- You can get the iOS 16 beta on your iPhone by signing up for Apple’s Beta Software Program.
- iOS 16’s new features include a reinvented Lock Screen design, the ability to edit or unsend text messages, and more.
- iOS 16 will be officially released this fall, likely in September.
iOS, the operating system that powers your iPhone, receives tiny updates once or twice a month. But every fall, Apple gives iOS a major update that introduces new features and changes how your phone looks and works.
The next major update is iOS 16. And although it won’t be officially released for a few months, you can download the iOS 16 beta right now to test out all the new features early.
How to download the iOS 16 beta
To get the iOS 16 beta, you have to sign up for the Apple Beta Software Program. This is a free service that’s available to anyone who has an Apple ID account, and lets you test out software before it goes live to the general public.
While you’re using the iOS 16 beta, Apple asks that you not share screenshots or videos of it on social media. iOS 16 is still being developed, so you should expect to occasionally run into glitches or apps that crash. Installing the beta will also download an app called Feedback onto your iPhone — you can use this app to flag bugs, ask for new features, or just give Apple your thoughts on iOS 16.
Quick tip: This program also offers beta versions of iPadOS 16 and macOS Ventura, both of which are officially releasing this fall too.
To sign up for the iOS 16 beta:
1. Open the Apple Beta Software Program homepage using the iPhone you want to install it on. Tap the blue Sign up button.
2. You’ll need to sign into your Apple ID account, and then accept Apple’s terms and conditions. Apple also recommends that you back up your iPhone’s data before you install any beta software, since betas can be buggy.
3. Once you’re signed up and your data is safe, head to the Beta Profile website, still using your iPhone. Scroll down to step two, Install profile, and tap the blue Download profile button.
4. When you’re asked if you want to download the profile, tap Allow. Your iPhone will take a few moments to download the profile, depending on your internet speed.
Allow the profile to download.
Apple; William Antonelli/Insider
5. Once you get the notification saying that it’s done, open the Settings app and tap Profile Downloaded near the top. A page will appear explaining that you’re about to use beta software.
6. Tap Install in the top-right, enter your passcode, and tap Install again.
You can also remove the profile here if you decide you don’t want the beta.
Apple; William Antonelli/Insider
7. Once it’s installed, restart your iPhone.
8. When your iPhone turns back on, open the Settings app and tap General, and then Software Update. You’ll be offered the iOS 16 Public Beta to download and install.
Download and install the beta OS.
Apple; William Antonelli/Insider
Now you just need to plug your iPhone into its charger and let the beta install. It’s a big update, so it could take a while — be patient.
Important: You’ll need at least 5GB of space free on your iPhone to install the iOS 16 beta.
If you later decide that you don’t want to use the beta anymore, you’ll need to erase your iPhone and then restore it using the backup you made earlier.
Which iPhones is iOS 16 available on?
As iOS marches on, some iPhones always get left behind in the shuffle. To download and use iOS 16 (both the beta and official versions), you’ll need to own one of these iPhones:
- iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max
- 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 XR
- iPhone X
- iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus
- iPhone SE (2nd generation and newer)
And although all of these phones can download iOS 16, not all of its features will be available on every model.
You can check what iPhone model you have by opening the Settings app.
What’s new in the iOS 16 beta
iOS 16 isn’t as revolutionary as some past iOS updates. But it still comes packed with a lot of new features, most of which are available in the beta version right now.
Here are our favorite new features that you’ll find in the iOS 16 beta.
New Lock Screen designs
iOS 16’s flagship feature is the new Lock Screen. Aside from the ability to customize the Lock Screen’s fonts and text colors, you can also add small widgets that tell you about the weather, your next meeting, and more.
Advanced photo analysis tools also give your lock screen photos a layer of depth. Your photo subjects can stand above or behind the time and widgets, making even simple selfies look like they’ve been taken with a 3D camera.
You might see the text color change to match your photos automatically.
These new options turn the Lock Screen from a plain picture frame into a new avenue for creative expression.
Unsending and editing text messages
Ever sent a text, only to regret it seconds later? In iOS 16, you can take back your typos and tirades — but only if you’re texting another person using iOS 16.
When you’re using iMessage to text another Apple device, you’ll have the options to edit your texts or take them back for up to 15 minutes after sending. The person on the other end will see a notification saying that the message was edited or deleted, but they won’t see the original message itself.
Just remember that it only works with other iOS 16 iMessage users. You won’t see the edit and unsend options when using SMS messages (like if you’re texting someone with an Android phone). And if you try to edit a message with someone who hasn’t updated to iOS 16 yet, it’ll text them the new version instead of changing the old one.
This might be a lifesaver for those of us who type first and think later.
Quick tip: The ability to unsend messages is also coming to the Mail app in iOS 16, so you can unsend your emails too.
The Fitness app
Apple Watch owners should all be familiar with the three rings that you use to track how much time you’ve spent standing, moving, and exercising. Now, iOS 16’s Fitness app is bringing the Move ring to your iPhone, and you don’t even need an Apple Watch to use it.
The Fitness app uses your iPhone’s internal sensors to track your steps, how far you’ve walked, and how many calories you’re burning. It’ll also map out your activity trends so you know when you’re most active and what you need to improve on. The Move ring will fill up as you exercise, and you’ll get a notification when it’s complete.
The Fitness app only features one of the three rings: Move.
Fitness also comes with its own widget that can be placed on your iPhone’s Home Screen or Lock Screen, so you don’t need to keep opening the app to check your progress.
More features in Apple Maps
Although it had a shaky start, Apple Maps is slowly coming into its own as a legitimate competitor to Google Maps. Some new features debuting in iOS 16 should help with that.
With iOS 16, Maps makes it easier to travel on public transit. In select cities you’ll be able to add your transit cards (MetroCard, CharlieCard, TAP, etc.) to your Apple Wallet, and use them inside of the Maps app. Maps will also show you how much any public transportation route will cost you, no matter how you’re paying for it.
And if you’re taking a long trip by car, Maps can help with that too. Multi-stop routing lets you add up to 15 stops to any car trip, and use Siri to add stops while you’re on-the-go.