Welcome to our iOS beta installation guide, in which we explain how to get the new iOS 11 operating system on your iPhone or iPad before the official public launch that will take place on 19 September. If you'd rather install the final version of iOS 11 when it launches see How to update iOS on iPhone or iPad.
Once a year, at WWDC, Apple unveils its latest major update to the iOS software on iPads and iPhones, which will be launched to the public in autumn. But before then, they will be available for a limited time to the select few: the beta testers.
If you're desperate to try the newest iOS features as soon as possible, you'll need to join a beta programme. Just remember that you'll be using a version of iOS that isn't completely finished, so there might be bugs.
In this article we explain how to join an iOS beta programme and how to install the new iOS 11 beta. We also offer advice on whether this is a good idea, or if you would be better off waiting a few months for the public launch.
When can I get iOS 11?
iOS 11 has an all new design for the App Store and Control Centre and much more (discover all of the new iOS 11 features here). And the good news is, you can get iOS 11 on your iPhone or iPad right now.
How? Apple has launched a developer beta as well as a public beta of iOS 11 for us to test. We'll explain how to get the beta of iOS 11 below.
However, we have to say it's not hugely worth the effort - the final release is due out tomorrow (19 September).
The risks of installing an iOS beta
Before we do though, there are basically one major down-side to grabbing a beta version of iOS early, it can break your iPhone or iPad.
The key thing her is to remember that if you take part in the public iOS beta programme you need to be willing to install a pre-release testing version of the next iOS update on you devices, bugs and all, and provide feedback on any bugs and issues that need to be ironed out.
We can't stress how important it is to back up your device before you download and install a beta version of iOS, or better still, use a secondary device that isn't your main iPhone or iPad to try the beta. Not only will that mean you won't lose everything if something goes wrong while the beta is installing, it also means you'll be able to go back to the last version should you find that you don't like the new software after all, or that it's too buggy.
We talk you through this process here: how to back up an iPhone or iPad.
It's a risky operation, but getting the iOS beta will give you some serious bragging rights among your Apple-loving friends, and let you decide for yourself whether you like the new features, so maybe its a price worth paying...
How to get the public beta of iOS 11
To sign up for and install the Public Beta of iOS 11 you'll need to follow these instructions:
- Click Sign Up on the Apple Beta page and register with your Apple ID
- Log in to the Beta Software Program
- Click Enroll your iOS device
- Go to beta.apple.com/profile on your iOS device
- Download and install the configuration profile.
- That will make the beta version available in the Settings app, under General, Software Update.
How to get the Developer Preview of iOS 11
Apple gets app developers to try out beta versions of iOS for a few months before it unleashes the final software on the public, and since the launch of iOS 9 it's also allowed the public try a beta. As we said above, these betas are test versions - unfinished versions of iOS with pretty much all the features that will make it into the official build, but probably with a few cosmetic differences… not to mention some glitches and problems that will need to be fixed.
In other words, don't expect a perfect user experience. In particular, don't expect existing apps (ones that you may rely on, and which may worked great with the previous version of iOS) to work perfectly with the new version. A huge issue for beta users of iOS 8, for example, was that WhatsApp was unusable, crashing upon opening.
But it could be worse than just a couple of apps not working right. Sometimes people find that certain models struggle to cope with a beta OS in any meaningful way, and you may find that your device is effectively bricked until the next beta comes out and fixes the problem. Experienced beta users always advise you to install a beta version of iOS on a secondary or spare device - an older (but still compatible) iPod touch rather than your main iPhone, say.
Anyway. If you know what you're getting into and still want to join the beta programme to get the most up-to-date beta versions, you can register as an Apple developer and join the iOS Developer Program, which costs $99 a year.
To sign up for and install the Developer Beta of iOS 11 you'll need to follow these instruction, but as before, we recommend that before downloading the beta you back up the device you're going to install the beta on. That way you can restore it fairly easily if something goes seriously wrong.
- Go to Apple's developer site and enrol using your Apple ID.
- Sign into the iOS Dev Center using the Apple ID you used in the previous step.
- Register your Apple device's UDID (the easiest way to find out your UDID is to plug the device into iTunes, click on the device's icon in the top right-hand corner, view the Summary tab and click on the Serial Number entry to get it to change to the UDID). Now you'll be able to download the appropriate version of the iOS beta for your hardware - select the exact iPhone, iPod touch or iPad model you're using from the list.
- Unzip the file that downloads to your Mac (this should produce a .IPSW file). Connect your device to iTunes (if it isn't already).
- Hold Alt (on a Mac - it's Shift on a PC) and click the Restore iPhone button on the device's Summary tab (next to Check for Update). Select the .IPSW file from the previous step. The iOS beta will be installed on your iPad or iPhone after a few minutes.
How to install the developer beta (if you're not a developer)
The beta version you'll get on your device if you're using the public beta discussed below won't be the most up-to-date version that developers have been testing. If you're desperate to have the latest build, there is another option available. Before we begin the how to, it's worth noting that once you update, none of the personal data accumulated on the firmware will be restorable if you later decide to downgrade again.
An easy way to get around this issue is to manually back up your device via iTunes before you upgrade, then exclusively use iCloud for backup once the upgrade is complete. This way, if you need to downgrade, you'll have a backup available - granted, it won't be the most up-to-date backup, but it's a better option than completely losing everything.
Step 1: Download the latest beta. These are usually released via the Apple Developers Portal, but you have to pay $99 a year to access this service (as discussed above). However there are also other sources that will supply users with the betas, with UDID.Co being one of the most popular online resources. It's important to consider carefully whether signing up to the Developer Beta this way is the right thing for you to do.
There are many versions of the beta available, and it's important to download the corresponding beta for your device - if you download the wrong beta, iTunes will first wipe the old version of iOS from your device before informing you that it's unable to install the selected iOS beta, which forces the device into DFU mode and requires a complete restore to fix. Some sites provide a service that uses your devices serial number to identify the correct beta to download.
Step 2: Download the latest version of iTunes. This is fairly straightforward - it's important to make sure that you're running the latest version of iTunes. You can download the latest version of iTunes via the Apple website, the App Store Updates tab on Mac or click Help > Check for Updates within iTunes for PC.
Step 3: Register your devices UDID. The UDID, or Unique Device Identifier, of your device has to be registered for developer use before installing the iOS beta. There are some reports that it isn't needed, but we think it's better to be safe rather than having to deal with UDID-related issues down the line.
You can either get an iOS developer friend to register your devices' UDID, or you can pay for it via UDID.co. If you're unsure of how to find the UDID of your device, you can follow our tutorial here.
Step 4: Back up your device. As mentioned earlier, we advise that you back up your device before installing the iOS beta because:
A) If anything goes wrong during the installation of the beta, you'll have a backup available - no harm done.
B) You won't be able to use any backups made with the new version of iOS with the old version, so if you downgrade with no backup, you'll have to completely wipe your iPhone.
This can be done by plugging your iPhone or iPad into iTunes, selecting the iPhone/iPad icon from the menu and then selecting 'Back Up Now'. It's also advised that you select 'iCloud' under the Backup menu as your automatic backup option as we don't want your backup being overwritten.
Step 5: Restore your device. Once you've followed the above steps and backed up your device, it's time to restore your iPhone to its factory settings. You can do this by clicking 'Restore iPhone/iPad' within iTunes with the device connected.
Though this step is advised by many publications online, we've installed the iOS beta on several of our devices without restoring our devices prior to the install and encountered no issues along the way.
Step 6: Install the beta. To install the iOS beta on your device, make sure it's plugged in to your computer and select it within iTunes. Next, while holding the Option (Alt) key on Mac/Shift key on Mac, click the 'Check for Update' button.
This should open a window where you can browse for the iOS beta .IPSW file that you downloaded earlier. Navigate to wherever you chose to save the .IPSW file, select it and click open. iTunes may display a notification informing you that you're installing the new version of iOS - just click OK, then the installation process should initiate.
Step 7: Wait. The install process can take a while - the important thing is to not unplug/turn off your device during the install, as it may corrupt the operating system and 'brick' your device.
Step 8: Slide to upgrade. Once the upgrade process is complete and your device has restarted, you'll be prompted with a 'Slide to upgrade' screen. Swiping this will again reboot your iPhone, but don't panic - it's normal. Once it has rebooted, you'll be greeted with the familiar 'Hello' welcome screen. Follow the on-screen instructions and you'll be successfully running the iOS beta on your iPhone or iPad.
What is the latest iOS 11 beta version?
Apple releases a series of increasingly polished betas leading up to a major iOS update; most of these will just fix a few bugs spotted in the previous beta - these may be detailed in the release notes - but some will add new features that hadn't been available before.
Apple will continue to release betas after iOS 11 launches, too. There will be a beta of iOS 11.1, for example, before it's made available to everyone.
Here is a summary of the changes and features added in the iOS 11 betas launched so far. If you'd like to install the iOS 11 beta on your iPhone or iPad read this.
iOS 11 Gold Master
The Gold Master of iOS 11 is likely to be released following the event on 12 September.
iOS 11 developer beta 10
The 10th beta rolled out on 6 September - this was only a developer beta.
iOS 11 developer beta 9
The 9th beta came out on 31 August.
iOS 11 developer beta 8
Developer beta 8 was rolled out on 28 August and at time of writing is the latest version.
iOS 11 developer beta 7
Beta 7 came out on 21 August.
Beta 6 is the latest version for developers that went out on 14 August. It brought visual changes to the App Store and Maps app icons, bringing a slightly overblown online outrage from fans of the old design. Luckily, it doesn't matter that much.
The Photos app now prompts you to notice the inclusion of Live Photo editing. Oddly, auto-brightness controls are now hidden away as an accessibility feature, a sign that Apple really doesn't want you to turn it off (doing so can negatively affect battery life).
And there's a new feature called SOS, which disables Touch ID in situations where you fear that you will be compelled to put your finger on the scanner - if you're mugged, arrested or whatever. You just have to press the power button five times and then swipe the new slider that appears. PocketNow has the details.
iOS 11 developer beta 5
Beta 5 was released on 7 August 2017. The biggest change is the removal of Messages in iCloud, a service introduced in an earlier iOS 11 beta that syncs your Messages across all devices, although Apple has confirmed that it will re-appear in a future update.
Along with the removal of Messages in iCloud, the Settings app and Camera app icons have been slightly tweaked, although it's nowhere as dramatic as the change that other icons went through in iOS 11 beta 4.
iOS 11 developer beta 4
Beta 4 was rolled out on 24 July 2017. There's a wide range of tweaks to the interface and look of iOS in this update, but no new features have been unlocked or added (that we're aware of).
A lot of icons have changed. Notes gets a simpler icon with two ruled lines instead of three; the Timer icon in Control Centre is now an outline instead of being filled in; Contacts' icon now features silhouettes of a man and a woman, instead of just a man; and Reminders' icon now has three dots instead of four.
The latter two both also appear to have been reversed, right to left. It's unclear if this change on the Reminders app in particular - with the dots now on the right, oddly - is a bug, or a reference to new support for right-to-left languages.
Photos and Notes both get new splash screens when you first open them that guide users through the new features.
Controversially, Apple has changed the Capacity entry under About in Settings to show the advertised storage allocation rather than the actual one.
Pull to refresh has been added to the App Store app's Updates tab. And you can swipe left or right on Notifications to View, Clear or Open.
Beta 3 was released on 10 July. (Public beta 2, which is essentially the same, appeared two days later.)
As well as the usual (and important) array of bug fixes it adds a number of more interesting minor features. Most intriguingly, hard-pressing the Screen Button in Control Centre offers a new broadcast option that hints at live streaming in future, although at the moment it just saves to the Camera Roll.
The Files app gets two new Locations: OS X Server and Dropbox. And there are some changes to the interface, including the restoration of 'swipe to close' in the iPad app switcher and a simplified way of viewing earlier notifications in Notification Centre.
iOS 11 developer beta 2
This was launched on 21 June.
Do Not Disturb While Driving got a little attention. You can now set it to switch on automatically when you connect to a car, or turn it on yourself in Control Centre. You can find out how to use Do Not Disturb While Driving here.
Control Centre itself is now handled slightly differently in Settings - it now has its own section there. And there are some new settings in Safari, in an Advanced section.
iOS 11 developer beta 1
This was launched on 5 June, after the keynote announcement of the new update.
What is the latest iOS 11 Public beta?
Apple has been issuing public betas to people who would like to test out the new version of iOS.
iOS 11 public beta 9
The 9th public beta came out on 6 September, the same day as developer beta 10.
iOS 11 public beta 8
This came out on 31 August, the same day as developer beta 9.
iOS 11 public beta 7
This came out on 28 August and is the same as developer beta 8.
iOS 11 public beta 6
Public beta 6 was released on 21 August.
iOS 11 public beta 5
Launched on 15 August; this is functionally identical to developer beta 6.
iOS 11 public beta 4
Launched on 8 August; this is functionally identical to developer beta 5.
iOS 11 public beta 3
Launched on 25 July; this is functionally identical to developer beta 4, which came out a day earlier.
iOS 11 public beta 2
This was launched on 12 July and largely matches the developer beta 3 launched on 10 July and discussed above.
iOS 11 public beta 1
This was launched on 26 June.