It wasn't a mistake -- Apple betas are now free

Posted:
in General Discussion
Apple has quietly updated its developer program with a free tier that includes access to developer betas, but we still can't recommend installing beta software.

Developers only need a free Apple ID to access betas
Developers only need a free Apple ID to access betas

Anyone interested in testing beta releases of Apple Software had two options -- wait for public betas in July or pay $99 per year for early developer access. That changed with iOS 17 and the other 2023 releases, though Apple hasn't made any official announcement.

Most people would be perfectly fine with waiting for public beta access, especially since those versions tend to be more stable than initial developer betas. However, a niche crowd has happily paid the $99 for early access, this writer included.

Now, Apple has created a free tier for the Developer Program. It includes access to Xcode tools, Xcode betas, on-device testing, Developer Forums, bug reporting via Feedback Assistant, and developer OS beta releases.

The paid tier, still $99 per year, includes everything else, including Apple support with code building and app distribution on the App Store. Apple provides a small statement on its developer website about who should enroll as a developer.
You can learn how to develop apps for Apple platforms for free without enrolling. With just an Apple ID, you can access Xcode, software downloads, documentation, sample code, forums, and Feedback Assistant, as well as test your apps on devices. If you don't already have an Apple ID, you can create one now. To distribute apps, join the Apple Developer Program.
Clearly, Apple wants users interested in learning development to not be driven away by the $99 per year cost. This doubles as a boon for those of us who just want to play on the less stable developer betas, be it for work or personal use.

"On-device testing" seems to imply you'll be able to build apps in Xcode and run them on your testing device. That's great for those who still use this as a path for side-loading apps for game emulation.

Users began reporting that the developer beta was available on their device, despite not being a part of the developer program. AppleInsider wrote it off as a mistake since Apple hadn't said anything publicly.

A tweet from user @iSWUpdates provided a link to Apple's documentation showing the new program details. A chart showing the free and paid developer tiers can be found on Apple's developer portal.

Wait for the public betas anyway

Apple is still advertising its public beta program, which tends to release betas a day or more after the developer one goes out -- once the public program starts in July anyway. So, both betas will likely continue as normal, just with both free to access and one arriving sooner with more risks than the other.

AppleInsider and Apple does not recommend installing beta software on primary machines. Data loss and system failure are possible.

Though, with developer betas easier to access than ever, it seems Apple is confident in their stability. However, betas are still betas no matter how stable, and things break -- especially third-party apps. So proceed at your own risk.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 16
    It's not a goof; it's a feature. :)
    darkvaderwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 16
    Looks like an option for more of us to nag Apple about their bugs via Feedback Assistant. 
    StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 16
    XedXed Posts: 2,677member
    What do you mean "a mistake"? As I pointed out yesterday this has been the case for several years now.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 16
    zeus423zeus423 Posts: 251member
    I had to read the headline twice because the first time I saw, "Apple beats are now free"! Wishful thinking, I guess.
    appleinsideruserwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 16
    XedXed Posts: 2,677member
    zeus423 said:
    I had to read the headline twice because the first time I saw, "Apple beats are now free"! Wishful thinking, I guess.
    They are. You don't even have to wait for the public betas, you merely need a free developer account to install them.
  • Reply 6 of 16
    Anilu_777Anilu_777 Posts: 553member
    AI seems to be paraphrasing  JerryRigEverything - “betas are still betas no matter how stable, and things break -- especially third-party apps“
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 16
    bestkeptsecretbestkeptsecret Posts: 4,270member
    Xed said:
    zeus423 said:
    I had to read the headline twice because the first time I saw, "Apple beats are now free"! Wishful thinking, I guess.
    They are. You don't even have to wait for the public betas, you merely need a free developer account to install them.
    @zeus423 had read it as "Apple BEATS are now free", like the headphones.
    darkvadermuthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 16
    XedXed Posts: 2,677member
    Xed said:
    zeus423 said:
    I had to read the headline twice because the first time I saw, "Apple beats are now free"! Wishful thinking, I guess.
    They are. You don't even have to wait for the public betas, you merely need a free developer account to install them.
    @zeus423 had read it as "Apple BEATS are now free", like the headphones.
    Ah. Thank you.
    appleinsideruserwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 16
    We can't recommend you install the new developer beta.  LOL Because we did and we want to make a lot of videos and sell lots of ads!  Seriously, I've been downloading developer betas on all of my devices for as long as they have offered them.  I used to get them in shady ways, but I've gotten older so I don't mind tossing Apple $99 for the license, although I will be moving to the free tier!  These betas are almost as good as the real thing.  The real thing will still have bugs and oddities.  I used to access work via Windows through Parallels.  I don't use Parallels anymore so I can't say how it works now, but they used to be notorious for breaking after every new update.  I'd tell myself don't update until you know Parallels will work.  LOL but I kind of like the challenge of looking for fixes so I'd upgrade and of course it would break.  It would be a mad dash to find a solution before I had to be back at work.  

    Download the betas and live a little.  
    appleinsideruserdarkvader
  • Reply 10 of 16
    XedXed Posts: 2,677member
    whodatkat said:
    We can't recommend you install the new developer beta.  LOL Because we did and we want to make a lot of videos and sell lots of ads!  Seriously, I've been downloading developer betas on all of my devices for as long as they have offered them.  I used to get them in shady ways, but I've gotten older so I don't mind tossing Apple $99 for the license, although I will be moving to the free tier!  These betas are almost as good as the real thing.  The real thing will still have bugs and oddities.  I used to access work via Windows through Parallels.  I don't use Parallels anymore so I can't say how it works now, but they used to be notorious for breaking after every new update.  I'd tell myself don't update until you know Parallels will work.  LOL but I kind of like the challenge of looking for fixes so I'd upgrade and of course it would break.  It would be a mad dash to find a solution before I had to be back at work.  

    Download the betas and live a little.  
    I used to pay $500 for access to the developer account specifically for the betas, but you also got an Apple t-shirt and discs in the mail when you signed up. This was back when they charged you $129 for the major macOS update that came out every 2–3 years. Oh how things have changed for the better in 2 decades.
    appleinsideruserdewmeapplguydarkvaderwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 16
    Fidonet127Fidonet127 Posts: 515member
    They have always had an unofficial free tier. I’ve never paid. Last year I was still downloading the Xcode betas. 
    darkvaderwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 16

    As someone who has been ponying up the $99 for early access, I'm stoked! Access to Xcode tools, betas, and on-device testing -- all for free? It's like Christmas in June!

    But you're right, caution is key. It's easy to get excited about early access, but the inherent instability of beta versions is something to consider. I'd still advise most people to stick with the public betas in July, unless they've got a specific need or a taste for living on the edge.

    appleinsideruserwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 16
    To get the Mac OS Sonoma simply go to system settings-General-Software Update click on info symbol on the right of the listed beta and select MacOS Sonoma Developer Beta to download
    *assuming you have already a public beta profile installed for MAC OS 13
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 16
    irnchrizirnchriz Posts: 1,617member
    Installed the betas on my iPhone 14 Pro Max, iPad Pro M1, Apple Watch Ultra MacBook Pro M1 and Apple TV.  As far as Betas go these are pretty damn stable, likely because there's not really a lot of new stuff this year.
    edited June 2023 darkvaderwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 16
    XedXed Posts: 2,677member
    They have always had an unofficial free tier. I’ve never paid. Last year I was still downloading the Xcode betas. 
    Yeah but it's only been about 4–5 years that you could get the downloads of the betas without paying the $99/year. I'm not sure how Xcode fell into that.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 16
    darkvaderdarkvader Posts: 1,146member
    If you're going to install a beta on your primary iDevices, this is the one to install.  There's almost nothing new in it, I barely notice the difference between my two primary iPhones, one on 16 and one on 17.  It's a really boring update.

    I'm probably going to stick Mac OS XIV on my MacBook Air that is my current primary onsite machine.  I mean, it's not like I don't have spares in case it doesn't work well, and that's actually my least important Mac that will run it without an OpenCore Patcher that hasn't been released yet. 

    New Mac OS versions ALWAYS break 3rd party apps, it's generally a good idea to wait 6 months to a year AFTER the official release and do some pretty extensive testing before you update Macs that have critical apps.  And I'm in a "name and shame" mood, so I'm going to call out MacPractice by name today.  Gen 15 claimed to work on Apple Silicon servers, and claimed it was ready for Mac OS XIII.  It's VERY broken.  DO NOT install MacPractice Server on anything but Intel hardware, and DO NOT install anything later than Mac OS XII on it.
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