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How to install the iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and watchOS 9 public beta

Want to dive into iOS 16 before it is publicly available? Here’s how.

ios 16 icon with blurred iphone in background
Image: KnowTechie

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If you own an iPhone or iPad and can’t wait to try out iOS 16, the latest mobile operating system from Apple, or an Apple Watch and want to see what watchOS 9 will bring, you can install the public beta.

Before you rush off to install the beta, just know that while it’s pretty stable from my testing, you might not want to run it on your primary device.

Everything from apps you rely on not working to random reboots, to issues with AirPods could all happen while it’s in the beta stages, so just make sure you’re okay with that before you continue.

If you’re okay with some (possible) interruptions with iOS over the next few months, here’s how to install the iOS 16 beta, iPad 16 beta, or watchOS 9 beta on your devices.

How to install the iOS 16 beta

ios 15 photo app
Image: KnowTechie

As always, the first step is ensuring your device will be supported by iOS 16. This year, you’ll need an iPhone 8 or newer.

Any Apple Watch newer than the Series 4 can run watchOS 9, and anything newer than the iPad 5th gen will run iPadOS 16 when it is eventually released, from the 11-inch iPad Pro (all three generations) to the iPad Air (3rd and 4th gen), or any of the other iPad Pro sizes.

Apple’s watchOS 9 also needs iOS 16 on the iPhone the Apple Watch is paired to, so you’ll want to update that first.

Then it’s time to back up your device to iCloud, just in case you need to revert back to iOS 15 in the future.

Backup your stuff:

  1. Open Settings > Tap your Apple ID at the top of the screen
ios settings apple id
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Once inside your account, go to iCloud
ios settings icloud
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Scroll down to iCloud Backup and turn the option on
icloud backups on iphone
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Then tap Back up now
screenshot of icloud backup options with an arrow pointing at backup now
Image: KnowTechie

That works for your iPhone and iPad. Your Apple Watch will also be backed up, as those automatically back up to the iPhone they’re paired to.

Update your device to iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and watchOS 9

apple beta software program
Image: Apple
Open Safari while on your iPad or iPhone, and go to Apple’s Beta Software Program site. You need to do this on Safari as it won’t work on any other browser. Sign in with your Apple ID information and agree to the terms & conditions.image of apple beta website shown on an iphone
Then enroll your device iPhone/iPad by tapping the ^ menu button, then Enroll Your Devices
screenshot of apple beta program website showing the menu option for enrolling your devices
Scroll down to the Install Profile section of the website, tap on Download Profile and tap Allow on the pop-up
screenshot of apple beta program website showing the download button for a profile
Once downloaded, go to Settings and tap the new section at the top, Profile Downloaded. 
screenshot of ios settings showing a beta profile has been downloaded
Then install the profilescreenshot of ios beta profile installation
Your iPad/iPhone will then restart to finish the profile install
Once the restart is finished, go back to Settings > General > Software Update to install the iOS 16 Public Beta updateios 14 settings software update for iphone

Apple Watch users

To update your Apple Watch, you need to pick your iPhone up and go to Watch app > General > Software Update once you have the watchOS 9 configuration profile downloaded

You’ll now be on the iOS 16 beta, and your device will get any updates of iOS 16 over the air, so you don’t have to do anything manually.

iOS 16 is almost here

You’ll probably get an update every two weeks before the full release, or maybe less frequently as COVID-19 precautions have slowed down development time everywhere.

Enjoy using the new features ahead of everyone else before the full release of iOS 16 in the fall. The new update includes a bunch of features, including iMessage edits, emoji lockscreens, and more.

What do you think? Plan on checking out the iOS 16 beta? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Maker, meme-r, and unabashed geek with nearly half a decade of blogging experience at KnowTechie, SlashGear and XDA Developers. If it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't), Joe probably has one around his office somewhere, with particular focus in gadgetry and handheld gaming. Shoot him an email at joe@knowtechie.com.

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