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February 5, 2018

Here’s how to enroll in the iOS beta program to get updates early

by John_A

Do you love staying on the cutting edge of all things Apple, including the latest iOS 11.3 changes? Then it makes sense to enroll in the iOS beta program, which allows you an early experience with the latest iOS updates before they go live for the rest of the public. Pretty much anyone can sign up to be part of the beta program and explore iOS 11.3 — as long as you know where to go. Here is how to enroll in the iOS beta program.

Note: The beta program works with iPhones and iPads (other programs are available for the Apple TV, Mac, etc.). However, older versions may not be compatible with the newest iOS changes, so you may find issues with old models — more on this below. Additionally, beta programs are a way to test for bugs and problems, so all the usual warnings about lost data apply here.

Step 1: Back up your iOS device

In a perfect world, beta previews would never have a problem, but we definitely don’t live in that world. There is a chance that the beta will introduce bugs onto your iPhone, or possibly even delete your data and brick your device. To be on the safe side, connect your chosen device to a computer and pop open iTunes.

Select the name of your device on the sidebar once it is recognized. You will see a screen of device information, including a section called Backups. Here, look for a section that says Manually Back Up and Restore, and select the option that says Back Up Now.

You usually have an option to encrypt your backup if you want the extra protection, as well as an option to back up your apps. Encryption is up to you, but you should probably back up your apps in case something goes wrong. This may take a little space, which is why we’re doing a manual backup on your computer instead of trying to back up on iCloud.

Once the backup is finished, there is one more important step. Go up to iTunes in the top menu, select it, then choose Preferences, followed by the Devices tab on the new open window, and then go to the backup of the device you are using. Here, right-click for the option to Archive your backup, which will add a lock icon to the device name. This is a little extra insurance that prevents the iOS beta from overwriting your backup in the future, so you will always have a copy of your current information safe.

Step 2: On your device, head toward the beta website

Disconnect your iOS device from your computer, and make sure the device has a stable internet connection. Visit the Apple Beta Software Program website. Here, you can check out what devices support iOS 11. Spoiler: All iPads are compatible, plus iPhones starting with the iPhone 5S — and even the sixth-generation iPod Touch. You can also learn more about some of the new features iOS 11 brings to the table, explore other beta programs, and learn about how the beta program works.

We encourage you to take a little time here and at least glance through the FAQs to learn what to expect. When you’re ready, select the Sign Up button to enroll in the program.

Step 3: Sign up for the beta!

First, the enrollment process will ask for your Apple ID and password. It’s important that you use the ID that is associated with your mobile device. You may have to enter your passcode or another additional security code at this point.

When finished, take a look at the Beta Software Program agreement, read the warning labels, and select Accept when you’ve made up your mind. That’s it! You are enrolled and ready to begin.

Step 4: Download the beta onto your device

The enrollment will take you to the beta program guide, where you can explore the iOS beta tab to learn more. However, if you are on your mobile device you should also get a notification that a new software update is available that will load the beta up.

Downloading this update is easy: Just go to your iOS Settings and select the General tab, then select Software Update. This should bring up the update window, showing you what version of iOS you can update to. You can begin the update process by selecting Download and Install whenever you are ready.

You will probably want to plug your device in while it updates to make sure that it doesn’t run out of battery life. Now, just sit back and wait for your beta experience to begin!

If you want to get rid of the beta at any time, check out how to uninstall iOS beta software from your iPhone.

Editors’ Recommendations

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  • An update to watchOS 4.3 brings several new features to the Apple Watch
  • How to factory reset an iPhone
  • Imgur adds looping GIF feature, new iOS news feed before big desktop redesign
  • Common iOS 11 problems and advice on how to handle them


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