Apple typically releases public betas of its upcoming operating systems for users that want to try out new features before they’re available to the general public. But those are usually only released after the company offers earlier previews to developers who have to pay $99 to join the Apple Developer program.
But when Apple released developer beats of iOS 17, iPadOS 17, macOS 14, and watchOS 10 this week, the company also quietly made a change: you don’t need to pay for a developer account to try them. Anybody with an Apple ID can sign into Apple’s Developer site to download and test the developer previews.
This doesn’t appear to be a mistake – the company also updated its developer membership page to show that while you still need to pay for a developer account to access all of the company’s developer tools and submit apps and games for distribution in the App Store, all you need is a free Apple ID to download “OS beta releases” for “on-device testing.”
Free accounts also get you access to Xcode developer tools, Xbode beta releases, Apple Developer Forums, and Bug reporting with Feedback Assistant.
That said, it’s still worth keeping in mind that we’re talking about beta software. There’s a chance that some features could change before the full release. And there’s a chance that you may encounter bugs or problems… so if you’re curious about the new Game Mode in macOS Sonoma, the Standby smart display feature in iOS 17, or the redesigned Lock Screen in iPadOS 17, it’s probably a good idea to install these developer betas on devices that are specifically set aside for testing rather than the devices you rely on daily.