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iOS 16 developer beta — how to download right now

iOS 16 logo on iPhone
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

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 week, you don't need to wait to take the software update out for a spin. And we're not talking about the public beta coming in July either.

You can grab the iOS 16 beta right now — if you're a registered developer with Apple. All of the software updates Apple showed off during WWDC, from macOS Ventura to watchOS 9 are available now so that developers can try out the new features and make sure they've got compatible apps ready to go in the fall.

Registering as an Apple developer doesn't just mean signing up for Apple's program. You also have to pay for the privilege. Developer registration costs $100 for the year, though some may consider that a small price to pay if it means early access to Apple software betas.

Personally, we don't think it's worth it for most people. The iOS 16 beta is still in its early stages, though Apple released developer beta 2 on June 22, which figures to smooth out some of the rough edges of the first beta. Nevertheless, you shouldn't install this version of the iOS 16 beta on an iPhone you rely on. 

Instead, we'd recommend waiting for the public beta coming in July — not only is it sure to be more stable than the current version developers are woking with, the public betas of Apple's software are free. 

Still, if you absolutely insist on going forward with downloading the iOS 16 developer beta, here's what you'll need to do to get it on your iPhone.

iOS 16 developer beta: Supported devices

Screenshot from YouTube showing an overview of the new features in iOS 16

(Image credit: Apple via YouTube)

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 developer beta

Assuming you've got a supported phone and an Apple developer account, 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 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.

1. On the iPhone you want to install iOS 16 on, go to developer.apple.com (opens in new tab) in your browser of choice.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

2. Sign into your developer account. You may be required to provide two-factor authentication.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

3. Click on the menu in the upper left corner, and select Downloads.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

4. Scroll down to find the iOS 16 beta, and click Install Profile. When prompted, confirm that you want to install a configuration profile on your phone.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

5. Once the iOS 16 profile is download, you'll be prompted to go to Settings to review it. Launch Settings and select View Profile.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

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

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

7. You'll be prompted 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.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

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

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

9. 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 developer 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 beta: What about the public beta?

As noted, Apple is planning to release a public beta in July, and that version will be free to anyone. The iOS 16 public beta figures to be more stable than the developer beta, though you should still avoid installing it on a phone you use every day, as some of your apps may not be compatible right away.

To participate in the public beta, you do need to enroll in Apple's public beta program. On the iPhone you plan to use to beta test the software, go to beta.apple.com/sp/betaprogram/ (opens in new tab) and click the sign up button. You can also follow that step when the public beta comes out.

iOS 16 beta: What to expect

Apple previewed iOS 16 during this month's Worldwide Developer Conference. Highlight 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.

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.