Should you install beta updates for Apple TV 4K?

Should you install beta updates for Apple TV 4K?
Apple TV beta software options as seen on TV.
Phil Nickinson/

It’s one of those things you see from time to time whenever Apple launches an onslaught of new beta software. And it is worth discussing. Should you be the proud owner of an Apple TV (or the new Apple TV 4K, which is still our choice for the best streaming hardware you can buy), just sit back and watch the production-level, as Steve Jobs intended. Let tvOS updates arrive in your box? Or should you stay on the sidelines and take your chances with the beta update?

This is a fair question. I am fond of updates. But here’s a little something to think about.

What is beta update?

For us mere mortals (like anyone who doesn’t work at Apple), there are three software tracks you can choose from on the Apple TV. There’s regular software that everyone gets, which we’ll call “production”. Because that’s what it is. There are two types of betas. There’s “developer”, and there’s “public”.

The oversimplified version is that those designations point to the software’s location in the release track. The further along things are, the more testing they should have received, and thus the more bug-free the software should be. The developer is on the verge of danger. Public betas are intended to be a more widespread, public release. And then production software is what retail units (and most people) will get.

Software Update section on Apple TV.
Phil Nickinson/

Why deal with beta updates?

So why mess with beta software? The real reason is that this is where you’ll find new features before they’re released on the production track. Sometimes they are at different stages of development. They may or may not be close to being finished. The buttons could stay put, or they could move around a bit. That’s why we don’t usually report on beta software that much – although there are some exceptions. And when we do so, we note that we are talking about beta software, which is very much subject to change.

It’s also quite possible that things will break. Although we’ve rarely experienced this on the Apple TV platform, phone nerds (I’m raising my hand as one) are well aware that beta software can break things. This is because software on platforms like tvOS, iOS, or Android contains code called API, short for application programming interface. This is the code that lets an app talk to the hardware and the services that run on it. Beta software may introduce new APIs that won’t work with an app that hasn’t been updated for them, or it may break older APIs.

This is the actual work of the developer and public track of beta software and testing. Developers get new features early so they can figure out how to implement them. Public beta allows non-developers to test things before public release. (Of course, there are all sorts of non-public tests going on, but that’s not what concerns us.)

Apple TV Beta Software Update.
Phil Nickinson/

Should you use the Apple TV beta update?

So let’s think back to the question. Should you install beta software updates for your Apple TV? I’d answer that question with another question: Do you get a stern look from a spouse or roommate or parent if you mess with something you shouldn’t be messing with, and it breaks? , and you explain that it’s broken and you’re trying to fix it and it really shouldn’t take that much time and it’s okay because you’ll never really do that again?

If that last part sounds at all like you, proceed with caution. But the good news is that major issues with the tvOS beta software are fairly rare. That doesn’t mean they won’t happen, and it doesn’t mean things will never break. But there’s also a good chance that if you install the beta update, no one will be the wiser.

Why bother with any of this? If you’re a developer, the reasons are self-explanatory and you don’t need us to tell you why. But for everyone else, it’s really a matter of wanting to try out new features without waiting for production software to arrive. Sometimes this also requires a software update to your phone, in the case of the iPhone/Apple TV FaceTime feature in iOS 17. But for something like the updated TV app in iOS 17.2, a quick update on your Apple TV box is all it takes. ,

it’s your call. And the good news is that Apple has made it easier than ever to update to beta software.

How to Install Beta Software on Apple TV

Earlier it used to be that you had to go through some difficulties to install beta software on Apple products. It is very easy now.

open Adjustment app on your Apple TV. scroll down Systemand then choose software update, toggle Get Beta Updates To But, Now choose whether you want the developer track or the public beta track.

Then sit back and let the update do its thing.


Ganesan Arumugam is a seasoned journalist with a passion for uncovering stories that resonate with readers worldwide. With a keen eye for detail and a commitment to journalistic integrity, Ganesan has contributed to the media landscape for over a decade, covering a diverse range of topics including politics, technology, culture, and human interest stories.

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