It's pretty clear that iOS 17 is going to make an appearance this coming Monday (June 5) during Apple's WWDC 2023 event. But how soon after Apple executives leave the stage will we be able to get our hands on the new software for our iPhones?
The answer to that question depends on who you are.
iOS developers — the folks who build the apps that go on your iPhone — won't have to wait very long for their version of the iOS 17 beta. Apple typically releases a developer beta for its new operating software on the same day as the WWDC keynote. That means come Monday, an early version of iOS 17 should be in the hands of developers.
For the rest of the public, the wait could be a little bit longer. The full release of iOS 17 is expected to land in the fall, shortly before Apple rolls out its new iPhone 15 models. But long before then, an iOS 17 public beta will appear, giving people willing to try out the software their first taste of some of its new features.
Additions via iOS 17 are rumored to include everything from a new journaling app to overhauls for the Health and Wallet apps. Command Center could get its own redesign, too, and there's talk of Apple adding active widgets that let you interact with them on your home and lock screens. We may even see a new feature that converts iPhones into smart screens when the phone is not in use.
So when can we expect an iOS 17 public beta with all those possible enhancements for us to play around with? A quick glance at Apple's track record for iOS releases gives us a pretty good clue.
iOS public beta release history
Apple started offering public betas for iOS in 2015 with the debut of iOS 9. (You can also get public betas for macOS, watchOS and now iPadOS since Apple split up the software that runs on its phones and tablets.) Typically, Apple's modus operandi has been to release a developer beta of its software the same day as the WWDC keynote, with the public beta following some time later.
Over the years, the window between developer and public beta releases has narrowed. For iOS 9, a full month elapsed after that year's WWDC before iOS 9's public beta arrived. In subsequent years, it's been anywhere from two and a half weeks to just over three weeks between beta releases. A noteable exception was last year's iOS 16 beta program where the public beta arrived more than a month after the first developer release.
|Developer beta release date
|Public beta release date
|Final release date
|June 6, 2022
|July 11, 2022
|Sept. 12, 2022
|June 7, 2021
|June 30, 2021
|Sept. 20, 2021
|June 22, 2020
|July 9, 2020
|Sept. 16, 2020
|June 3, 2019
|June 24, 2019
|Sept. 19, 2019
|June 4, 2018
|June 25, 2018
|Sept. 17, 2018
|June 5, 2017
|June 26, 2017
|Sept. 19, 2017
|June 13, 2016
|July 7, 2016
|Sept 13, 2016
|June 8, 2015
|July 9 2016
|Sept. 16, 2016
For iOS 17, a MacRumors report places the likely release date for the public beta in July, though there's no specific source cited for that time frame. Using Apple's recent three week-window, we'd imagine that the earliest an iOS 17 public beta would appear would be the final week of June.
Apple's Beta Software program
If you're interested in trying out the iOS 17 beta, you don't have to wait for Apple to announce a date for the software's release. Assuming you're not a member of Apple's $99/year developer program, you can sign up for any public betas through Apple's Beta Software program.
To register for iOS 17, head to the Apple Beta Software program website in a browser on your iPhone. You'll be prompted to sign in using your Apple ID. Once you've registered, you'll be able to download the iOS 17 public beta when it's released.
Of course, that assumes your iPhone will be compatible with iOS 17. According to the latest rumors about iOS 17 supported devices, the update should at least work on the iPhone Xs or later, with the iPhone X and iPhone 8 models reportedly being dropped from this version.
A few caveats about public betas if iOS 17 will be the first time you're trying out early release software from Apple — while Apple's public beta releases are usually fairly stable, you should still proceed with caution. Public betas can contain bugs and not all of your apps may work as expected with a beta version of iOS. Some betas are also known to put a hit on your phone's battery life.
For that reason, we recommend loading betas only on devices you don't rely on for everyday work — a spare iPhone would be ideal if you have one. Before you download any public beta though, you should back up your iPhone with an archived backup in case you need to reinstall your old software.
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Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.