Every fall without fail, Apple releases a major new version of their operating systems for the iPhone and iPad. And as always, if you’re curious about the new features in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, there’s a way to skip the line and try them out right now using the public betas.
By joining Apple’s own public beta program, you can try out all the features of the new operating system, but there’s a caveat: As these updates to the OS are still a beta, it may not be completely stable. You might encounter bugs or hiccups here and there (though usually public betas are more stable than developer betas), so you may not want to install it on a device you rely on every day.
If you’re ok with that, well, there’s nothing stopping you. Once you’ve enrolled in Apple’s public beta program, you’ll receive a free over-the-air update to the new operating system. Before we begin, make sure you have backed up your data (whether using iCloud, or by making a local backup to your computer).
How to download and install the iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 public betas
Upgrading your device’s OS to the public beta isn’t that much different than installing a regular update — once you’ve enrolled in the program. Here’s how to get started.
- On your iPhone or iPad, open Safari, and navigate to Apple’s beta program website.
- Scroll down, tap the “Sign in” button, and log in with your Apple ID.
- On the “Guide for Public Betas” page, choose “iOS” or “iPadOS” from the top, depending on your device.
- From the “Get Started” section, tap “Enroll your iOS device” if you’re using an iPhone, or “Enroll your iPadOS device” if you’re using an iPad.
- Scroll down to the “Install Profile” section and tap “Download Profile.”
- Tap “Allow” to download the configuration profile; once the download has completed, tap the “Close” button.
- Open your device’s Settings app and tap the “Profile Downloaded” section, which you’ll see right at the top.
- Tap “Install” to start the process. You’ll be prompted to enter your passcode. Tap the “Install” button twice to begin the install.
- When it has finished, restart your iPhone or iPad using the “Restart Now” button.
Once your iPhone or iPad reboots, open the Settings app and head to General > Software Update to find the public beta update. Tap the “Download and Install” and you’re off to the races!
If you run into any problems running the beta version and want to downgrade, you can always reset your iPhone or iPad to the stable version by restoring it from your backup — but make sure to save any recent data you don’t want to lose first.
How to leave the iOS 15 public beta
Now that you have installed the public beta profile, you will continue to receive beta updates going forward. Once iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 officially launches, you will also get the stable version of the OS — which is a good time to jump off the public beta bandwagon.
To do that, open the Settings app and go to General > VPN & Device Management > iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 Beta Profile. Tap the “Remove Profile” button, enter your passcode, and tap “Remove” to get rid of the beta profile.
After you reboot your device, you’ll be back to the stable update channel.
What to expect from iOS 15 and iPadOS 15
iOS 15 brings major improvements to the communication and personal wellbeing features of the iPhone. FaceTime gets a huge overhaul (no doubt courtesy of the increased need for group video messaging brought on by the pandemic) with support for grid view, Portrait mode, and FaceTime on the web. SharePlay finally allows you to consume media alongside your friends while using FaceTime.
On the personal front, there’s the Focus feature, which is like Do Not Disturb mode on steroids. You can finally create customised DND modes for different activities, giving you granular control over how an app or person can get in touch with you.
There are many more new features you can check out in our iOS 15 roundup, but our favourite by far is Live Text: Your iPhone or iPad can now recognise the text in any image and convert it into selectable text. Damn cool.
iPadOS 15, on the other hand, finally gets widgets on the home screen (including an extra-large widget size). And there’s yet another iteration of the iPad multitasking system — this time, Apple has added a button to the top of the screen that lets you easily dock apps in Split View and Slide Over.
Which iPhones and iPads are supported?
Apple’s device support for iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 is extensive — ever the 2015 iPhone 6s is still supported. Here’s a list of all compatible devices:
- iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max
- iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max
- iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max
- iPhone X, iPhone XR
- iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus
- iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus
- iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus
- iPhone SE (first and second generation)
- iPod Touch (seventh generation)
- iPad Pro 12.9-inch (first to seventh generation)
- iPad Pro 11-inch (first to third generation)
- iPad Pro 10.5-inch
- iPad Pro 9.7-inch
- iPad (fifth to eighth generation)
- iPad Mini (fourth and fifth generation)
- iPad Air (second to fourth generation)