It’s time to try out all the new features and tweaks Apple has been cooking up back in its Cupertino labs—if you’re a developer, that is. While Apple is now previewing the latest and greatest versions of iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS as betas, you can only (officially) access them if you’re paying Apple $99 a year to partake in its developer program.
It’s a little trickier than it used to be to get yourself enrolled in the developer betas if you’re not a developer, but it’s still possible. The usual caveats apply, though. First off, these are early, early versions of Apple’s newest operating systems, a fact Apple highlights on its developer site:
Second, you’ll be downloading the various beta profiles (or .IPSW firmwares) from a third-party site. That’s not a thing you’ll normally want to do, for security’s sake. I’m not going to make a big stink about it, though, because if you’re not bothered by your device potentially bricking from an early operating system beta, you probably don’t care how you’re getting these files. (I’m hoping you aren’t planning to install iOS 13 on your primary smartphone, but I’m not going to stop you, either.)
macOS Catalina / iOS 13 / iPadOS 13
We’ll start with macOS Catalina, because you currently need to install it first before you can slap iOS 13 on your iPad or iPhone. (A beta profile for iOS devices wasn’t available as of this article’s writing, so we have to do things the old-fashioned way.)
Install that on your Mac, which is a pretty straightforward process. Once you’re done, you’ll be immediately asked if you would like to start downloading macOS 10.15, otherwise known as macOS Catalina.
The download and installation process should take a bit of time, but it’s all routine. Once you’re done and you’re up in your brand-new version of macOS Catalina, there’s one more step you’ll want to take. Some iOS 13 users have reported that you might also need the latest beta of Xcode on your system before you can install iOS 13 on your device. (For safety’s sake, I went through this process without testing to see if it was necessary, so feel free to try installing iOS 13 without it if you want.)
Installing the Xcode 11 beta is simple. To start, grab it from Apple’s page. You’ll have to sign in with your Apple ID, but you won’t need a developer account to download and install the beta. (The archive you download took my system some time to expand, FYI.)
When you’re ready to get crackin’ with iOS 13, I don’t believe you even have to open up the beta version of Xcode first, but you can do that as a side step if you’re feeling tentative. Go find your iPad or iPhone, grab your charging cable, get whatever dongles you need to use to connect it to your Mac (if applicable), and plug it in.
Since this is macOS Catalina—killer of iTunes—you’ll now need to pull up Finder to access your connected device.
Once you’ve done that, go back to your browser and revisit betaprofiles.com. You’ll now want to click on the iOS 13 IPSW link—again, a simple beta profile for your device wasn’t available when I wrote this article—and grab the correct file for your specific device. If you can’t remember what generation of iPad you have, for example, you can always pull up Settings > General > About, and then type your device’s “Model Number” into your favorite search engine to figure out exactly what it is.
If you’re finding that the betaprofiles is taking way too long to download your .IPSW file, you can always use another site to grab the same file—I like udid.in and iosbetas.org, personally. (The latter allows you to download it directly from Apple, too, which makes me feel a lot better.)
Once you’ve downloaded the correct .IPSW firmware file to your Mac, pull up Finder again. You should still be looking at your connected device but, if not, click over to that. Before you get started with the iOS 13 update, you’ll need to disable “Find My” on your device. As well, now is a great time to make a local backup of your device in case everything goes horribly wrong. Click on “This Computer” and select “Encrypt local backup,” then click on “Back Up Now” to do that.
(I also recommend having a recent iCloud backup of your device, as that makes it easy to set up your device with all your apps and settings once you’ve installed iOS 13.)
Once you’re ready, hold down the Option key on your keyboard, click on Restore iPhone/iPad, and then go find the .IPSW file you downloaded. Get ready for some fun, as your device will do the usual rebooting-and-updating process to install iOS 13.
You’ll then go through the standard iOS setup process, which will also include asking if you’d like to set up your device using other nearby Apple devices—a nice little timesaver—as well as whether you’d like to restore from the recent iCloud backup I hope you made.
Compared to the process it took to get macOS Catalina and iOS 13 installed, this is going to feel trivial. Pull up your iPad or iPhone, fire up the Safari browser you’ve long since forgotten about, and navigate over to betaprofiles. Click on the link for the watchOS 6 beta profile and install that on your device. It’s as easy as that. You’ll now be able to use the normal update mechanism in the Watch app to download and install watchOS 6.
There’s one caveat to this process, however. I haven’t installed iOS 13 on my iPhone, but I did install watchOS 6 on my Apple Watch. Now, I get semi-frequent notifications that I need to update my Apple Watch to the latest version of watchOS—even though it’s running that—which I suspect has to do with the fact that my iPhone is still on iOS 12. It’s not a huge annoyance, and you can easily ignore the occasional prompt, but it might be enough to get you to wait until the full public betas for all of Apple’s operating systems drop later this month / early next month.
I don’t have an Apple TV, so I haven’t done this process myself. However, betaprofiles has a great, quick guide containing everything you need to know about getting the tvOS 13 beta on your device:
- Open the Settings app and move to General – Privacy – Send Apple TV Analytics.
- When you have Share Apple TV Analytics selected, don’t click on it. Instead, press the Play/Pause button on the remote and it will open the Add Profile menu, press Play/Pause button again on this option.
- n the text field that pops up, type http://bit.ly/tvos_13 (This is a short link, it’s completely safe), then click Done and select Install.
- When you are prompted to reboot do so.
- The software should then appear in Settings – System – Software Update. Additionally, you can still download the file to your computer for manual installation.
If you want to go the manual route—installing the update via Xcode—Apple has great instructions on its website:
- Download the tvOS beta software configuration profile for the new Apple TV from the download page on your Mac.
- Make sure you are running the latest version of Xcode 10 or later on your Mac as well as macOS 10.13.4 or later.
- Check that your Apple TV is plugged in and turned on.
- Connect your Apple TV and Mac to the same network.
- In Xcode, choose Window > Devices and Simulators, then in the window that appears, click Devices.
- On Apple TV, open Settings, then choose Remotes and Devices > Remote App and Devices. Apple TV searches for possible pairing devices.
- In Xcode, select your Apple TV in the left column under Discovered. The status of the Apple TV connection request appears in the detail area.
- Enter the verification code displayed on Apple TV and click Connect. Xcode pairs with Apple TV and a network icon appears next to your Apple TV in the left column.
- Make sure your Mac is running the latest version of Apple Configurator.
- Open Apple Configurator.
- To set up an Apple TV for the first time, click Prepare and follow the onscreen instructions. To add profiles for an Apple TV that you’ve previously set up, click Add, then select Profiles. You can also drag a profile from the Finder and drop it on the icon of your Apple TV.