iOS 11 public beta: should you download it?

iOS 11 is now available in public beta, meaning you can now get it, assuming you have one of the devices on this list.

But should you? iOS 11 comes with lots of new features and improvements, which we’ll give an overview of below, but it’s also still in beta, which means there are various potential problems to be aware of.

There’s no definitive answer as to whether you should get the iOS 11 public beta or not, but to help you make up your own mind here’s what you need to know.

It’s packed full of features

iOS 11 is one of the biggest software updates Apple has made in years, so we wouldn’t blame you if you’re itching to get your hands on it.

It’s set to turn the iPad into a productivity powerhouse, with the addition of a Mac-like dock and the ability to drag and drop files, images, text and more between apps.

It also adds new keyboard shortcuts and a Files app, while iMessages will use iCloud to seamlessly sync across devices, peer-to-peer payments will be possible with Apple Pay, Siri is getting smarter and the Control Center has been revamped.

And those are just the headline features. You can head over to our iOS 11 guide for a more in-depth rundown, or just download the beta to try it out for yourself – assuming you’re okay with the things below.

It’s going to be buggy

In its very nature the iOS 11 public beta will have bugs – if Apple was confident that it was bug free it wouldn’t be a beta. In fact, the company urges users only to download the iOS 11 public beta onto a secondary device.

We’ve not encountered any major problems yet, but we have no doubt that they’re out there and they could take any number of different forms, including reduced battery life, things not working as expected or at all, slow performance, crashes and even lost data.

There’s not much news yet on issues people have faced with the public beta, but decreased battery life was a regularly reported problem on the earlier iOS 11 developer betas, along with buggy 3D Touch.

So, if you want the smooth experience you’ve probably come to expect from iOS, the public beta isn’t for you.

Your apps might not all be compatible

Along similar lines, not all of your apps will necessarily work properly with the iOS 11 beta. That’s true of any iOS beta, but more than ever with this one, as Apple is removing support for 32-bit apps with iOS 11.

That means many apps will need to be updated by their developers in order to keep on functioning. A lot already will have been, especially big-name ones, but many others haven’t, and these ones flat out won’t launch if you’re running iOS 11 on your device.

Beyond that, the fact that the iOS 11 public beta is a buggy, unfinished piece of software means that even apps that should work won’t necessarily, or maybe more crash-happy than normal.

You need to enrol

Unlike most iOS updates, which are automatically pushed to your device, you need to jump through a few extra hoops to get the iOS 11 public beta.

Assuming you haven’t taken part in an iOS beta before, you’ll need to head to Apple’s beta website from your iDevice, sign in to your account and follow the onscreen instructions.

You really should back up your device

Another hoop, and although this one isn’t essential we strongly recommend it. Given the unstable nature of the iOS 11 public beta you really should back up your iPhone or iPad before downloading it.

This isn’t hard to do, and is something you should be in the habit of doing anyway, but it’s one more hurdle to pass.

It’s reversible

By this point you’ll have read plenty of reasons not to download the iOS 11 public beta, as exciting as the new features might be, but here’s one more reason you might want to – you can always roll back to the last stable release by restoring your device from a backup (just make sure you create one before downloading the beta!)

Installing the iOS 11 public beta also won’t void your warranty. So, although it shouldn’t affect the hardware anyway, or affect the software in any irreversible way, you will still be able to get your device repaired under warranty if it does develop problems.

The stable iOS 11 release is months away

And here’s one last reason you might want it, especially if you’re impatient. The final release of iOS 11 is coming this year, but not for a few months yet. 

It’s landing in the Fall, probably around the end of September, so if you need a new iOS release to get you through summer you might as well grab the beta.

James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to, and and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.