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iOS 17: Apple lets users get iPhone update and other new operating systems early

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Apple has given users access to its new software updates early – but most people are warned not to download them.

Apple revealed new updates for all of its platform this week, as part of a Worldwide Developers Conference that also saw it launch its new “Vision Pro” headset. The new software includes iOS 17, an iPhone update that brings a range of tweaks including new Messaging and FaceTime tools, as well as Mac, Watch and Apple TV updates.

A day after that launch, at least some users found that the developer beta version of that software appeared on their devices. Usually, the new update is locked behind a “profile” that only registered developers are able to install, meaning that the new update is not available to the public.

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Reports of the availability were widespread, and were confirmed by The Independent on a range of devices.

Nonetheless, almost all users are urged not to install that new beta. Brand new software updates can come with potentially disastrous bugs, and developer versions are intended to be used on separate devices that can be wiped in the case of a problem.

Early software not only comes with potential stability and performance issues, but can put the data on a device at risk, since it may still include catastrophic bugs. That is why developers are advised to use separate devices and to download the software only for development.

Usually, Apple waits until July to launch a public beta of its new software, allowing anyone who registers to access it. Even then, users are heavily warned that the update is still in development and that it may come with performance issues or worse.

It is not clear whether the change was intentional or the result of a bug. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the news.

But if the software was launched by accident, downloading it could potentially cause even more problems for users who may not be able to downgrade or receive later updates. Apple’s devices are not intended to go back to earlier operating systems, meaning that users may not be able to update until another new public update comes, which is not expected until July.

The new updates can be seen from within the Settings app, where users have the option to choose “beta updates”. There, the new updates may show as available for a given device, depending on the user.

But even when viewing that screen, users are warned that the update is an “early preview” and that it is not necessarily safe to install on a primary device. On the Mac, users are warned that they should back up their computer, and that the update should be installed on a secondary system or volume “you are prepared to erase if necessary”.