How to download the iOS 16 public beta

How to install the iOS 16 public beta
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iOS 16 has already arrived on an iPhone near you. But that doesn't mean the iOS 16 public beta is done and dusted. And if you're still interested in getting iOS 16 updates before they reach the general public, you can still download the iOS 16 public beta.

Even after Apple releases its major software updates, there are still subsequent updates. The just-released iOS 16.1 update, for example, was available in beta weeks before its general release. That meant you could try out features like the iCloud Shared Photo Library before anyone else.

Expect iOS 16 public betas to continue as Apple tests out future updates before pushing them out to all iPhones. If you want to be a part of that test process, 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. 

Be aware that while iOS public betas are pretty polished, they're still not fully complete. Installing any beta on your iPhone means assuming the risks of untested software, such as bugs, battery drain and apps not working quite right. If you're willing to live with that, though, seeing new iPhone features first can be very helpful.

Without further ado, here's how to join Apple's Beta Software Program and download the iOS 16 public beta. We've also got a guide on how to download and install iOS 16 if the regular software update is good enough for you, and you have no interest in betas.

How to install the iOS 16 public beta: Supported devices

iOS 16 supported devices aren't as numerous as the phones that were 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

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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

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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.

Next: Concerned about your iPhone's security? Learn how to enable iOS Lockdown Mode.

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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