iOS 9 public beta is live: here’s everything you need to know

Susie Ochs
10 July, 2015
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So far today is shaping up to be software Christmas, with a public beta of OS X El Capitan, as well as a final version of Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac shipping to Office 365 subscribers. Don’t let your iPhone and iPad feel neglected, though – Apple is also launching the public beta of iOS 9.

Now, a beta is a beta. Don’t get swept up in the excitement and forget that this software isn’t final and could have bugs, so you may want to think twice about putting it on your everyday iPhone. That said, developers are on their third beta of iOS 9 and we haven’t heard about any major problems, so if you’re feeling brave, here’s how to get the beta and what you can expect when you do.

What is the iOS 9 beta?

Apple has a Beta Software Program that started with OS X 10.10 Yosemite and is now providing betas of OS X 10.11 El Capitan. iOS 9 is the first version of iOS that is available as a public beta – before, you had to join the developer program for US$99 (per year) to get pre-release versions of iOS. The public beta lets you avoid that expense, and will make it easier to install the beta too.

Keep in mind, as we already said, that this is pre-release software – it’s close to being ready for release, but it still needs testing. You may see bugs, your iPhone or iPad could crash more often, and some of your apps and services may not work. (Apple Music, for example, wasn’t available on launch day for people using the developer beta of iOS 9, but the current developer beta does have it, and the public beta will too.)

What should I do before installing it?

Back up! Back up your device – I recommend a tethered backup to iTunes with the ‘Encrypt this backup’ box checked, so you won’t have to log in to all your apps and services again if you should need to restore from this backup. Again, Apple recommends you install the iOS 9 beta on a secondary device.

I’m ready to live dangerously! How do I sign up?

You just head to the Beta Software Program page and express interest by signing in with your Apple ID and password. You also have to agree to the terms and enroll your iOS device.

How do I enroll my device?

Once you log in to the Beta Software Program page, you’ll see a link to Enroll your iOS device. Apple will remind you to make a backup (seriously, you really, really have to back up – back up to iTunes, and Apple recommends you ‘archive’ the backup to make sure it’s saved), and then you’re instructed to go to on the iOS device that you want to put the beta on, in order to download and install a configuration profile. That will make the beta available in the Settings app.

While you’re waiting for it to download and install, you can check out our full iOS 9 FAQ, or this more truncated look at six major headaches that iOS 9 is going to fix.

Which devices are supported?

Everything that runs iOS 8! That’s the fifth-gen iPod touch, the iPhone 4s and newer, all three iPad mini models, and iPads going back to the iPad 2. (The iPad 2!)

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