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iOS 12: How to get your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch ready for the biggest update yet

Here's what you need to do to ensure that your upgrade to iOS 12 goes as smoothly as possible and you don't lose any data.

If you're the sort who will want to pull the trigger on upgrading to iOS 12 the moment it's released, there are some steps that you should take so you don't end up in a world of hurt.

When will iOS 12 be released?

iOS 12 will be released September 17.

As for the time, Apple releases major software updates at around 10 AM PT (1 PM ET, 5 PM GMT, 6 BST).

What else will Apple release?

Along with iOS 12, Apple will release watchOS 5 and tvOS 12.

How will I get iOS 12?

The recommended way is to tap Settings > General > Software Update and carry out the update from there.

You will need Wi-Fi access and your battery to be charged above 50 percent or the device will need to be connected to a charger (I recommend that devices are connected to a charger during the update process no matter what the battery charge level).

Also: How to download iOS 12 on your iPhone right now CNET

Alternatively, you can connect the iPhone or iPad to a PC running iTunes and do the upgrade from there.

What devices can run iOS 12?

If you're running iOS 11, then you can get iOS 12. If you're still running iOS 10, read on.

iOS 11 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 generation
  • iPhone 5s
  • iPhone SE
  • iPhone 6/6 Plus
  • iPhone 6s/6s Plus
  • iPhone 7/7 Plus
  • iPhone 8/8 Plus
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone XS/XS Max (will ship with iOS 12)
  • iPhone XR (will ship with iOS 12)

This means not all devices that run iOS 10 can run the iOS 12. Specifically, the following are not supported:

  • iPhone 5
  • iPhone 5c
  • iPad 4

So, the oldest Apple devices that can support iOS 12 will be the iPhone 5s and iPad Air.

Remember that things can go wrong!

Before you go hog-wild, throw caution to the wind, and start upgrading, be aware that there are risks. Things can go wrong, stuff may be broken, and you may lose data. Plenty of iOS launches have been marred by bugs and problems, so 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.

Keep in mind that unless you're willing to jump through hoops and do things that Apple frowns upon, going to iOS 12 is a one-way trip, so you might want to let other people go ahead of you just in case there are gotchas.

You ignore backups at your peril!

Spring clean your iOS device

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 12 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!

Is it better to upgrade or wipe a device clean and start from scratch?

It's a lot less hassle just to upgrade a device, because you get to keep all your apps and settings.

However, devices that I have wiped and reloaded a new iOS onto, and then installed and re-setup all my apps and such, feel faster and seem to suffer from fewer problems (such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi issues).

Also: Apple iOS 12: Cheat sheet TechRepublic

However, wiping and reloading the apps and data is pretty big hassle, and it's probably more work than most want to undertake.

Swings and roundabouts!

Should I hold back on upgrading?

There will likely be several updates to iOS 12 coming down the pike over the weeks following its release, so you might want to wait for the dust to settle and for any last-minute bugs to be squashed before making the leap, especially if you rely on your device for work.

If you don't like dealing with bugs, holding back for a few days might be the wise thing to do. If you like to live on the edge, smash that update button as soon as Apple makes iOS 12 available (but don't say I didn't warn you).

Also: Apple products you should not buy (September 2018 edition)

Also, if you use your device in a BYOD setting, make sure you get the OK from the IT department before upgrading in case you're unable to access the network or data you need.

What happens if I don't upgrade?

Not much. After a week or so you should see a red badge appear on the Settings app. That's about it.

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