Apple’s Craig Federighi first outlined all the features coming to iOS 11 at WWDC. Now, after a public beta and the big iPhone 8 and X reveal, Cupertino’s lastest mobile OS is finally coming to iPhones and iPads.
With iOS 11, you can kick your Venmo habit and iMessage your friends money with Apple Pay, have Siri translate for you as you sightsee in Rome, and multitask so much on your iPad Pro that you’ll never pick up your laptop again.
Unlike Android users, who are largely at the mercy of their carriers for OS updates, Apple pushes out new versions of iOS to anyone with a compatible phone all at once. That’s why 89 percent of iOS users are on iOS 10 as of Sept. 6, while only about 16 percent of Android users are sampling Nougat as of Sept. 11. If you’re ready to see what iOS 11 has to offer, here’s how to upgrade.
When iOS 11 arrives, you’ll either get a pop-up alert on your iOS device or you can navigate to Settings > General > Software Update to force a manual update.
Apple has been providing its major iOS releases through over-the-air updates for years now, and has ironed out the kinks. But it’s always a good idea to back up your data, which can be done via your phone or PC.
Once that’s done, return to the Software Update page and select Download and Install. If you have a passcode, you’ll be prompted to enter it. Agree to Apple’s terms and then…wait. You’ll see Update Requested on the screen, which means Apple has added you to its download queue. Once it starts downloading, you’ll see a time estimate bar up top; how long you’ll wait depends on how many people are trying to upgrade. Your phone will then need to reboot, which could also take a few minutes.
If there’s not enough room on your iOS device, you’ll get a message asking to temporarily remove apps. Hit Continue and the apps will be restored when the installation is finished. If you have trust issues, hit Cancel and remove apps manually before returning to the update.
If you need your phone during the day, there’s also the option to Install Tonight, which will do exactly that—install iOS 11 while you sleep, provided your device is plugged in.
If you have an older iPhone, you might want to consider a hardware upgrade; iOS 11 is compatible with iPhone 5s and higher, iPad mini 2 and up, and the 6th-gen iPod touch. The shift to 64-bit apps means the 2012 iPhone 5, the 4th-generation iPad, or the 2013 iPhone 5c have to remain on iOS 10.
It also means that 32-bit apps won’t work with iOS devices running iOS 11. If you want to see if any of your beloved apps are in danger, go to Settings > General > About > App Compatibility, which will list apps that “may slow down your phone and will not work with future version of iOS if they are not updated.” (If all your apps are safe, you won’t see an “App Comptability” option in the About section).
Become an Apple Developer
Of course, iOS 11 is not the end of the road for iOS development. If you’re itching to get your hands on the earliest versions of Apple’s mobile software, you’ll need to join the Apple Developer Program.
The program is designed for app developers—individuals and companies. If you’re in it just to get the latest iOS, provide your Apple ID and some basic information about yourself, and pay the membership fee of $99 per year.
A note of caution, though: since you’ll have an early version of iOS, you’ll face bugs that are more than the minor annoyances you’re used to on stable versions of iOS. The entire point of developers having the software is to test it out with their apps, so you might find that some of your apps become unusable or that you lose information. Make sure you’re comfortable with that before signing up. Or install the dev versions on a second, non-primary iOS device.
Before a final version of iOS is released, meanwhile, there’s a public beta that carries with it a bit of risk but is still fairly stable. Some of your existing apps might not work with the OS and you could lose data, but if you’re willing to try it out there’s no fee to join.
The point of a public beta is to find bugs developers have not yet uncovered, so if you have an older iOS device you can afford to upgrade with possibly buggy software, this is an interesting side project for iOS fans.
To try it out, sign up for the Apple Beta Software Program, and you’ll be notified when you can download the latest version of iOS. If you come across any bugs, use the built-in Feedback Assistant app to report them.