Apple has officially announced iPadOS 16, the next generation of its iPad operating system. The latest iPadOS release promises some cool and exciting new features, including a new stage manager that will bring a more productive multitasking experience to Apple’s tablet, improved collaboration, and a renewed focus on gaming.
Although iPadOS 16 won’t officially arrive before September, Apple has already released an early beta for developers to play with, and it won’t be long before a public beta arrives. If you want to experience the latest iPadOS 16 features early, you can sign up for one of Apple’s beta programs.
- Back up your iPad
- Sign up for an Apple Developer Account
- Sign up for Apple’s Public Beta Program
- Install the iPadOS 16 beta configuration profile
- Install the iPadOS 16 beta
What You Need
A compatible iPad
An Apple Developer Account
Early betas of major iPadOS releases are typically released only to Apple developers so they can get a head start on getting their apps ready for all the new features. This means that the only way to get your hands on the iPadOS 16 beta right away is to join the Apple Developer Program at a cost of $99 per year.
If you’re willing to wait a few weeks, Apple usually releases a public beta sometime in late June or early July, around the same time as the second or third developer beta. Once that happens, you can sign up for Apple’s Beta Software Program for free and get a more stable version. From that point on, public betas generally arrive within a day or two of each developer beta.
Back up your iPad
Before installing an iPadOS beta, it’s always a good idea to have a current backup of your iPad. Remember, this is beta software, so it’s much more likely that things can go wrong.
Further, Apple’s warranty doesn’t cover an iPad running an iPadOS beta. Should you encounter problems with your iPad, you have to restore it to the last public iPadOS release before bringing or sending it in for repair. That will require restoring your iPad to its new state, so you’ll want to make sure you have a backup in case this happens.
You can find the instructions on how to do this in our article on How to back up an iPad.
We highly recommend making an additional backup to your Mac or PC in case you need to return to the iPadOS 15 public release. You can’t restore a backup made from a newer version of iPadOS onto an iPad running an older version, and iPadOS backs up your iPad to iCloud automatically every 24 hours. Only the three most recent iCloud Backups are retained, so it won’t take long for your iPadOS 15 backup to be pushed out of the rotation. Backing up to your computer will ensure you have a backup to fall back on in case you have to restore to iPadOS 15.
Sign up for an Apple Developer Account
To get the iPadOS 16 beta early, you’ll need to pay $99 to enroll in the Apple Developer Program. You can do this as an individual or an organization; however, the individual registration is faster and simpler as you don’t need to provide as much documentation — your legal name and address should be sufficient. Note that this won’t give you immediate access to the iPadOS 16 beta; you’ll need to wait for Apple to approve your application first, which may take a couple of days.
Step 1: Using a web browser, visit the Apple Developer Program website.
Step 2: Select Start your enrollment.
Step 3: Sign in with your Apple ID and password.
Step 4: Agree to the Apple Developer agreement by selecting the checkbox and choosing the Submit button.
Step 5: Choose Continue enrollment on the web to proceed. If you prefer, you can follow the instructions to download the Apple Developer app and complete the enrollment process directly from your iPhone or iPad instead.
Step 6: On the next screen, fill in your personal information and select Continue.
Step 7: Select Individual/sole proprietor as your entity type.
Step 8: Review the Apple Developer Program license agreement and accept it by selecting the checkbox and choosing the Continue button.
Step 9: If you would like your developer subscription to renew automatically each year, select the Checkbox in the Auto-renewal section.
Step 10: Proceed to the payment screen by choosing the Purchase button.
Step 11: Enter your payment details and complete your purchase.
Sign up for Apple’s Public Beta Program
The iPadOS 16 public beta won’t arrive for a few weeks, but you can prepare for it by signing up for the Apple Beta Software Program. For now, that will give you access to betas of the latest iPadOS 15 point releases, but you’ll be ready to come back here for the iPadOS 16 public beta once it arrives.
Step 1: In a web browser, visit the Apple Beta Software Program website.
Step 2: Choose the blue Sign up button.
Step 3: On the next screen, enter your Apple ID and select the right-facing Arrow icon.
Step 4: When the password field appears, enter the password for your Apple ID and select the right-facing Arrow icon.
Step 5: If prompted, enter the six-digit two-factor authentication code sent to your iPhone, and then choose Trust if you want to skip the verification code prompt the next time you sign in, or choose Do not trust if you’re using a shared or public browser.
Step 6: Read the Apple Beta Software Program Agreement and choose Accept to confirm your acceptance of it.
Your Apple ID is now enrolled in the Apple Beta Software Program. You won’t be able to download the iPadOS 16 public beta yet, but when it’s released, you can return here and sign in with your Apple ID to get the necessary configuration profile.
Jesse Hollington / Digital Trends
Install the iPadOS 16 beta configuration profile
Once your Apple Developer Account has been approved or the public beta has been released, you can set up your iPad to install the iPadOS 16 beta over the air by downloading the appropriate configuration profile. This tells your iPad that it’s authorized to get the beta and where to download it.
The steps to get the profile vary slightly depending on whether you’re a developer or a public beta tester, but once you’ve installed the profile, the beta is installed the same either way.
If you’ve participated in a beta program for iPadOS 15 or earlier, you’ll still need to download a new configuration profile for iPadOS 16. Each major iPadOS version uses a unique configuration profile, so if you only see an iPadOS 15.6 or iPadOS 15.7 beta appear, it’s because you’re still using an iPadOS 15 beta profile. Adding the iPadOS 16 profile should overwrite the older iPadOS 15 version.
Step 1: Using Safari on your iPad, go to the appropriate website:
- If you’re a member of the Apple Developer Program, visit the Apple Developer Program website and sign in with your Apple ID.
- If you’re a public beta tester, you’ll visit the website for the Apple Beta Software Program (once it’s available) and sign in with your Apple ID there.
Step 2: Download and install the configuration profile:
- If you’re an Apple Developer, select the Install profile button in the iPadOS 16 beta section.
- If you’re a Public Beta tester, ensure the iPadOS tab is selected from the horizontal menu bar and then scroll down and choose Enroll your iPadOS device from the Get started section, and then choose Download profile from the next page.
Jesse Hollington / Digital Trends
Step 3: Choose Allow to confirm that you want to download the configuration profile, and then select Close to confirm the profile has been downloaded.
Step 4: Open your iPad Settings app.
Step 5: Choose Profile downloaded near the top left corner of the screen.
Step 6: From the window that appears, select Install in the top-right corner to install the profile.
Step 7: When prompted, enter your iPad passcode.
Step 8: Choose Install in the top-right corner to confirm the Apple beta agreement.
Jesse Hollington / Digital Trends
Step 9: Select Install from the pop-up dialog that appears.
Step 10: When prompted, choose Restart to reboot your iPad.
Your iPad is now ready to download the latest iPadOS 16 beta. However, before you do that, you should make a backup in case anything goes wrong.
Install the iPadOS 16 beta
Once you’ve installed the iPadOS 16 configuration profile from either the Apple Developer Program or Apple Beta Software Program (when it becomes available) and backed up your iPad, you’re ready to jump in and install the iPadOS 16 Beta.
Updating to the iPadOS 16 beta is done the same way as any other iPadOS software update. The configuration profile you installed earlier tells your iPad to get the beta software instead of looking for a public iPadOS release.
Step 1: Open your iPad Settings app.
Step 2: Select General.
Step 3: Choose Software update. After a few seconds, the iPadOS 16 Beta should appear.
Step 4: Select Download and install to begin the process.
It may take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or more to download the iPadOS 16 beta, prepare it, and then install it on your iPad. After that process completes, your iPad will restart and take you through a series of welcome and setup screens, similar to those you’ll see when first updating to a public release.
Thanks to the beta configuration profile, you’ll also stay on track to get all future iPadOS 16 beta updates as they become available. Simply repeat the steps above to check for the latest beta software and install it when it becomes available.