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Apple makes far more than just beta and release versions of iOS

Along the way to a full release, Apple develops several variants of iOS all with a unique purpose and an entirely different set of users. Here’s what they are, when they’re used, and by whom.

Three early versions of a smartphone UI with different apps and settings displayed on each screen.
Apple develops several iOS variants for every release, and each one has a unique purpose

The end-consumer version of iOS is obviously freely available to all, but there are many different stages of development and testing. Most of the unique variants of iOS are limited to use within Apple or relevant factories and vendors.

Before Apple releases its first developer beta of an operating system to registered developers, the OS has to go through a series of internal tests to ensure proper functionality. For this reason, iOS exists in several variants within Apple, all of which can exist simultaneously.

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