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How to download the iOS 16 public beta

How to install the iOS 16 public beta
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

iOS 16 is coming to an iPhone near you this fall, when Apple ships the finished version of its mobile software update. But if you're the least bit curious about all the iOS 16 features previewed during WWDC 2022 last month and available to developers, you don't need to wait to take the software update out for a spin. 

You can download the iOS 16 public beta right now. All of the software updates Apple showed off during WWDC, from macOS Ventura to watchOS 9 are available now so that the public can try out the new features and make sure everything is ready to go in the fall. 

The iOS 16 public beta launch follows the release of a developer beta earlier this summer. (In fact, iOS 16 developer beta 3, released in early July appears to be the same as the public beta Apple is rolling out right now.) The public beta is kind of like the next testing step, allowing iOS 16 to be tested by a wider group of users.

The public beta should be more stable than the developer beta, and Apple offers public betas for free. (To get the developer beta, you need to be a registered developer, which costs $100 a year.) Even though Apple considers the beta stable enough for the public, we'd still advise putting iOS 16 on a spare iPhone for now, as not every app you rely on may work with the new update.

You'll first need to sign up to the Apple Beta Software Program, and then follow a few steps to get everything installed, all of which we'll take you through. Without further ado, here's how to install the iOS 16 public beta. 

How to install the iOS 16 public beta: Supported devices

iOS 16 supported devices aren't as numerous as the phones that are able to run iOS 15. You'll need an iPhone 8 or later for iOS 16. That means the original iPhone SE, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus and the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are all out, after supporting iOS 15. The 7th gen iPod touch won't be able to run iOS 16, either.

How to download the iOS 16 public beta

Assuming you've got a supported phone, you should first backup your iPhone before you go any further. With an archived backup of your iPhone, you can always revert to the old version if things don't go as planned.

We've got instructions on how to back up your iPhone, whether it's to iCloud or to a computer. We'd recommend the latter for backing up before a beta download.

Once your iPhone is backed up, you're ready to begin.

The first step will be to sign up to the Apple Beta Software Program.

1. On your iOS device, go to the Beta Software Program page (opens in new tab) in your browser and log in or sign up. (If you're signing up to the Beta Software Program, just follow the onscreen instructions for registering your device — you'll just need your Apple ID.)

iOS 16 public beta installation

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

2. Once you're signed in, go to the iOS 16 section and scroll down until you see Download Profile — tap that button. When prompted, confirm that you want to install a configuration profile on your phone.

ios 16 installation guide download profile

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

3. Once the profile is downloaded, you'll be prompted to head to Settings. There will be an alert at the top of the Settings app about the Profile. Tap View Profile.

iOS 16 installation guide view profile in settings

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

4. On the subsequent page, tap Install in the upper right corner to begin the installation process. After entering your passcode to confirm, you'll see some legalese about the volatile nature of beta software, you'll need to tap to Install once more.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

5. You'll be prompted to install the software again — Apple really wants you to be sure you want this beta on your phone — followed by a prompt to restart your iPhone so that the profile can install. Make sure to plug your iPhone into a power source, as this step can take awhile.

ios 16 installation guide install and restart

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

6. After your iPhone restarts, jump into the Settings app, and select General followed by Software Update.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

7. The iOS 16 beta will be there waiting for you. Tap Download and Install, then enter your passcode when prompted. You'll have to tap Install once more to confirm.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

iOS 16 will then begin installing. After a restart, your phone will be running the iOS 16 public beta.

The process is much simpler once you install that initial beta. Subsequent updates will be available through the Software Update section of the Settings app. Just head there to download any new versions of the iOS 16 beta if you're already running a version of that iPhone software.

iOS 16 public beta: What to expect

Apple previewed iOS 16 during June's Worldwide Developer Conference. Highlights of the new release include changes to the lock screen that let you customize it, the ability to edit text messages in the Messages app, and new mobile payment features in Wallet. The Maps, Photos, Notes and Safari apps all gain new features as well. You can get our first impressions in our iOS 16 public beta hands-on review.

We've looked at some of the hidden iOS 16 changes that haven't gotten as much publicity while also previewing the new lock screen, Maps updates, Siri changes and more.

Next: One of our staffers declares that the two apps he can't live without work better together.

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.

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