So you watched Apple's Craig Federighi outline all the features coming to iOS 11 at WWDC, and now you want them on your iPhone immediately.
It's easy to see why. With iOS 11, you can kick your Venmo habit and iMessage your friends money with Apple Pay, have Siri translate for you as you sightsee in Rome, and multitask so much on your iPad Pro that you'll never pick up your laptop again.
To get Apple's latest mobile OS, you have three options: become an Apple developer and try the beta; wait for the public beta in July; or wait for the final, stable version that arrives in the fall. Read on to find the best fit for you.
Become an Apple Developer
To get iOS 11 right now, you'll need to join the Apple Developer Program.
The program is designed for app developers, whether they're individuals or companies. If you're in it just to get iOS 11, provide your Apple ID and some basic information about yourself, and pay the membership fee of $99 per year.
A note of caution, though: since you'll have an early version of iOS 11, you'll face bugs that are more than the minor annoyances you're used to on stable versions of iOS. The entire point of developers having the software is to test it out with their apps, so you might find that some of your apps become unusable or that you lose information. Make sure you're comfortable with that before signing up.
If you have reservations but are still undaunted, you might want to wait until the public beta arrives next month. There are still risks with a public beta, including the possibility that some of your existing apps might not work with the OS yet or that you could lose data, but there's no fee to join.
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The point of a public beta is to find bugs developers have not yet uncovered, so if you have an older iOS device you can afford to upgrade with possibly buggy software, this is an interesting side project for iOS fans.
To try it out, sign up for the Apple Beta Software Program, and you'll be notified when you can download iOS 11. If you come across any bugs, use the Feedback Assistant app to report them.
As a member of the beta program, you'll also be able to test out the public beta of macOS High Sierra if you have a Mac.
If you're risk-averse, wait until the fall to download the final version of iOS 11.
Apple has not yet announced a launch date for iOS 11, but when it arrives, you'll either get a pop-up alert on your iOS device or can navigate to Settings > General > Software Update to force a manual update.
If you have an older iPhone, though, you might want to consider a hardware upgrade, too: iOS 11 is not compatible with the 2012 iPhone 5, the 4th-generation iPad, or the 2013 iPhone 5c. The shift to 64-bit apps means those devices will have to remain on iOS 10.
It also means that 32-bit apps won't work with iOS devices running iOS 11, hence the importance of the beta period for developers. If you want to see if any of your beloved apps are in danger, go to Settings > General > About > App Compatibility, which will list apps that "may slow down your phone and will not work with future version of iOS if they are not updated." (If all your apps are safe, you won't see an "App Comptability" option in the About section).
The good news is that iOS launches usually coincide with new iPhone releases, so you can snag yourself a brand-new smartphone or a reduced-price iPhone 7 and try out all that iOS 11 has to offer.
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