Apple has officially announced iOS 16, the next generation of its iPhone operating system. The latest iOS release promises some cool and exciting new features, including a fully customizable lock screen complete with widgets, shared iCloud Photo Libraries for families, Live Text in videos, and more.
Although the final iOS 16 release won’t arrive before July, Apple has already released the first beta for developers to play with and get their apps ready, and it won’t be long before a public beta arrives. If you’re itching to try out the latest iOS 16 features, here’s how to sign up for the beta programs and download the latest pre-release software.
Typically, early betas of major iOS releases aren’t available to the public, and iOS 16 isn’t an exception. The first beta of iOS 16 is only open to members of the Apple Developer Program, and this will likely continue for the next couple of beta releases. Apple usually releases a public beta sometime in late June or early July, often in tandem with the second or third developer beta. At that time, anybody who wants to get their hands on it can sign up for Apple’s free Beta Software Program. It’s generally a good idea to wait for the public beta since that’s the point when Apple feels things are stable enough for non-developers to play with. However, if you’re eager to get your hands on the early iOS 16 release and willing to live with the risks, you can sign up for Apple’s Developer Program.
Back up your iPhone
Before installing an iOS beta, it’s always a good idea to have a current backup of your iPhone. Remember, this is beta software, so it’s much more likely that things can go wrong.
Further, Apple’s warranty doesn’t cover an iPhone running an iOS beta. Should you encounter problems with your iPhone, you have to restore it to the last public iOS release before bringing or sending it in for repair. That will require restoring your iPhone to its new state, so you’ll want to make sure you have a backup in case this happens.
You can find the instructions on how to do this in our article on how to back up your iPhone.
We highly recommend making an additional backup to your Mac or PC in case you need to return to the iOS 15 public release. You can’t restore a backup made from a newer version of iOS onto an iPhone running an older version, and iOS backs up your iPhone to iCloud automatically every 24 hours. Only the three most recent iCloud Backups are retained, so it won’t take long for your iOS 15 backup to be pushed out of the rotation. Backing up to your computer will ensure you have a backup to fall back on in case you have to restore to iOS 15.
If you really want to get the iOS 16 beta right away, you’ll need to pay $99 to enroll in the Apple Developer Program. You can do this as an individual or an organization; however, the individual registration is faster and simpler as you don’t need to provide as much documentation — your legal name and address should be sufficient. Note that this won’t give you immediate access to the iOS 16 beta; you’ll need to wait for Apple to approve your application first, which may take a couple of days.
Step 1: Using a web browser, visit the Apple Beta website.
Step 2: Select Start your enrollment.
Step 3: Sign in with your Apple ID and password.
Step 4: Agree to the Apple Developer agreement by selecting the checkbox and choosing the Submit button.
Step 5: Choose Continue enrollment on the web to process. Alternatively, you can follow the instructions to download the Apple Developer app and complete the enrollment process directly from your iPhone or iPad.
Step 6: On the next screen, fill in your personal information and select Continue.
Step 7: Select Individual/sole proprietor as your entity type.
Step 8: Review the Apple Developer Program license agreement by selecting the Checkbox and choosing the Continue button.
Step 9: If you would like your developer subscription to renew automatically each year, select the Checkbox in the Auto-renewal section.
Step 10: Proceed to the payment screen by choosing the Purchase button.
Step 11: Enter your payment details and complete your purchase.
The iOS 16 public beta isn’t available yet, but you can get ready for it by signing up for the Apple Beta Software Program. For now, that will give you access to betas of the latest iOS 15 point releases, but when the iOS 16 public beta lands, you’ll be good to go.
Step 1: In a web browser, visit the Apple beta website.
Step 2: Choose the blue Sign up button.
Step 3: On the next screen, enter your Apple ID and select the right-facing Arrow icon.
Step 4: When the password field appears, enter the password for your Apple ID and select the right-facing Arrow icon.
Step 5: If prompted, enter the six-digit two-factor authentication code sent to your iPhone, and then chose Trust if you want to skip the verification code prompt the next time you sign in, or choose Do not trust if you’re using a shared or public browser.
Step 6: Read the Apple Beta Software Program Agreement and choose Accept to confirm your acceptance of it.
Your Apple ID is now enrolled in the Apple Beta Software Program. You won’t be able to download the iOS 16 public beta yet, but when it’s released, you can return here and sign in with your Apple ID to get the necessary configuration profile.
Once your Apple Developer Account has been approved, or later on, when the public beta is released, you can install the iOS 16 beta over the air by downloading the appropriate configuration profile. This tells your iPhone that it’s authorized to get the beta and where to download it.
The steps to get the profile vary slightly depending on whether you’re a developer or a public beta tester, but once you’ve installed the profile, the process of updating to the iOS 16 beta is the same either way.
If you’ve participated in a beta program for iOS 15 or earlier, you’ll still need to download a new configuration profile for iOS 16. Each major iOS version uses a unique configuration profile, so if you only see an iOS 15.6 or iOS 15.7 beta appear, it’s because you’re still using an iOS 15 beta profile.
Step 1: Using Safari on your iPhone, go to the appropriate website:
- If you’re a member of the Apple Developer Program, visit the Apple developer beta site and sign in with your Apple ID.
- If you’re a public beta tester, you’ll visit the Apple beta website (once it’s available) and sign in with your Apple ID there.
Step 2: Download and install the configuration profile:
- If you’re an Apple Developer, select the Install profile button in the iOS 16 beta section.
- If you’re a Public Beta tester, ensure the iOS tab is selected from the horizontal menu bar and then scroll down and choose Enroll your iOS device from the Get started section, and then choose Download profile from the next page.
Step 3: Choose Allow to confirm that you want to download the configuration profile, and then select Close to confirm the profile has been downloaded.
Step 4: Open your iPhone Settings app.
Step 5: Choose Profile downloaded near the top of the screen.
Step 6: Select Install in the top-right corner to install the profile.
Step 7: When prompted, enter your iPhone passcode.
Step 8: Choose Install in the top-right corner to confirm the Apple beta agreement.
Step 9: Select Install from the menu that appears at the bottom of the screen.
Step 10: When prompted, choose Restart to reboot your iPhone.
Your iPhone is now ready to download the latest iOS 16 beta over the air. However, before you do that, you should make a backup in case anything goes wrong.
Once you’ve installed the iOS 16 configuration profile from either the Apple Developer Program or Apple Beta Software Program (when it becomes available) and backed up your iPhone, you’re ready to take the plunge and install the iOS 16 Beta.
Updating to the iOS 16 beta is done the same way as any other iOS software update. The configuration profile you installed earlier tells your iPhone to get the beta software instead of looking for the last public iOS release.
Step 1: Open your iPhone Settings app.
Step 2: Select General.
Step 3: Choose Software update. After a few seconds, the iOS 16 Beta should appear.
Step 4: Select Download and install to begin the process.
It may take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or more to download the iOS 16 beta, prepare it, and then install it on your iPhone. Once the process completes, your iPhone will restart and take you through a series of welcome and setup screens, similar to those you’ll see when updating to a public release.
Once you’ve installed the iOS 16 beta on your iPhone, you’ll remain on track to get future iOS 16 beta updates as they become available. There’s nothing you need to do except repeat these steps above to check for the latest beta software update and install it when it becomes available.