This story is part of WWDC 2021. All the latest coverage from Apple’s annual developers conference.
The first public beta of iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 is here. This is the software that will run on millions of iPhones and iPads when Apple releases the final version this fall. But you don’t have to wait that long to sign up for the iOS 15 beta and install it. Yes, that will give you an early look at new features like Live Text, FaceTime on Android and new privacy features. But if you’re on the fence, let me offer you some advice: Wait.
Yes, the installation process only takes a few taps on your iPhone’s screen. And, yes, you can go back to iOS 14 at any time, but before you jump on the iOS 15 beta train, there are some important things to know — especially if you have “only” one iPhone or iPad.
Here’s what gives me pause: Bugs. Poor battery life. Potentially broken apps. You’re going to experience one or more of those factors while the beta program runs its course. If you’re determined to install iOS 15 on your primary Apple device, here’s what you absolutely need to know.
Some iOS 15 bugs will be too much to deal with
A beta is called that because it’s not finished and there are bound to be issues. For example, the second beta of iOS 14.7 includes an issue that causes some iPhones to not recognize the SIM card inside the phone. Without a SIM card, your phone may as well be an iPod Touch.
Bugs and issues just like that will surely crop up in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15. And even if they don’t completely stop you from using your iPhone or iPad, the bugs will still be annoying and could mean the difference between getting work done and reliably sending messages, and having a paperweight.
It’s inevitable: Some apps won’t work
Whenever Apple makes major changes to the operating system and the underlying APIs that developers use to build new features and services, it typically means that older developer tools are removed or how it works gets changed. Even a slight change can cause an app to no longer work, at all.
A couple of years ago, I was testing an iOS beta and I couldn’t use my bank’s app. It would open and then immediately force quit. Thankfully, the developers were able to release an update that took care of the issue, but that’s not always the case.
And just because during beta 1 all of your apps work fine, that doesn’t mean that beta 3 won’t break them. If there are apps you rely on daily, it’s better to wait until closer to the official release before joining the beta.
Battery life almost always suffers
Even if you’re fortunate enough to not have any apps that won’t run on the beta or missed out on a show-stopping error like the iOS 14.7 SIM bug, almost no one is immune from the hit that battery life takes during the iOS beta season.
One of the last things Apple does during beta programs is optimize the apps, features and services for battery efficiency. Or at least that’s how it feels. In previous beta programs, I’ve often found myself looking for a charger halfway through the day, even with minimal use. And the same has been true with the first couple of iOS 15 betas. I’ve had to leave my phone on a charger whenever I’m at my desk in order to get through the evening. Battery life always suffers.
Thankfully in the past Apple has released a battery case for its current-generation iPhones that have helped, but this year the company has yet to release anything for the iPhone 12 lineup.
If you do install the iOS 15 beta, be ready to carry around a wall adapter and cable. You’re going to need it.
My advice? Wait until August, when we’re typically about a month away from the official release of iOS 15 and iPadOS 15. By that time, the developer beta and the public beta will have been out for a couple of months and a lot of the bugs and issues will be resolved. And that’s usually when you start to see battery life slowly improve.
If you decide you’re going to give iOS 15 a try, here’s what you need to know about installing it. Joining the beta isn’t a permanent decision. You can go back, but it’ll take some work. Make sure to check out our WWDC roundup for an easy way to find everything else Apple announced at WWDC 21.