Should you use the iOS 7 beta?

A reader emailed me this past week to ask if she should use one of the various resources in order to start using the iOS 7 beta. I have her my quick advice, but I thought it might be worth sharing here in a little more detail.

There are two legitimate ways to gain access to iOS 7. One—the route I took—is to become a registered developer with Apple and pay the $99 annual fee that gets you access to all developer tools, including betas of new iOS versions. Now, I didn’t pay the $99 fee just to get access to the iOS 7 beta. I’ve been a registered developer for a while now and paid the fee a while back so I could try a few things. I’ve messed around with coding for iOS for a while just as a hobby, and I’ve come to learn that I’m not going to be releasing any apps any time soon. Coding has changed a lot since I learned to program in BASIC back in the 1980s. I’m way behind the learning curve.

The other route is to sign on with a service that charges you a small fee so that your iOS device becomes a registered developer device with Apple. (Google will help you find these. I recommend finding an article at a site like Gizmodo and hope that the folks there have weeded out the scams for you.)

So, if you’ve decided that you’re willing to start off down one of these paths, should you do it? My answer is “probably not.” Here’s why.

  • When you install iOS 7 beta on your device, it’s very much like restoring the device to the original factory settings. Your apps, your music, they all get wiped out. Even when you install a new beta version, apps and music you downloaded are wiped out. Playlists? Those are gone too.
  • You will have to update the iOS 7 beta as new versions are released because Apple puts an expiration date on the beta versions. If you don’t update before the expiration date, your device becomes bricked.
  • It’s beta software. It can crash, make it necessary to reset your iPhone, and apps may not work well with it.

Unlike many people, I use my iPhone mostly as a phone. The only non-Apple app I use regularly is RunKeeper. So, when I update the beta software and RunKeeper gets wiped out, it’s not like I’m having to reinstall 40 apps that I rely on for running my life. Indeed, I have specifically not put the iOS 7 beta on my iPad for this very reason. Ditto with installing OS X Mavericks on any of my Macs. (I don’t know if the wiping takes place on the Mac side, but I am not going to even chance it.)

Now, if you are like me an use your device for a couple of purposes, then you might not be too inconvenienced by dealing with the aftermath of a new iOS 7 beta installation. Because iOS 7 will be released sometime this autumn (my money says late October or November), the wait is not too much longer.

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