There are new iOS 9 features set to premier next week, but you don’t have to wait till then before you test them out.
Apple has launched an iOS 9 public beta, which gives everyone access to the iPhone and iPad update a little early. The company’s instructions, however, aren’t very comprehensive.
That’s why we can’t really wait until September 16 or September 25 when the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus would be launched, went through the process several times and created this handy a how to guide.
It would take a few attempts to install iOS 9 due to everyone taxing Apple’s servers all at once, but the new features outweigh those temporary problems and minor beta bugs.
Compatible iPhone and iPad devices
iOS 9 works with newer iPhones and iPads, which translates to all Apple phones and tablets that have since launched 2011.
That’s really a good news because it means the iOS 9 works with almost all the devices, including the iPhone 4S, iPad 2 and even the iPod Touch 5th generation.
If your devices can run iOS 8, it can also run iOS 9. Easy. This is where Apple’s mobile operating system really cuts into the fragmented Android platform.
Backup your iPhone and iPad first
It’s better to use a lightning cable to manually backup to iTunes instead of relying on a Wi-Fi connection or iCloud. It’s just faster and more reliable.
It’s a little more complicated for New MacBook 2015 owners who have to resort to a USB Type C adapter, but it’s well worth the extra effort just in case.
Plug your iPhone or iPad into a PC, open iTunes if it doesn’t automatically launch and select the tiny iPhone icon in the top left of Apple’s confusingly designed music software.
iTunes’ iPhone menu includes a “Backup” pane in the middle of this page. Select the “This computer” radio button instead of iCloud for the most secure backup method. You can switch it back afterward.
Archive before downloading iOS 9
Once you are done backing up, double check that it worked and archive it in the Preferences menu. Click on File in the top menu, Preferences, the Devices tab and right click on the latest backup.
Select “Archive” to isolate this backup file so that it’s not replaced by future backups. If you’re extra cautious: You can click “Show in Finder” to locate the folder (with a funny gibberish name) and drop it into an external hard drive.
Download iOS 9 beta software profile
Select Download Profile from beta.Apple.com/profile via your device’s Safari mobile browser, not your PC. It also won’t work on Chrome for iOS or any other browser from the App Store. It is tested and trusted, it only works with Safari mobile browser.
You may have to log into your Apple account in order to access this page. You’ll know it worked once it asks you to “Choose a Device” in a menu. Select iPhone or iPad. Installing it on Apple Watch does nothing at the moment since there’s no WatchOS 2 public beta.
Select “Install” in the top right corner of the iOS 9 beta software profile menu and enter your phone or tablet’s passcode. Agree to the consent form you’ll never actually read and hit Install.
A restart is required in order to apply the changes, so select “Restart” in order to make that happen. The profile is now installed and you’re ready to update to iOS 9.
Download iOS 9 public beta
Navigate to the Settings menu, select General, Software Update and you’ll see iOS 9 Public Beta 1. Download and install this 1.4 GB file, which thankfully requires less free space than iOS 8’s 4 GB.
This prompts you for your passcode once more and asks you to read over Terms and Conditions you’ll blindly agree to, anyway.
You may see “Update Requested…” and have to wait several minutes for Apple’s servers to deliver the beta firmware update.
Install iOS 9 beta
When you are done download the iOS 9 beta onto your device, you’ll see a prompt to install the software update. It’ll automatically install in 10 seconds if you don’t select “Later” or “Update” first.
It’ll read “Verifying update…” and don’t be alarmed if it fails. My first four iOS 9 beta install attempts came back with “Unable to Install Update,” telling me “An error occurred install iOS 9 Beta 1.” Try, try and try again.
After three increasingly attempts at re-hitting “Install Now,” the verification finally went through and my iPhone restarted on its own.
The install and restart took close oto 20 minutes, leaving me in the all-too-familiar iOS update white screen limbo until it completed.
Setup iOS 9
There are many subtle new iOS 9 features that you won’t come up at first. This isn’t a full blown refresh like iOS 7 was, and isn’t as feature-rich as iOS 8. It’s more about stability this time around.
However, you will notice a big change to the Spotlight Search menu that lies to the left of the home screens, and you can enable new Siri suggestions, nearby attractions and news items.
iOS 9 beta troubleshooting
Sometimes, Apple’s servers takes lots of time to deliver the install file. Downloading it on an iPhone during non-peak hours helped alleviate this problem. Failed verifications presented the same issue.
Don’t fret if the iOS 9 update takes up to a half hour to install and restart your device. You won’t be able to use it at that time. That’s all normal, too.
What simply waiting a few minutes can’t fix are the inevitable bugs you’ll see with the iOS 9 public beta. A few app crashes and design glitches (see the search bar running into the top status bar). But that just defines being an early adopter.