The iOS 9.3 public beta lets you preview new and interesting features—but beta still means beta.
iOS 9 marked the first time Apple has ever released a new version of the iPhone and iPad operating system as a public beta. With iOS 9.3, Apple is once again letting almost everyone test out the new features and provide feedback before it goes into wide release this spring. But it also means people will have to go through the public beta download and install process. While it's not complicated, it is different. So, we're going to walk you through it and give you a place to ask questions if you need extra help.
Warning: Beta means beta. This isn't an early access program. It's pre-release software. That means put it on a secondary device if you have one and, if you don't, think really hard before installing it on your primary device. If you rely on your iPhone or iPad for critical communications or to run your life or business, you may want to stay clear until the official release this fall.
- How to make an archived back up your iPhone or iPad
- How to register your account for the iOS 9.3 public beta
- How to enroll your iPhone or iPad in the iOS 9.3 public beta
- How to install the iOS 9.3 public beta
- How to get started with iOS 9.3 public beta
How to make an archived back up your iPhone or iPad
Before you begin, make sure you back up your iPhone or iPad. While the beta process is fairly straight forward, any time you make any significant change to your device you risk problems. And with your personal data, it's always—always!—better to be safe than sorry. Even if you back up every night, you'll want to make sure it's absolutely up-to-date.
- Plug iPhone or iPad into your Mac or Windows PC.
- Launch iTunes.
- Click on the iPhone or iPad icon in the menu bar when it appears.
- Make sure backup is set to This Computer. (And enable Encrypted backup — it's worth it!)
- Click on Back Up Now. (Click on Encrypt Backup and add a password — you want the security.)
- Back up Apps, if asked.
- Press Command, to open Preferences. (Or go to iTunes in the menu bar and click on Preferences.
- Click on the Devices tab.
- Option-click on your Backup and choose Archive.
Archiving will prevent your iOS 8.4 backup from being overwritten by an iOS 9 backup in the future, should you want to revert for any reason.
How to register your account for the iOS 9.3 public beta
If you've already joined a public beta for OS X, you don't need to register again for iOS 9.3, simply sign in with the same Apple ID. If you've never joined a public beta before, you'll need to start by signing up with your Apple ID.
- Go to beta.apple.com on the iPhone or iPad you want to enroll in the beta.
- Tap on Sign up to get started. (If you've already signed up for a previous public beta, tap on Sign in and skip to "How to enroll your device", below.)
- Enter you Apple ID email address and password.
- Tap Sign in.
- Tap Accept to agree to the terms and conditions.
Once you're signed up and signed in, it's time to start downloading.
How to enroll your iPhone or iPad in the iOS 9.3 public beta
Unlike regular iOS updates, where you just tap and start downloading, or developer betas, where you download a whole new version of iOS and install it old school style, Apple is using configuration profiles to validate devices for the iOS 9.3 public beta.
- Go to beta.apple.com, if you're not there already.
- Tap the iOS tab, if it's not highlighted already.
- Tap on Download profile.
- Tap on Install at the top right.
- Enter your Passcode.
- Tap on Install, this time to consent to the beta agreement. (Read it: There are risks to any beta.)
- Tap on Install at the bottom to confirm. (Yes, you need to be really sure.)
- Tap on Restart to reboot your device.
Once your iPhone or iPad has finished rebooting, it should start to download iOS 9.3 automatically. From this point on, the process is the same as any other iOS update.
How to install the iOS 9.3 public beta
You'll get a notification when iOS 9.3 is downloaded and ready to install, but you can also go to Software Update at any time.
- Tap on Details to go to Software update. (Or, Launch Settings from your Home screen, tap on General, then tap on Software Update.)
- Tap on Install Now.
- Enter your Passcode.
- Tap Agree to the Terms and Conditions.
- Tap Agree again to confirm.
Your iPhone or iPad will reboot install iOS 9. There will be a couple progress bars going across the screen. Sit tight and let everything finish.
How to get started with iOS 9.3 public beta
Once your iPhone or iPad reboots, it'll be running iOS 9.3. There's a brief bit of setup you'll need to go through, however, as the system will have changed enough that it'll need your login to complete the update.
Note: I actually didn't have to do this, it just rebooted straight into 9.3. In case it does make you log back in, here's how.
- Tap Continue.
- Enter your Apple ID password. iCloud settings will update, so give it a minute.
- Tap Get Started.
Once that's done, you'll be on the Home screen and ready to rock iOS 9.3.
What's new, and what if you don't like it?
There's a new Night Shift mode, Touch ID security for Notes, greater personalization for News, app discovery in Health, Apple Music and Nearby for CarPlay, and a new education experience for iOS.
To help ease your way into everything, make sure you check out our iOS 9.3 FAQ for all the details!
And, if you ultimately decide iOS 9.3 isn't for you, you can still downgrade back to iOS 9.2.