How To Download And Install Apple's iOS 7 Beta

About this time every year, Apple gives a gift to mobile developers: the newest version of iOS. Developers then have most of the summer to play with the beta version and ready their apps for the full release of the operating system when the new iPhone is launched later in the year.

This year Apple has announced iOS 7—and it is a dramatic new release of Apple’s core mobile operating system with a new look and a treasure trove of new functions.

How do you get started with iOS 7? Below are the basics of what you will need to know to load the new iOS and get started building apps.

(See also: How To Downgrade Back To iOS 6 From iOS 7 Without Bricking Your iPhone)

Before Downloading The iOS 7 Beta

Before you get started, here are the items you should have on hand:

  • An iOS developer account. These cost $99 a year through Apple’s website.
  • A development device that will be used only for iOS 7. It is not recommended to use your own personal device, as beta versions of operating systems can be buggy and crash. If you're willing to take the chance of bricking the phone you use every day, that's up to you. iOS 7 currently supports iPhone 5 (CDMA and GSM and global GSM), iPhone 4S, iPhone 4 (GSM, GMS Rev A and CDMA) and iPod Touch 5th Generation.
  • The identifier for your device. For instance, an AT&T iPhone identifier is A1428. A Verizon iPhone is A1429. You will need this to know which version of iOS 7 beta to download.
  • Your device’s Unique Identifier (UDID). You will need to register your developer device in the iOS Development Center. You will not be able to complete the iOS 7 beta installation without authenticating the device.
  • A backup of your device on iTunes. Just in case the device crashes and loses your data and you have to start from scratch, you can grab the backup from iTunes.

Note: Once you install iOS 7 beta, you cannot downgrade (at least not without great difficulty). So you better be willing to live with a beta version of the operating system on your device throughout the summer until the Gold Edition is released shortly before the launch of the new iPhone. 

Another Note: Be warned, a couple developers have reported problems activating their devices after installing iOS 7. Let us know if you have had that same problem and how you troubleshoot it.

Preparing For The iOS 7 Beta

A few things to note before you download the .dmg file of iOS 7:

  • Have the most current version of iTunes downloaded and ready.
  • Upgrade your Mac to Mac OS X Mountain Lion version 10.8.3 (there is a good chance you are running 10.8.2). You will need this for the Xcode Developer Preview later.
  • Charge your battery. Nothing is worse than borking a OS download in the middle because you underestimated battery life.

Download And Install

  1. On your Mac, go to the iOS Development Center and download the appropriate version of the iOS 7 beta. This will take a few minutes.
  2. Open the .dmg file and find the .ipsw file. It should be the only one there in your download file of iOS 7, so it is impossible to miss.
  3. Connect your developer device to your computer and launch iTunes.
  4. Click on the iPhone button in iTunes. This will bring up your stats (such as memory use and serial numbers). Go ahead and back up your phone to iTunes now if you haven’t done it already.
  5. Press the option button when restoring in iTunes. A window will open where you can choose the iOS 7 beta .ipsw file. Download it (which will take about 10 minutes).
  6. Wait patiently.

That is how you get the iOS 7 beta. You will likely notice that it is kind of slow, eats your battery a little quicker than you are used to (especially on older devices) and generally buggy. This is why you don’t put beta operating systems on your personal devices. If you discover you've made a huge mistake and need to revert your iPhone to iOS 6, check out our instructions here.

(See also: iOS 7 Development: Everything You Need To Know To Get Started)