Apple’s next iteration of iOS probably won’t be fully cooked and ready to serve until sometime in September, but you can get in on the fun as early as July if you know what to do.
The public beta for iOS 14 doesn’t have an exact release date yet, but Apple has said it’s coming sometime this month. When that happens, there are some pretty simple steps you can take to hop on the beta bandwagon. You’ll get to test an unfinished, constantly evolving version of the new iOS before the rest of the world.
Before you can do that, though, you’ll need to do a few easy things first.
Make sure your device supports iOS 14
First up, you need an iPhone that actually works with the new iOS. The short version is that anything newer than an iPhone 6 will work, but here’s the full list of compatible devices:
iPod Touch (7th generation)
iPhone SE (1st and 2nd generation)
iPhone 6s and 6s Plus
iPhone 7 and 7 Plus
iPhone 8 and 8 Plus
iPhone XS and XS Max
iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max
If you don’t have any of those, you’re out. Sorry!
Create a backup
A beta version of new software could, theoretically, mess up your phone real bad. It’s not finished, after all. On the macOS side of things, a beta build a couple of years ago once made a bunch of apps stop working because they weren’t compatible. If you want to avoid this or dealing with bugs in general, Apple recommends making a backup of your iPhone as it exists with iOS 13 before you take the iOS 14 plunge. There are multiple ways to do this, but it might be best to do it on a Mac or Windows computer.
Mac users need to connect their phone to their computer via USB. If you’re on macOS Catalina, open Finder and find your iPhone in the sidebar. Click “General” in the Finder window and select the option to back up your iPhone’s data to the Mac. Encrypt your data with a password and click the “Back Up Now” button.
Windows users need to connect their iPhones via USB and open the iTunes app. Hit the iPhone button in the upper left part of the iTunes window, click “Summary,” and then click “Back Up Now.” You can also encrypt your data with a password, if you want. Can’t hurt!
Enroll your device and install the beta
Alright, get off your computer and pick up that iPhone. Open Safari (this worked better than Chrome for me) and go to Apple’s beta website. It’s pretty straightforward from here because Apple cleanly spells out exactly what to do each step of the way. Scroll down until you see a “Get Started” button and click that.
On the next page, scroll down until you see a link to enroll your device in Apple’s beta program. That’ll take you to a page that tells you to make a backup. If you’re a good listener, you’ve already done that. If not, scroll up just a little bit.
There will also be a button to download a configuration profile. Hit that, wait for the download to finish, and then go into your Settings app. You should see a new button that says “Profile Downloaded” near the top of the Settings menu. Go to that and install it because that profile will allow you to download the actual beta.
The last step is the easiest. Simply go back to the main Settings menu, hit General, and go to Software Update. If you’ve correctly installed the configuration profile, you’ll be able to download the newest beta build. At the time of writing, this is an iOS 13 beta build, but when the iOS 14 public beta hits, you’ll find it here.
And that’s it! Again, you’ll have to wait until the beta is actually available before this works as intended. If you do it before then, you’ll just get a beta build for the version of iOS you already have, which is not nearly as cool as testing out the future. Just remember to please make a backup and don’t get mad at us if you don’t and something happens to your phone.
In case you haven’t followed the news, iOS 14 packs a handful of neat new features. The App Library screen will organize all your apps into a more digestible view, and you’ll be able to add widgets for things like weather onto any home screen tab alongside regular app icons. You’ll also be able to tap the back of your phone to perform some commands and finally change the default browser and email settings. That’s change we can get behind.