How to safely test iOS 11 public betas on your iPhone or iPad

Here's what you need to do to make sure things go smoothly for you and you don't lose any data.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Contributing Writer

If you're thinking about grabbing the public beta of iOS 11 that's scheduled to land this week, there are some things that you need to be aware of so you don't end up in a world of hurt.

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How to get iOS 11 beta

First off, if you want access to the public beta, you need to sign up.

You can do that here.

What devices can run iOS 11 beta?

iOS 11 beta is supported on the following devices:

  • iPad Air
  • iPad Air 2
  • iPad Pro
  • iPad mini 2
  • iPad mini 3
  • iPad mini 4
  • iPod touch 6th
  • iPhone 5s
  • iPhone SE
  • iPhone 6/6 Plus
  • iPhone 6s/6s Plus
  • iPhone 7/7 Plus

This means that not all devices that run iOS 10 can run the iOS 11 beta. Specifically, the following are not supported:

  • iPhone 5
  • iPhone 5c
  • iPad 4

This means that the oldest Apple devices to support iOS 11 will be the iPhone 5s and iPad Air.

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Remember: Things can -- and probably will -- go wrong!

Before you go hog-wild and start installing beta code, be aware that there are risks. Things can go wrong, stuff may be broken, and you may lose data. With that in mind, it's a good idea to have an up-to-date backup, because making a fuss isn't going to bring back your lost photos or documents.

You can either create a local backup using iTunes, or backup to iCloud by going to Settings > iCloud > Backup, and then turning on iCloud Backup.

If you think that there is a chance that you will need to roll back from iOS 11 beta to iOS 10, then it is vital that you make a backup, otherwise you will only be able to wipe the device and set it up as a new iPhone or iPad.

Spring clean your iPhone or iPad

Chances are that your iPhone or iPad has accumulated a lot of detritus over the months and years, so what better time to get rid of it than now. While iOS 11 doesn't need as much free space to install as some of the earlier releases of iOS, getting rid of apps that you no longer use -- or perhaps have never used -- makes good sense.

Know your passwords

Following the upgrade, you'll need to enter your iCloud password in order to be able to reconnect to all your data and photos. If you don't have this close to hand -- remember, having it on the device you're upgrading isn't all that convenient -- then this might be a good time to do that.

Also, if your iTunes backup is encrypted, then remember you'll need that password if something goes wrong!

Get ready for the "Appocalypse"

The end is nigh for all 32-bit iOS apps, so if you're still relying on older apps, it's time to find alternatives.

For some time now, Apple has been warning iPhone and iPad users that legacy 32-bit apps may slow down their devices, but with the recent release of iOS 10.3, Apple has escalated things by making it clear that the end is nigh.

You can check installed apps for compatibility using the built-in checker tool (you need to be running iOS 10.3 or later for this to work).

You can find that by clicking: Settings > General > About > Applications.

From there, you'll get a list of all the 32-bit apps on your iPhone or iPad that won't run on iOS 11. If you're lucky, you won't have any apps listed, or the apps that are listed will be old stuff that you forgot you had installed and no longer use.

However, if an app that you are relying on is listed, then you need to get ready for its demise.

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What if the iOS 11 beta isn't for you?

If you decide that the iOS 11 beta isn't for you and want to roll back to iOS 10, then be aware that the process involves having access to a computer running iTunes.

To roll back, do the following:

  • Put your iPhone or iPad into Recovery Mode by switching it off and then pressing and holding the Home button to turn it on (this can take a long time, so be patient and keep holding down the Home button).
  • When you see the message telling you to Connect to iTunes, plug the iPhone or iPad into the PC or Mac running iTunes using the Lightning cable and fire up iTunes.
  • iTunes will inform you that it's detected a device in Recovery Mode and offer to restore it. Choose the Restore and Update option to download the latest version of iOS 10 and install it on your Apple device.
  • After the device has been restored you will be given the option of recovering your data from a backup.

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