Apple has unleashed the iOS 11 public beta on the world, and developers are rushing to download it. You too can join in on the “fun,” if you really want. But should you? Unless you’re either a hardcore Apple fan or a software developer, you should think hard before being Apple’s guinea pig.
Here’s the fundamental issue with iOS 11, or any public beta, really: You’re volunteering to be a lab rat. If you’re a software developer, a tech analyst, or somebody for whom staying on top of what Apple’s doing is your job, then it makes perfect sense. But if you’re not getting paid and are just curious, you’ll need to be cautious. This is iOS 11’s shakedown cruise, so there are going to be piles of bugs. Your phone will crash like a ’90s SUV, your battery will be murdered in a back alley by the apps you trusted, and you will pioneer new and exciting profanities.
If all that sounds fun, or you just want to bull through and try it anyway, here’s how to do it the smart way.
– Back up your phone. Really you should be backing up your phone in the first place, since Apple makes it incredibly easy to do via iTunes or iCloud, but now more than ever, get the whole thing backed up. You’ll want to be able to perform a full system restoration if things really go to hell.
– If possible, use a backup phone, or use your iPad instead. iOS 11’s beta will work on the iPhone 5s or newer, a 5th generation iPad or newer, an iPad Mini 2 or newer, either version of the iPad Air, or a 6th-gen iPod Touch, which — amazingly — is still a thing! Remember there’s a decent chance that whatever device you use on the beta will be tougher to use, so if you rely on your phone, don’t just shove the beta on there and roll the dice.
– Sign up for the beta with Apple on the device you want to try it on. You’ll need an Apple ID, to agree that Apple isn’t responsible for destroying your phone if you manage to discover a device-wrecking bug, go to the iOS tab, and download the software. A tab called “Profile” will open, and you’ll need to hit Install until your phone reboots. Once that’s done, look for a software update, and you’ll be running the first draft of iOS 11.
– Do your part and report any bugs you find to Apple. Similarly, though, expect iOS 11 to feel off even when it’s working perfectly. While it’s been argued that an iOS update slowing down your phone is all in your imagination, a solid decade of complaints about this point disagree. Apple, like most tech companies, has always coded updates with the latest hardware it’s putting out in mind, and that can make life miserable if you don’t want a new iPhone. Plus, change can be awkward! Apple tends to make one huge decision that annoys nearly everyone, so you get to be the first to discover it!