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Here’s how to get the iOS 10 and macOS Sierra public betas

After getting our first look at iOS 10 and macOS Sierra at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference, we’ve been eager to get our hands on Apple’s latest operating systems. It’s been less than a month, and Apple has already started rolling out the public betas. As long as you’re willing to put up with potentially buggy software, now’s your opportunity to try the latest and greatest out of Cupertino.

Before you consider installing either one of these betas, you need to make sure that you have a complete backup. For your iOS device, plug into either a Windows PC or a Mac, and press the “Back Up Now” button in iTunes. As for your Mac, you’re probably best off making a bootable backup with an app like Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper. Once you’ve verified that all of your data is backed up properly, it’s safe to proceed.

Download Beta OS

Head to Apple’s beta website, and sign-up for access. You’ll need to log in with your existing AppleID, and then agree to the terms and conditions. Next, you’ll need to visit this page on your iOS device to download the beta profile. Install the new profile, and reboot your device once it’s finished.

Once you’ve rebooted, launch the Settings app. Navigate to General > Software Update, and you should see the beta update on the right-hand side. Tap “Download and Install,” and then wait for the process to finish. You’ll need to reboot once more, and you’ll be ready to roll.

Install macOS

Just like with iOS 10, you’ll need to register for the beta program by logging in with your AppleID, and agreeing to the fine print. Once that’s done, go to the “Enroll Your Devices” section of the beta website. Click on the “macOS” tab, scroll down, and click the “Redeem Code” button. This will launch the App Store, and begin the download.

Once it’s finished downloading, the installation app will automatically launch. If you’re ready to make the jump, you can simply follow the on-screen prompts to upgrade to macOS Sierra. But if you need some time, don’t hesitate to simply quit out of the app, and come back later. The installer is titled “Install macOS Sierra Public Beta,” and it will be sitting in your Applications folder.

As with any unfinished software, there are bound to be bugs, crashes, and some wonkiness all around. If you only have a single device, you shouldn’t move to the unstable version. But if you have some spare time and an extra device (or partition) lying around, it can be fun to get a sneak peek. If all of that sounds peachy-keen to you, let’s look at what the updates have to offer.

First off, we have iOS. The Messages app has been overhauled with stickers and drawing tools, it’s easier to act on notifications, smart home devices can be controlled with the new Home app, Apple Pay works on the web, and third-party apps can finally work properly with Siri. There’s no single big change here, but Apple is making a handful of smart improvements that will make long-time iOS users very happy.

On the macOS side, you’ll see a very similar group of small changes that make the overall experience better. The addition of Siri is probably the single largest user-facing feature, but that’s not all Apple has up its sleeve. For those of us with tiny SSDs, the Optimized Storage feature will be a game changer. Old, unused files can be automatically moved to the cloud to help clear out space. And my personal favorite? The Universal Clipboard allows you to copy text and multimedia files from your Mac to your iOS device. That feature alone is worth the upgrade in my eyes.

Even if you have no interest whatsoever in participating in the betas, you’ll still receive all of those features and many more when iOS 10 and macOS Sierra release for free later this year.

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