There's something exciting about trying out new versions of an operating system, especially when it's a test build. Suddenly a device you've gotten to know well becomes fresh again and useful (or at the very least entertaining) in all new ways. Now is that time for eager Apple users, with the company's iOS 17, iPadOS 17, watchOS 10 and macOS Sonoma public betas finally available to download.
The new iOS 17 will include a slew of updates from design to practical. You can customize what people see when you call them — whether it's a cute cartoon or your favorite selfie, put the call to voicemail with a live transcription across your screen and send someone a video or audio message if they don't pick up your FaceTime call. Plus, you can mute and unmute yourself right from your AirPods. "Ducking" should also be a thing of the past on iOS 17 with an improved autocorrect and you can utilize sentence predictions for quicker responses. Additional features include automatically checking in to let your friends know you've arrived home, locating real-time charging stations along your route on Maps and the ability to say how you're feeling on the Health app (so and so is pleasant does feel very early Facebook days).
iPadOS 17 is, to a degree, a catch-up release that adds a customizable lock screen, the Health app and interactive widgets. WatchOS 10 is a substantial Apple Watch revamp that revives the emphasis on widgets while overhauling core apps and improving fitness features. MacOS Sonoma, meanwhile, brings widgets to the Mac desktop while upgrading Safari, video calls and gaming.
Apple first announced these upgrades at its Worldwide Developers Conference and subsequently released the iOS 17, iPadOS 17 and macOS Sonoma betas for developers. Unlike in previous years, though, the developer betas were available free for anyone to try — developer accounts typically cost about $100 per year. The iOS 17 public beta should be a bit more polished than the developer builds, given the extra time to work out bugs and compatibility problems. The official versions will launch this fall, but you can sign up for the Apple Beta Software Program if you want to try the previews now.