iOS 11 is officially available to the public now. We won't see the next version announced until WWDC in Summer 2018, at which point you will be able to follow our instructions below in order to get iOS 12 running on your iPhone or iPad. This will allow you to try new features in the upcoming OS.

The Developer Beta for iOS 12 will be available in Summer 2018 following Apple's WWDC. A public beta will follow shortly after, and the final version should come in mid- to late-September 2018.

In the meantime, if you downloaded the beta of iOS 11, you should now have the full version of the software - that's because both the Golden Master and the public release have the same build number. 

But if you want to receive subsequent iOS 11 updates, you'll need to remove the beta profile from your device.

You can do this by going to Settings > General > Profile and selecting iOS Beta Software Profile, then choosing Delete Profile and entering your passcode to confirm the change.

The risks of installing an iOS beta

There is a major down side to grabbing a beta version of iOS early: it can break your iPhone or iPad.

The key thing here 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 iOS 12 public beta

Once it is available in summer 2018, to sign up for and install the Public Beta of iOS 12 you'll need to follow these instructions:

  1. Click Sign Up on the Apple Beta page and register with your Apple ID
  2. Log in to the Beta Software Program
  3. Click Enroll your iOS device
  4. Go to beta.apple.com/profile on your iOS device
  5. Download and install the configuration profile.
  6. That will make the beta version available in the Settings app, under General, Software Update.

How to get the Developer Preview of iOS 12

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 to 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 12 once it becomes available you'll need to follow these instructions 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.

  1. Go to Apple's developer site and enrol using your Apple ID.
  2. Sign into the iOS Dev Center using the Apple ID you used in the previous step.
  3. 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.
  4. Unzip the file that downloads to your Mac (this should produce a .IPSW file). Connect your device to iTunes (if it isn't already).
  5. 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.