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First look

Want to try out new phone features before anyone else? Sign up for beta testing

Once you’re aware of the obvious risks with such an approach, it’s useful in trying out features in advance.

EVERYONE WANTS THE latest features to arrive now, but while many are announced in advance, you can end up waiting a while before they finally arrive.

But if you wanted to skip the waiting or just get a taste of new or potential features, you can sign up for beta testing. For Android devices, you can try out the beta version of apps pretty easily but if you wanted to go a step further, you can even try out the beta versions for the software that runs your smartphone and PC.

Developers release them this way so they can identify and get rid of any bugs or flaws. While the purpose is for users to provide feedback, you can still just install it and use it for your own purposes.

Upcoming apps
Risk:
Low as they’re brand new apps.

If you own an Android device, you can look out for apps that are currently in beta testing mode. When you visit the Google Play store, you can find the Early Access section on the home page (scroll the bubble menu right to left).

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Popular apps
Risk:
Low/medium. You will likely come across bugs but reverting to the normal version is pretty straightforward.

For the more popular apps like Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Google, and Facebook Messenger, it’s easy to sign up now.

If you visit their page on Google Play, you can scroll down to the bottom of the page where you will see an opt-in option. Tapping it will ensure the next update will be the beta version.

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Browser
Risk:
Low as you can have both official and beta version installed separately.

All of the major browsers have beta versions you can download alongside the official (stable) version. You can download the beta version of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Opera directly from their sites. The exception is Microsoft Edge which is only available via the Windows Insider programme.

Operating systems
Risk:
High as you’re replacing stable software. The chances of you encountering annoying or disruptive bugs is high, especially if you have an older device.

If you wanted to go a little further, you can sign up to beta programmes for major software offerings like iOS, Android, macOS, Windows 10 and Chrome OS.

While signing up to them mean you get to test out features in advance of their release, the drawback to this is there will be bugs (hence the beta tag) so if things go wrong, your device can become unstable.

It’s strongly recommend you back up important files first before you proceed with this. And in certain cases like iOS and Android, the official release of iOS 10 and Nougat will arrive in September so you don’t have long to wait anyway.

iOS and macOS: To start, you need to sign up to Apple’s beta software programme which requires your Apple ID and password. Once that’s done, you need to follow the instructions and download the necessary files on the relevant device.

On Mac, you can install it directly, but on iPhone, you need to go into Settings > General > Software Update to install it.

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Windows 10: You can sign up through the Windows Insider programme which requires you to sign in with your Microsoft account. Once you download the media creation tool for it and follow the instructions.

Chrome OS: Go into Settings > About > More Info… > Change Channel and you will see three options: Stable, Beta and Developer – unstable.

Android: To do this, you need to sign up for the Android Beta website and sign in with your Google account. Only a small number of devices are eligible for it but it will tell you anyway.

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Read: The iPhone gets one last ‘important security update’ before iOS 10 launch >

Read: Your phone’s battery life is being used to track you online >

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