Apple is making iOS 17, iPadOS 17, and macOS Sonoma betas available for free

Apple has opened up its beta library to make it freely available to all developers. All you need is an Apple ID to download early versions of the much-touted operating system updates if you want access ahead of the full, bug-tested release.

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Several Apple news experts have noted the company’s change in policy regarding who gets access to resources under the Apple Developer Program. Previously, only those paying $99 per year had access to the OS beta versions. Following Apple’s WWDC 2023 this week, the tech giant is now allowing anyone with an Apple ID to sign up for operating system betas including iOS 17, iPadOS 17, watchOS and macOS Sonoma.

Of course, Apple warns new users not to install these beta operating systems on their main device as they are still relatively buggy. and some features may not work as intended. Nevertheless, it is a big step for the otherwise very closed company Apple.

The upcoming version of iOS and iPadOS is not expected to be released until autumn. iOS 17 is said to get a host of new features, including AI-powered autocorrect and a new Standby mode to turn an iPhone into something of an always-on smart home device. iPadOS 17 aims to give users more control over their lock screens with more background options. There are also new updates for the iPad’s personal health app, which provides more health data at a glance. There are also less-discussed features like support for third-party external USB-C devices like webcams.

The new macOS Sonoma offers some handy features, including new ways to manage your widgets. There’s also a new moderator overlay for video conferencing and freshly released Safari security updates. This includes, among other things, a new “game mode”, which, like Windows, increases performance by reducing the computing effort for background tasks. It is also said to reduce audio latency and increase the Bluetooth sampling rate for connected controllers.

With Mac Game Mode, Apple finally seems to have a chance to increase its presence in the gaming market. Although Apple didn’t mention it during its keynote address at its annual developer conference, Sonoma offers a new game porting tool that allows developers to take games from Windows and port them to Macs. As detailed in a developer talk earlier this week, the company showed how game developers can use the tool to translate Windows’ DirectX 12 API into Metal 3, Apple’s similar graphics rendering API.

As 9to5Mac points out, the Game Porting Tool is based on the Wine open-source platform, which is used by third parties to translate Windows software to macOS or Linux. Apple used The Medium game as an example of how developers could easily port existing software to Macs. However, Apple also wants developers to convert Direct X directly to Metal, adding that developers could even access features like spatial audio and HDR video on Mac devices.

The prospect of Mac gaming has been a long-sought but seldom realized ideal since the days of early Apple-exclusive games like Marathon. While Apple Arcade still exists, it’s nice to know that the tech giant doesn’t put as much emphasis on exclusivity as it used to. However, if the company really wanted to showcase its platforms as game-ready, one would expect developers to showcase games played on Mac devices rather than revealing how it’s technically possible. Apple’s Vision Pro MR headset is also said to make gaming easier, but the company didn’t unveil any gaming software using the device on Monday.