Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June is where the company previews all the new features coming to the next versions of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS. For most of us, that means there are three months of waiting before we actually get to play around with those new features when the upgrades roll out in September. But those who are brave can actually test out the new features before everyone else via the public beta, which are out now for iOS 14 and iPadOS 14.
Installing the public beta isn’t hard, but there are a few caveats you should be aware of. Namely, these are unfinished versions of next-generation software and therefore, you absolutely run the risk of borking your phone or tablet. (It has happened to yours truly. It was a bad time.)
First, you need to check whether your device will support iOS 14 or iPadOS 14. Here’s a handy list of the phones and tablets that will work:
- iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max
- iPhone XS, XS Max, XR
- iPhone X
- iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus
- iPhone 7, 7 Plus
- iPhone SE
- iPhone 6S, 6S Plus
- iPhone SE (Both versions are covered)
- iPhone Touch (7th gen)
- All iPad Pros
- 5th, 6th, 7th gen iPads
- iPad mini 4 and 5
- iPad Air (3rd gen) and iPad Air 2
If you have one of these, then you’re all set to get started with backing up your shit. It bears repeating that these are not finished versions of iOS 14 or iPadOS 14. Apps might not work the way you expect, and if you’re not one of those people who keeps their old phones as a backup device, you could end up losing important data if something goes awry.
You can back up your device to iCloud, which is relatively painless, or to your Mac or PC, which is a bit more complicated. In the past, backups used to be done through iTunes, but with macOS Catalina, the process is a bit different.
First, plug in your device to your Mac. Then open a new Finder window, and locate your device in the sidebar. When prompted, hit the Trust button and enter your passcode. Once that’s done, click the General tab and then select the Back Up Now button. (If you want an encrypted backup, before you hit the Back Up Now button be sure to check the Encrypt local backup box in the General tab.)
If you’re on Windows, you still have to go through iTunes. Thankfully, the process isn’t that complicated. Just plug your phone in to your PC and hit the iPhone button in the top left of the iTunes window. After that, click Summary and then Back Up Now. Windows users also have the option to encrypt backups—you just have to make sure to click Encrypt local backup and Set Password.
Now that you’re a responsible adult with a backup, you can mosey on over to the Apple Beta Software Program site on your device. From there on, it’s pretty straightforward—Apple provides clear, step-by-step instructions for how to enroll your device. After you hit the sign-up button, you’ll be prompted to enter your Apple ID and go through 2FA. The final bit of the process involves downloading a configuration profile on your device, installing it, and then hitting the Software Update button in the General tab in your device’s Settings menu.
The process is pretty much the same for iPad—enroll via the beta site, back up your data (the process is the same here too), download the configuration profile, install, and then update.
And that’s it! Go forth and test out all the cool stuff in iOS 14. Or, if you’re still undecided, you can read our preview of iOS 14 so you know what to expect.