers to prepare their apps and services for the new operating systems. While the idea of trying out new features before anyone else is tempting, you should be aware that developer betas are primarily intended for testing and development purposes and not for everyday use.

Instability and bugs 🐞

Everyday use

Developer betas are often unstable and can contain numerous bugs. These bugs can range from minor inconveniences to serious problems that severely affect the use of your device. For example, important functions such as phone calls, messages or even basic system functions may not work as usual. In the worst case scenario, your device may crash or even become unusable, which is particularly annoying if you use it on a daily basis.

Apple Beta - FAQ

Example: Banking apps

A common problem when using developer betas is incompatibility with important apps, such as banking apps. These apps are often not optimized for beta versions and can therefore crash or not start at all. For example, you may no longer have access to online banking or be unable to carry out important transactions. A concrete example from the past shows that the popular banking app N26 did not work on some beta versions of iOS. In my experience, the savings bank apps were also very often not functional. This was because the savings bank had deliberately blocked the beta versions for security reasons.

Banking app works after update to ... - Apple Community

Security risks 🛡️

Privacy and security

Developer betas are not only unstable, but can also contain security vulnerabilities. As these versions are not fully tested, they can be vulnerable to attacks. This poses a significant risk, especially when you consider that many of us store sensitive information such as passwords, bank details and personal messages on our devices.

Agreement to the Apple Terms and Conditions

According to the Apple Terms and Conditions, developers are not permitted to install betas on devices that are intended for everyday use. Apple explicitly states that betas should only be used on devices that are specifically intended for testing and development purposes. This means that installing a developer beta on a primary device is a violation of the Terms of Service and may result in legal consequences.

Apple Beta - Terms

Loss of data 🚯

Backups and recovery

An additional risk when using developer betas is the possible loss of data. As these versions are unstable, data can be lost at any time. This can be particularly problematic if you don't perform regular backups. Even if you do have a backup, restoring it is often time-consuming and tedious.

Example: Photos and important documents

Imagine losing all your photos, important documents or other personal data just because you wanted to try out a beta version. This data loss can be irreversible and wipe out many hours of work and precious memories.

Roadmap of Apple releases ⏲️

To understand why it is not advisable to install developer betas, it helps to take a look at Apple's typical release roadmap. The following graphic shows the different phases of Apple's release of new operating systems.

Apple Roadmap
  1. Spring (March - May):
    • First announcement of new features and operating systems.
    • Start of internal testing at Apple.
  2. Summer (June - August):
    • Release of the first developer betas during WWDC.
    • Ongoing updates and bug fixes based on developer feedback.
  3. Fall (September - October):
    • Release of public betas to a broader test group.
    • Final bug fixes and optimizations.
    • Official release of the new operating systems.

Conclusion 📃

In summary, it is not advisable for normal users to install developer betas from Apple on their everyday devices. The risks associated with using such pre-release versions far outweigh the benefits. From instability and bugs to security risks and possible loss of data, the use of developer betas should be reserved for those who use them for their intended purpose: app development and testing. So stay patient and wait for the official release of the new operating systems to enjoy the latest features safely and without risk.

As a developer, I can only warmly recommend:

Leave it if you don't know what you're doing!