(Pocket-lint) - Apple's iOS 8 won't officially release until later this year, but you can install it on your iPhone and iPad right now.
Anyone with an iOS device can in fact download, install, and run iOS 8 today. It won't be the full consumer release expected to debut sometime around autumn but rather a beta version for software developers. A beta is just a trial of products, in the final stages of development. Apple uses developer feedback from betas to put the finishing touches on operating systems and apps.
If you want to run iOS 8 or become a beta-tester for Apple, you can do so using the steps outlined below. Pocket-lint has explained how to get iOS 8 on your device and everything else you may want to know. It's a relatively straightforward process, though you shouldn't attempt to try it if you only have one Apple device or are worried about crashes and other risky things (which we discussed in detail, below).
Are you still interested? Continue reading.
Join the iOS developer program.
You must register yourself as an iOS developer to get access to Apple's beta software and operating systems. You can enroll through the company's Developer Center website using your Apple ID. The annual fee is $99.
Find a fully-charged "test" device to run the iOS 8 beta.
You can use an iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C, iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPad Air, iPad Mini (both generations), fourth-generation iPad, third-generation iPad, iPad 2, and fifth-generation iPod Touch. Your device must be fully charged in order to successfully complete the beta download and installation.
Note: Make sure you have a device solely for use with the iOS 8 beta. Most beta-testing programmes allow developers and users to fully experience new software as well as find errors and submit feedback to publishers. Beta versions of operating systems will therefore have many bugs. You should never run a beta operating system on your main or personal device, because you run the risk of locking yourself out or crashing the device.
Download the latest version of iTunes on your computer and back up your device.
You need to update iTunes to download the iOS 8 beta, but you should also use iTunes and iCloud to back up your device. The beta might cause your device to crash, and you'll want to do a quick recovery with the backup stored in iTunes. According to Apple's documentation, you must also back up your test device using the new iCloud beta environment for both iOS 8 beta and Mac OS X Yosemite.
Download and install
Register your device with its Unique Device Identifier (UDID).
Your device's UDID is a string of 40 characters. It acts like a serial number for your test device. Using the UDID, you must register and authenticate your device through the iOS Development Center website. If you refuse, you can't complete the iOS 8 beta installation.
To find your device's UDID, simply plug the device into iTunes. You need to click on the device icon in the top right-hand corner, then view the Summary tab, and select Serial Number. Once finished, enter the UDID into the correct field on the iOS Developer Center website. Apple will then prompt you to download the right version of the iOS 8 beta for your device, but you'll first need to select your device model from the list provided.
Download the iOS 8 beta.
Go to the iOS Developer Center website on your desktop and download the correct version of the iOS 8 beta for you device. If you followed the step above, you will have already been prompted to download the beta.
Find the .IPSW file.
Once you launch the beta, a compressed .DMG package will download. After it downloads, unzip it. You'll then have a file with the .IPSW extension.
Connect your device to your computer and open iTunes.
Upon opening iTunes, you need to hold Shift (Alt on a Mac) and click the Restore iPhone button (found on the device's Summary tab, next to Check for Update).
Browse to and select the .IPSW file you downloaded.
Press the option button or right-click to update (not restore) your device's operating system in iTunes. A window will then open. Use this window to find the iOS 8 beta .ipsw file. Once you select it, the iOS 8 installation process will begin. Expect everything to finish in about 10 minutes.
And that's it.
Is it too soon?
If you followed the steps above, you should now be running iOS 8. Or the beta, really.
Don't be surprised if your device seems to lag or act slow. The battery life might also drain faster than normal. These types of behaviours are customary with beta operating systems (hence why you shouldn't use your main device as a test device). Have fun playing around, and make sure to report issues back to Apple every now and then. Your reports will help the company improve iOS 8 for a public release this autumn.
Keep in mind Apple only announced iOS 8 as the eighth major release of iOS in June. Although the initial beta software is available for developers to download and test right now, the company plans to release several more betas over the summer. Each new release will contain fixes, improvements, and changes - which developers testing iOS 8 probably recommended. If you want to run a more stable version of iOS 8, simply wait a few more months before trying the beta.
When running any beta operating system, you must proceed at your own risk.