iOS 14 public beta: How to download it on your iPhone

Apple has just released the latest version of iOS 14, a yet-to-be-finalized update to the software that powers the company’s great gadgets. The second public beta came out on July 23, and corresponds to the third developer beta, also just released.

Indeed, the well-orchestrated keynote presentation of Apple’s WWDC 2020 conference may have come and gone in June, but everyone is still buzzing about one thing: 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? But 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, the public beta is finally here. 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.

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 handy, then you’re good to start downloading the iOS 14 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 public beta

It used to be that signing up for an Apple beta, whether developer or public, involved attaching your iPhone to another device and manually downloading and installing the update. In short, it was a long-winded pain. Thankfully, Apple has updated its processes to fit with the fast-paced times, and now, getting a new iOS public beta is a much simpler affair.

Get started by accessing the Apple beta page on your chosen iOS device. You’ll need to sign in, either by confirming your biometrics or by inputting your email address and password. Then, tap the Download profile button to download the latest profile of the iOS 14 beta. We recommend you do this in the default Safari browser, as downloading the profile in Chrome wasn’t the smoothest experience.

Once that’s downloaded, head to Settings > Profile Downloaded, and then tap Install and confirm your passcode. Then, tap Install twice to confirm the profile. Finally, head back to Settings General > Software Update, and wait for the beta to download and install. This is a much larger file than the profile, so it will take a lot longer to download and install.

Once the update has been downloaded and prepared, you’ll need to confirm you want to update, and once your phone has restarted once more, you’ll be using iOS 14.

Update: This post was updated by Jeremy Kaplan with information on the second public beta.

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