iOS 12 Is Here: Here's How to Download It

Staff Writer

After a lengthy beta period, iOS 12 is finally releasing to the public.

Credit: Tom's GuideCredit: Tom's Guide

The software update is now live, and users have two ways of installing it on their iPhone or iPad: either via an over-the-air download, or by connecting their device to a PC or Mac equipped with iTunes.

Apple is touting improved performance on older hardware with iOS 12. We tested a beta version of the update ourselves using an iPhone 6s, and found some modest gains in launching certain apps. According to Apple, some software and UI elements will open noticeably faster depending on the hardware. For example, the iPhone 6 Plus demonstrated 40 percent quicker app launches on certain occasions, based on the company's claims.

MORE: 10 Awesome Hidden iOS 12 Features

While Apple didn't reveal any previously unannounced features at its Sept. 12 iPhone event, there have been some changes since it introduced iOS 12 at WWDC over the summer. For one, Group FaceTime has been scrapped for the launch, and now instead will be issued in an update at a later date. The feature was performing poorly in betas, so it's not terribly surprising that it's been shelved for now.

What devices can install iOS 12?

iOS 12 supports every iPhone dating back to and including the iPhone 5s. The iPad mini 2 is the oldest tablet iOS 12 supports, while the sixth-generation iPod touch is the only iPod that will be able to run the new software.

How to install iOS 12 over the air

We recommend most users download iOS 12 wirelessly through their iPhones and iPads, as it’s the easiest way to get the software. Here’s how:

1. Back up your device. It’s generally a good idea to do this before any major software update, in case something goes wrong and you’d like to roll back to a previous version. You can start the backup process by going to Settings, and then tapping on your account at the top of the menu.

2. Tap iCloud.

3. Scroll down the page below most of the toggles, and tap iCloud Backup.

4. Tap Back Up Now. This process should only take a few minutes.

5. Now that you’ve backed up your device, you can start the update. Go back to the first screen in Settings, and tap General. Be advised that downloading the update will consume a lot of data, so you'll have to be on a Wi-Fi network to do it.

6. Tap Software Update.

7. Tap Download and Install, below the release notes for iOS 12.

8. Enter your passcode and agree to Apple’s terms of service. The software package will begin downloading, which will take a few minutes to complete.

9. Tap Install Now to begin installing iOS 12, once the software has been downloaded. Your phone will reboot, and when it starts again, it'll be updated with the new software.

How to install iOS 12 using a computer

If you’re unable to update over the air, you can always trigger the update via a PC or Mac equipped with iTunes. Here’s how:

1. Open iTunes.

2. Connect your iPhone or iPad to your computer using a USB cable.

3. Once your device is connected, click on the iPhone or iPad icon near the top of the application window to go to the screen where you can manage your device.

4. Click Back Up Now to manually back up the contents of your device to your computer. This will take a few minutes.

5. Click Update at the top of the screen. If there is no option to update, first click Check for Update, and afterwards an option should appear.

6. In the following dialog box, tap Install.

7. Agree to Apple's terms of service. At this point, you may be required to enter a passcode on your iPhone or iPad. Once you've done this, the software will begin downloading and your device will reboot to start updating. When it relaunches, you'll have iOS 12.