If you can’t wait to get your hands on Apple’s latest operating systems, today is 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, will be released this fall for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac.
Apple is releasing early preview versions of its operating systems as part of its Apple Beta Software Program† This program allows customers to get their hands on early versions of future software so that they can try it out early and send any bug reports and other feedback to the company. Apple’s public betas complement developer betas, which tend to be more bugged and target third-party app makers.
Apple unveiled its new operating systems at the WWDC conference last month, but today’s launch marks the first time the general public can get their hands on the software.
Yes, but do I need to install them?
Even if you’re eager to get Apple’s latest features months before the company releases them to the masses, think twice before downloading and installing public betas.
That’s because betas are inherently unfinished and buggy. That’s why there’s a beta testing period in the first place – the goal is to find out 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 fix problems if they go wrong – and they can assign devices to running betas. But public beta testers may not be so technically astute. While the public betas are usually a generation or two behind the latest developer beta, and thus are more stable, running a beta on your device can have unexpected consequences, such as crashes, lost data, or even issues that cause a device to fail. is totally unusable.
While instances where this happens are relatively rare, it’s a risk beta testers have to assume. The good news is, Apple says public beta testing of its software won’t void the device’s warranty. Still, you should always backup all sensitive and important data before ever installing a beta. This way you can recover that data if a bug in the beta wipes your files.
What do I get as a public beta tester?
The main benefit of being a public beta tester is that you get access to the latest operating systems and all of their features well before the general public does.
For iOS 16, iPadOS 16 and MacOS Ventura, this means you can undo and edit messages sent with iMessage, schedule and undo emails in the Mail app, access the new iCloud Shared Photo Library, Safari Passkey logins, select and use Live Text in videos, plan routes with multiple stops in Maps, and secure your device behind the all-new Lockdown Mode.
And those are just the features that the three operating systems have in common. For iOS 16 beta testers, you 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 also get access to Apple’s long-awaited Multitasking feature from Stage Manager† This is a new multitasking layout mode that makes it easy to sort apps into collections that sit next to your Mac or iPad screen. Just click or tap on a collection to instantly see those apps explode in 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-centric Mac features. With FaceTime Handoff, you can easily move a FaceTime call between your iPhone and Mac. And with Continuity Camera, you can 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 is completely free, unlike the developer beta, which requires a paid membership. An added 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 wait to be approved, don’t forget to backup the data on your device in case something goes wrong. Once accepted into the Apple Beta Software Program, you can download the latest public betas through the Software Update mechanism on your iPhone, iPad, Mac, or other Apple device.