From the second the news broke, Apple developers had access to beta versions of the upcoming iOS 8 and OS X 10.10 Yosemite. As ever, many scrambled to download and install the new software as soon as possible, but that might have been a mistake.
You probably shouldn’t install iOS 8 or OS X 10.10 unless you have a good reason for doing so, and if you have a good reason for doing so you probably won’t be reading this.
iOS Beta Beware
Last year I installed and used the iOS 7 developer preview from pretty much the day it was released, until the day I could replace it with Apple’s final revision just before the iPhone 5S went on sale. My experience with the reskinned version of iOS were interesting – things changed considerably from that first beta to the finished product we’re carrying around in our pockets right now, which was an interesting process to watch.
However I only had one iOS device – an iPhone 5 – and the bugs hardly made it worth it. Not only was the whole thing remarkably slow, likely due behind-the-scenes debugging measures, but things just didn’t behave as they were meant to. The UI glitched out on a daily basis. Random crashes became something I would expect when performing certain tasks or visiting specific websites. Perhaps most annoyingly of all, many apps refused to work – Instagram wouldn’t see my Camera Roll, Voxer couldn’t access the microphone and many apps that relied on permissions in general were broken due to shifts in the way iOS handles those things.
In short, it was a bit of a nightmare. Despite the fact that I was doing it for work purposes, I’m not keen on repeating the experience any time soon. There’s a reason they’re called developer previews, and there’s a reason many developers rush out and buy an iPod Touch at this time of year. If that’s not a good enough reason to hold off installing, there’s always the issue of registering your device with Apple.
Apple charges $99 for access to its developer program, which grants access to iOS 8 by allowing you to register your device’s unique device identification (UDID) number and use the beta unhindered. While many will find it’s possible to install the beta without registering your UDID, there’s a chance things won’t go to plan – especially considering that betas expire (there are usually five or six firmware revisions during this beta period). You’ll need to install the new beta before the old one expires, else you might be left with an expensive paperweight until the official release.
Last year’s iOS 7 beta made it difficult to downgrade once installed, though it was possible. Tracking down iOS 8 firmware files isn’t going to be difficult, but it might have serious repercussions for those of you who are not registered. If you absolutely have to download developer previews, at least use a slightly-fishy service like iModZone Downloads to register your UDID against the beta program. There’s no guarantee your phone will ever actually be approved unless you have your own developer account and do it yourself, though.
But I Absolutely Have To!
If you really want to install the iOS beta, and you’re confident your UDID has been accepted, you can do so using the following method:
- Download the iOS 8 .IPSW file for your device either from Apple’s developer website, or elsewhere.
- Backup your device.
- Connect via USB and find your device in iTunes, then option (alt) + click the Restore button, a window should open.
- Select the beta .IPSW file you downloaded and install. You can restore from your backup once the process is complete.
Argh! Can I Get Rid Of It?
We warned you, but you didn’t listen. Downgrade instructions are as follows:
- Download the iOS 7.1.1 .IPSW.
- Power down your device, hold the home button and connect to your computer. Continue to hold the home button until your iOS device says something about connecting to iTunes.
- Find your device in iTunes, then option (alt) + click the Restore button, select the iOS 7 .IPSW you just downloaded and cross your fingers.
- Restore your device from that precious backup you made.
Yosemite Can Wait, For Now
If you wanted to install Yosemite before it’s ready, you should have probably registered for the public beta program the day it was announced. The OS X 10.10 public beta signup page still exists, but it’s likely most of the invites (Apple limited it to the first one million applicants) are gone by now. Much like iOS betas, the OS X developer previews are designed for developers who pay the $99 annual fee, not the public.
Add to this the fact that many of the features – like iOS Continuity – are absent at present. The good news remains: for the first time ever Apple will be rolling out a public beta. So if you really do want to try out Yosemite before everyone else, this is probably the best way to do it.
But that’s not to say you should rely on public beta software any more than you should closed beta software. Unlike our mobile devices, desktops and laptops often take on workhorse roles. I can work around the problems on my iPhone by using my MacBook, but the opposite isn’t true. It’s not a great idea to put your main workhorse out of action, so if you’re going to install any beta, you should probably do it on another partition.
Installing Via A Partition
Whether you’re installing the public or developer preview, Apple doesn’t recommend using it as your main operating system just yet. If you’re not using a MacBook with precious little space left on your SSD, creating a partition might be a good option. The process is fairly easy too:
- Backup your Mac, just in case something goes wrong.
- Go to Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility and click on your main internal drive (at the top of the list).
- Under the Partition tab click the plus “+” button.
- Select the new partition that appears in the box and give it a size – 30GB should be enough for OS X and some software, but you can go hog wild if you want.
- Give it a name and click Apply.
Now when you go to install Yosemite make sure you click Show All Disks in the installer when asked for a location, and select the partition you created. At startup, you’ll be given the option of choosing between Mavericks and Yosemite, and all your old data, applications and settings remain in tact. When it comes to replacing Mavericks with the final version of Yosemite, just delete the partition.
They’re Not Ready Yet
This is the biggest and best reason to avoid both the iOS 8 and OS X 10.10 betas – they’re not ready. Many of the features you’re looking forward to – Continuity between devices, sending voice iMessages, making use of HealthKit and even the ability to use your old software – just aren’t there. Cult of Mac recently discovered what a nightmare Yosemite’s half-baked software compatibility can really be, especially when installed on your only machine.
If you do decide to plough onwards and install the developer previews then good luck to you, just remember to backup everything you need first and to ensure you have registered your iOS device with Apple’s developer program. Just in case you didn’t get it the first time: it’s not a good idea to replace your existing stable operating systems with unreleased betas.
Let us know if you’re running the beta, excited for the first OS X public beta or simply happy to wait a few months until Cupertino’s new toys are ready.