The Things People Do To Run Apple Beta Software

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I understand that security and privacy are Apple’s middle name now and that developers especially appreciate these. However, Apple also knows that a pretty much every tech journalist and blogger that even remotely covers Apple has a Dev Account for one purpose- to run beta software for testing and to write about it. I am no exception.

Unfortunately, not all of us have Macs. In my case, I don’t even have access to one. I know that makes me a bit of an odd duck writing for an Apple-centric site, but it is what it is and I’ve covered that ground before. I can’t easily use a Mac at work and there is no need for me to use one at home.

I have made due just fine up to this point, but that became a much greater challenge this year. First of all, the Dev Account I use isn’t mine, or at least under my Apple ID. It is under the account of one of this site’s owners. Again, this was never an issue before. I used the account to register my devices. I got a beta profile installed on my device. I updated over the air and boom. Done.

However, it isn’t that simple anymore, especially for a Windows user. While I can see the beta downloads on the site, I can’t get to the Account area where you need to register devices and none of my current devices are registered because none of them have ever run betas. Why? Apple now requires Two Factor Authentication for Dev Accounts and trying to get it enabled has been quite the project last night and this morning. I love having Two Factor for my own devices and I have no problems managing it there. However, it is very difficult when the account is tied to an owner who is a pleasure to deal with in all respects, but is located in another country, is hands off and is not an Apple user. I hate asking for people’s personal info, but I had to get some from him to even get started.

First off, you have to enable Two Factor on an Apple device. It can’t be done from the web. However, no devices were singed in on this iCloud account because it exists only for the Dev Account that’s tied to it. I had to sign out of iCloud on my iPad Pro and sign into this account to start the ball rolling. Then, when I went to enable Two Factor, I hit more snags.

Then I had to change the payment info to something of mine. Why? Because Apple asks for you to enter the card number to confirm enabling Two Factor. I had to change the Country to the US before Apple would actually allow that. No big deal. Then I had to remove my wife’s phone number as a Trusted Source on our iCloud and put it on this one to get the code for authentication. Then Apple asked me for the super long strong password for the account ONE MORE TIME for good measure.

Ok, so Two Factor is down. That’s it right? Not quite. Apple makes finding UDIDs for devices a real pain for anyone without a Mac and XCode these days. I found a way around that, but I had to  install iTunes on my laptop to get there. Ok. Not the end of the world. That will cover my iPhone and iPad. I’m not sure about my Apple Watch. We’ll have to see about that one, but I won’t be running that until Beta 2 at least, so I have some time. Maybe I can find a Mac at the Apple Store with XCode and get it that way.

If you are a Mac user, you could proceed at this point. Even then, Apple made Developer Beta installs more difficult this year. They have gone back to requiring users to download the Beta IPSW files for iPhone and iPad from the Dev site and install using iTunes. No more easy OTA Dev Betas, at least not for Beta 1. Apple even included a little note for people like me:

Important Note for Thrill Seekers: If you’re interested in living on the edge and trying out the great new features in iPadOS 13, we strongly advise waiting for the many bug fixes and refinements coming to the public beta next month.

Using that file also requires the new macOS beta and XCode, which I obviously don’t have.

I knew there would be a way for Windows users to get around this and it looks like I was right. I found instructions for using an utility from GIitHub called libimobile2019 at Redmond Pie. So I’ve enabled Two Factor Authentication, downloaded iTunes and registered my iPad Pro and now I’m downloading the iPad Pro IPSW and I got the utility and instructions that an unfortunate Windows users like myself has to have to move forward. And I’m out of town on vacation and won’t be home until late Friday night. What could possibly go wrong?

It doesn’t matter because I’m not waiting to join up with the unwashed masses when the Public Beta comes out in a month. I’m already three days late and that’s enough for me. So I’ll let you know how it goes later on.


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