How to download the iOS 14 beta on your iPhone

The keynote presentation of Apple’s WWDC 2020 conference has come and gone, and now it seems everyone is talking about only one thing — the reveal of Apple’s next generation of mobile operating system, iOS 14.

Software usually takes a backseat to hardware where smartphone coverage is concerned — after all, what’s more exciting than a shiny new iPhone or a powerful new processor? However, we make exceptions where the big beasts are concerned, and they don’t get much bigger than Apple‘s iOS. The next generation of iPhone and iPod Touch software will contain some radical new additions to the iPhone formula, including homescreen widgets, cycling directions, and even a nifty little feature that lets you tap on the back of your iPhone to trigger actions.

Make no mistake, iOS 14 is one of the biggest new software releases of 2020. But talk is cheap — how can you actually get your hands on it? While a release may not yet be on the horizon, we can expect betas to start looming into view soon. Here’s how you can download iOS 14 on your iPhone.

Please note: Beta releases, whether for developers or the public, are likely to contain bugs. As such, we do not recommend installing any beta on an important device. Bugs and breaks are common during betas, and it’s possible you’ll end up losing precious data. As such, we recommend using a spare or backup device for any beta.

Hold up: It’s developers-only for now

Unfortunately, there’s a fly in this ointment. At the moment, access to iOS 14 is limited to developers only. That means you need an Apple Developer account to access it, and that costs you a hefty $99 a year. Unless you’ve got a serious amount of cash burning a hole in your pocket, that’s quite a lot to drop on slightly earlier access than everyone else. But, you heard me right: “Slightly earlier access.” A public beta for iOS 14 will be coming next month, and we’ll let you know as soon as it’s available.

In the meantime, head over to our guide on how to enroll in the iOS beta program, and follow the instructions there to register your interest in iOS’s upcoming beta releases. However, be warned that even the public beta will be buggy, so you shouldn’t install it on any devices you’re afraid to lose data.

But if you do have a developer account, you can download the iOS 14 beta right now. Find out how you can do so below.

Compatible devices

iPhone 11 Pro Back In hand
Corey Gaskin / Digital Trends

Only a certain number of iOS devices are capable of accessing iOS 14. Thankfully, Apple has continued its long tradition of supporting devices way past their usual use-by date, and this year, iOS 14 is available on an unprecedented number of iPhones. Make sure you have one of the following iPhones to hand before you start the process of downloading and installing iOS 14.

Back up before you get started

Backup iPhone

If you’ve got the right iPhone and your $99 subscription handy, then you’re good to start downloading the iOS 14 developer beta. But first, make sure you’ve backed up your data, just in case the worst does happen.

Backing up using iCloud

Apple’s own iCloud is definitely the easiest way to back up your iPhone. Here’s how to do it:

  • Connect to a Wi-Fi network.
  • Head to your Settings app, then select your name, then tap iCloud. If you’re on iOS 10.2 or earlier, then you’ll have to scroll down and tap iCloud.
  • Scroll down and tap iCloud Backup > Back Up Now. If you’re on iOS 10.2 or earlier, just tap Backup.

You can check whether the backup is complete by heading back to Settings, hitting iCloud > iCloud Storage > Manage Storage, and tapping on your device on the list.

Backing up on a Mac running MacOS Catalina

While MacOS 10.15 Catalina may have put the kibosh on Apple’s iconic iTunes, you can still back up your iOS device on the new MacOS. Here’s how:

  • Connect your iPhone or iPod Touch to your Mac and make sure it’s up to date.
  • Follow onscreen instructions to enter your device passcode or Trust This Computer.
  • Open your Finder app and select your iPhone from the sidebar.
  • Hit the General tab, then hit Back Up Now to manually back up.

Backing up on a Mac or PC with iTunes

If you’re blessed with an older Mac or Windows PC, then you can still use iTunes to back up your iPhone or iPod Touch. Here’s how to do so:

  • Make sure your iTunes is up-to-date and connect your device.
  • Follow any onscreen instructions if you need to enter your device passcode or Trust This Computer.
  • Select your iPhone or iPod Touch in iTunes.
  • Hit Back Up Now to save your data.

Downloading and installing the iOS 14 developer beta

iOS 14 Main Home

Developer betas for past iOS releases were tiresome affairs, and you needed to manually download several tools and the entire beta to a computer before installing it to your iPhone. Thankfully, Apple has changed its approach to developer betas, and now you can install the developer beta by visiting the Apple Developer area on your selected beta device and downloading the beta profile there. Once downloaded, open Settings > General > Profile, and activate the beta.

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