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iOS 16 Beta: 5 Tips to Know Before You Download

This story is part of WWDC 2022, CNET’s complete coverage from and about Apple’s annual developers conference.

Apple’s iOS 16 is still in its developer beta phase after being unveiled at WWDC 2022 earlier in June. The iPhone-maker’s latest mobile operating system is only available for members of the Apple Developer Program, but you can download it right now if you like.

Among the new iOS 16 features announced so far are a redesigned lock screen for the iPhone, the ability to unsend or edit text messages and improvements to Apple Maps. And while the upgrade isn’t slated for general release until September, we’ll walk you through how to get your hands on iOS 16 right now — even before it enters its public beta phase.

Although it’s easy to download and install iOS 16, be aware that this prerelease isn’t intended for general use, especially because, like all developer beta releases, iOS 16 may currently have unfinished features. These early beta releases are intended for developers, to help them keep their apps up to date while also providing early access to the newest features.

This is all to clarify that you probably shouldn’t install this on your main device if you really want to check out this version of iOS 16, but perhaps instead a spare iPhone that is new enough to work with iOS 16 (the iPhone 8 or later). If you do want to take these steps, we’ll also show you what you need to do in case you need to revert back to a stable version of iOS 15. 

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If you want to learn more about iOS 16, check out the iOS 16 reveal during WWDC, how iOS 16 is bringing a big makeover to the iPhone lock screen and Apple Maps’ new look that will debut in iOS 16

Before you download iOS 16, here’s what you should know

Because iOS 16 is an early prerelease version, the software will be full of bugs and other issues.

Again, if you’re thinking about downloading iOS 16, do it on a backup or secondary phone, if available. The iOS 16 beta preview’s issues could cripple your phone and make it difficult to use, disabling phone calls or text messages or making it extremely laggy. However, if you only have your main phone or tablet available, make sure to back up your device on iOS 15 before updating to iOS 16. That way you have the option to return to iOS 15 if there are too many issues on the new OS.

Also, you must have an iPhone 8 or later to run iOS 16. The next mobile software update will not be applied to the iPhone SE (2016), iPhone 6S, ‌iPhone‌ 6S Plus, ‌iPhone‌ 7 or ‌iPhone‌ 7 Plus. 

If you haven’t already, enroll in the Apple Developer Program

The first step to get iOS 16 on your iPhone or iPad is to enroll in the Apple Developer Program if you aren’t already a member. If you’re on your iPhone or iPad, here’s how you can enroll:

1. Download the Apple Developer app from the App Store.

2. Launch the app, go to Account and tap Enroll Now.

3. Sign in with your Apple ID credentials.

4. Read through the various benefits and instructions, enter your personal information and scan your ID to verify your identity.

5. Once this information is submitted, you must choose your entity (individual for most people) and agree to the program license agreement.

6. Finally, pay the Apple Developer membership fee (with Apple Pay), which is $99 (about £80 or AU$140) a year.

After you successfully make the payment, you’ll be redirected to your Account page in the Apple Developer app. Here you can verify that you’re now enrolled, and you can also check out the date of your membership’s expiration next year.

Download iOS 16 with an over-the-air update on your iPhone or iPad

The easiest way to download iOS 16 is via over-the-air update, the way you would update to any other new software release on your device. Here’s how:

1. On your iPhone or iPad, go to the Apple Developer Program download page, tap Install Profile for iOS 16 beta (iPhone) or iPadOS 16 beta (iPad) and hit Allow.

2. Next, open the Settings app, tap on Profile Downloaded and hit Install on the top right when it appears. Enter your passcode if prompted and then tap Install two more times. Your phone will need to restart.

3. Once your phone boots back up, connect it to power, make sure you’re on Wi-Fi and go to Settings > General > Software Update. If you don’t instantly see an update available, wait a few minutes and check again.

4. Finally, hit Download and Install > Install and enter your passcode to update your device.

After your phone finishes rebooting, you should have access to the latest iOS 16 developer beta.

You can also download iOS 16 using your Mac

Over-the-air updates require a certain amount of storage, and if you don’t have that available, using your computer is really the only way to update to iOS 16 without manually clearing out space.

1. On your Mac, go to the Apple Developer Program download page, find iOS 16 beta or iPadOS 16 beta and click Download Restore Images.

2. Download the iOS beta software restore image for your specific device.

3. Next, connect your device to your computer and enter your device passcode or hit Trust This Computer if prompted.

4. Open Finder and click your device in the sidebar under Locations.

5. In General, next to Software, you’ll see the latest software your device is running. 

6. Hold down the Option key, click Check for Update and choose the iOS 16 beta software restore image you just downloaded from the Apple Developer page.

The iOS 16 beta software will install on your device. Wait for a few minutes and when your phone reboots, you should have access to iOS 16.

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