Apple revealed the first glimpse of iOS 12 at WWDC 2018 on June 4, and if you want to try out all of its new features before everyone else gets the stable release in September, you can install one of the betas on your iPhone right now.
Released first to developers over eight and a half months after iOS 11 hit everyone's devices last September, iOS 12 for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch will eventually be made available to the public as well via Apple's Beta Software Program. So, whether you're a registered Apple developer or just someone who wants to install the public beta, we'll cover both methods below.
Before you jump the gun and set up your iPhone with the latest and greatest from Apple, though, there's some housekeeping you need to take care of first. While not necessary, skipping an archived backup could be more trouble than the time it takes to complete. Unless, of course, you enjoy losing all of your data.
The new mobile operating system by Apple has actually just broke update cycle records since this is the sixth major iOS version to be compatible with the iPhone 5S. Previously, the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 both lasted a total of five major OS versions.
- iPhone 5S, 6, 6 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus, SE, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus, X
- iPad Air, Air 2, mini 2, mini 3, mini 4, Pro (12.9 inch), Pro (9.7 inch), iPad (9.7 inch, 5th and 6th gen), Pro (10.5 inch)
- iPod touch (6th gen)
In these instructions, we'll assume you're updating an iPhone, but the process is the same for all compatible iOS devices, i.e., a compatible iPad and iPod touch.
If your experience with iOS 11 was buggy, you might want those days to be far behind you. We get it. But if you're going to make the dive into iOS 12 beta, you'll want to keep a backup of your iPhone as it currently stands. If something goes wrong during beta testing and you don't have a backup, you won't be able to return to iOS 11 without losing everything on your iPhone.
After backing up with iTunes, select "iTunes" in the menu bar, followed by "Preferences," then click the "Devices" tab. Locate and right-click on your backup in the list, then select "Archive" to protect it. From now on, when you back up your iPhone with iOS 12, that backup will be saved separately, leaving your archived iOS 11 backup untouched and able to be restored if something should happen.
Of course, this method is only useful for as long as Apple signs iOS 11. Once Apple declares iOS 11 a relic of the past, which will be around October 2018, your archive is as good as gone — unless you back up your SHSH2 blobs. With this method, you can trick iTunes into letting you restore an iPhone to an unsigned version of iOS. It's a bit more intensive than the above step, but it better protects your archive.
Developers gain access to iOS betas earlier than the public, as well as receive release notes containing the changes that come with each update. The developer beta for iOS 12 dropped shortly after WWDC's keynote ended, so just use these instructions to download and install the beta as soon as possible:
- Register your iPhone's UDID with your dev account, if not done so already.
- Plug your iPhone in to charge it and connect to Wi-Fi.
- On your iPhone, visit developer.apple.com/download.
- Sign into your developer account.
- If you have two-factor authentication on your account, verify your identity as instructed.
- Tap "Download" next to the iOS 12 beta.
- On the popup, "Allow" the website to open up your Settings.
- Tap "Install" on the .mobileconfig profile and follow the subsequent prompts.
- When prompted, select "Restart" to restart your iPhone.
- Once your iPhone is running the iOS 12 developer profile, you can check the "Software Update" section in your device's "General" settings to install new beta versions.
Note, if you're installing iOS 12 beta on multiple devices, you will need to first add all their UDIDs to the dev site so that they are registered, then you can just send them the .mobileconfig profile to install via email, AirDrop, etc.
Before you can start testing iOS 12 on your iPhone, you need to enroll in the Apple Beta Software Program. Unfortunately, the public beta won't be available until late-June, meaning you'll either need access to a developer account (above) or you'll just have to wait until the public beta comes out.
Once the public beta is released, however, here's what you'll need to do in order to download and install it on your iPhone:
- On your iPhone, visit beta.apple.com.
- Tap the "Sign Up" button.
- Sign in using your Apple ID and password.
- Enroll your device at beta.apple.com/profile.
- Make an archived backup if you haven't done so already.
- Tap the "Download profile" button.
- Go to Settings –> General –> Software Update.
- Finish downloading and installing the iOS 12 beta.
Welcome to the iOS 12 beta! To see everything you can do with your new system, check out our roundup of cool iOS 12 features. Let us know in the comments below any and all bugs and glitches you may experience. And if they become too much for you to bear, you can always downgrade back to iOS 11.4.