If you're a long time iOS developer, you probably don't need to read this. But, if you're a new iOS developer or a member of beta tester team, you might be tempted to get a feel of iOS 7 before its release later this year. If this is the first time you're installing a beta version of iOS, especially on your main iPhone, I'd recommend you check out this shortlist of mine.
I created this list based on my own experience installing iOS 7 beta on my main iPhone 4S. I know it's risky and not recommended, but as a developer, this is necessary for me. Here's the list of the things that you need to perform, both before and after installing the OS.
- Update your OS X to 10.8.4 and iTunes to 11.0.4
- If you want a faster backup and restore process, you might want to delete all the apps you don't really need and leave only the essentials.
- Backup your Camera Roll manually, if you don't want to back them up to iCloud.
- If you want a faster backup and restore process, you might want to remove as many videos, music and book as possible from your iPhone.
- Don't forget to transfer your apps purchases when you're syncing your iPhone to iTunes.
- Backup your device to iTunes. You can also backup your iPhone to iCloud, but restoring from iTunes is much faster than restoring from iCloud.
- Extract all local data from the apps to iTunes and your desktop whenever possible. For example, I saved my local data from Momento to iTunes and a folder on my desktop before proceeding with the installation.
- If you have apps that can sync their data via iCloud, don't forget to turn it on. For example: Camera+ can sync the photos in your Lightbox, Downcast can sync your podcast subscriptions, and Due can sync your reminders and custom timers.
- Download the correct iOS 7 beta seed for your iPhone. If you have an iPhone 5, you might want to verify the model number at the back of your iPhone. Extract the dmg file when the download is complete.
- Make sure that your iPhone has been registered as one of the devices used in development and testing for your developer account.
- Plug your iPhone to the desktop and hold the Option key as you click the Restore button. Find the ipsw file that you have just extracted. Make sure that you have a good internet connection because iTunes will be verifying the software and firmware to an Apple server throughout the installation procedure.
- After installation, when prompted where to restore from, choose your most recent backup on iTunes.
- Once it's all setup, you may need to re-login to cloud services that you use, such as your email accounts and Dropbox.
One of the most frequently asked questions before making the decision to install a beta version of iOS on your main iPhone is whether the third-party apps would work on the new version. Based on my experience with the apps that I use regularly, most of them are working just fine, except for the following four apps:
- Dropbox. I am unable to login to Dropbox using its iOS app. If you want to use Dropbox link for your other apps, you might want to delete the Dropbox app instead and recreate the link via the web interface triggered by your apps.
- iA Writer. Too bad it crashes consistently on launch. I had to switch to Byword for now.
- Clear. Things are a bit weird with Clear. Everything seems OK, except for the lists and list items. They're really invisible, no matter which theme I'm using.
- TextExpander. The app works fine, but I cannot expand the snippets in other apps.
Other third-party apps that I have verified to be working include Drafts, Launch Center Pro, Due, Pastebot, 1Password, Fantastical, Downcast, Tweetbot, Dispatch, Momento, Day One, Byword, Instapaper, Felix, Whisper, Patter, Reeder, and Evernote. You might be required to re-login to Dropbox, Twitter, App.net or any of the backend services used by these apps, but the apps are certainly usable for daily use.
Installing a beta version of the new iOS on your main iPhone is a risky business. Unless you're a serious iOS developer and you know what you're doing, I'd strongly recommend against it. In addition to the possibility of bad quality of the future builds, you may also face performance issues and unable to install new/updated iOS 6 apps.
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