The current version of Apple's iPhone and iPad software - iOS 11 - arrived on 19 Sept 2017, and iOS 12 will be here in the autumn of 2018; both add dozens of cool new features. And there are lots of smaller point updates in between, adding tweaks and important security fixes.
In this article we show how to download, install and run the latest version of iOS on your iPhone and iPad, as well as how to fix any problems you may encounter. (If these issues prove especially tricky, take a look at What to do if you can't update iOS.)
We'll start with some important preparation steps; but you can jump to the update process if you prefer. And if you'd rather install a pre-release beta version of iOS - which at time of writing is the only way to access iOS 12 - then turn to How to install an iOS beta.
Prepare your device to update
Before you update iOS, we recommend that you...
1) Back up your data
Use iCloud or iTunes to back up your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.
2) Save a copy of the old version of iOS
This is a long shot, and fiddly, so you may want to skip this. But if you change your mind and want to downgrade to the previous version, this will be easier if you make sure you've saved a copy. (And bear in mind that a lot of the time it isn't possible even then!)
Look in Library/iTunes and select the Software Updates folder for your device. (Access the Library folder in your user folder by holding down the Option/Alt key in Finder and selecting Go > Library.) If your Mac has deleted this file, launch your web browser and search for download ipsw. Make sure you get the right one for your device.
3) Make space for the download
See our guide to making room on your iPhone or iPad. Alternatively, you can update iOS via iTunes and save yourself the trouble; and iOS itself may offer to temporarily delete apps from your device to make room, then reinstall them after the update is complete.
4) Plug in your device
If you're at 50% power or lower, you'll need to plug your device into a power source, and this isn't a bad idea in any case. Running out of power mid-download can foul up the update.
5) Connect to Wi-Fi
Be sure that you're downloading over Wi-Fi and not via 3G or 4G, or you may end up running out of data.
- Go to Settings > General > Software Update. iOS will check if there's a new version.
- If there is, iOS will offer details about the new update.
- Tap Download and Install, and enter your passcode when prompted, and agree to the terms & conditions.
- Your device will download the update in the background, and you can carry on with other things. Once the download has finished you will receive a notification saying an update is available for your device.
- Tap Details. This will take you back to Settings > General > Software Update.
- Tap Install Now. The iPhone or iPad will now start to install the iOS update. (It may take a while.)
- Alternatively, you can select Later. iOS will offer to update during the night - you just need to make sure the device is plugged in.
How to upgrade iOS from a beta version
If you previously tried out a beta version of iOS ahead of its full release, you should note that in order to get upcoming non-beta iOS releases you will need to remove the Apple configuration 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. From now on you will receive official updates (rather than beta updates) as normal.