At WWDC this month, Apple previewed iPadOS 14, the next-generation software that will run on all iPad comes this fall. iPadOS 14 is going to go a long way from changing the perspective that the iPad is just a “giant iPhone”. This year’s iPadOS will include such features as home screen widgets, new call notifications, scribble–the ability to use the Apple Pencil to write in all text fields, new privacy enhancements, better maps, tons of improvements to messages, and more!
The bad news about iPadOS 14 that it doesn’t ship for everyone until the fall. However, there are a few ways you can get access to iPadOS 14 early. But do keep in mind that if you want to run iPadOS 14 on your existing iPad now, that iPad will need to be a fairly recent one as iPadOS 14 is dropping support for some older iPad models.
Specifically, you’ll need an iPad Pro, an iPad (5th generation) or higher, an iPad mini 4 or higher, or an iPad Air 2 or higher. If you’ve got one of those, here’s how you can install iPadOS 14 today.
Become A Registered Developer
All registered developers got access to the first beta of iPadOS 14 the day it was announced. And you can too—provided, again, that you are a registered developer. Being a registered developer means you can create iPadOS apps and distribute them on the App Store. It also means you get access to pre-release betas before everyone else so you can test your apps on new versions of the operating system.
To become a registered developer you need to enroll in the Apple Developer Program. To register you’ll need an Apple ID and also pay a $99 fee that renews annually. Once you are registered you’ll be able to download the latest betas of iPadOS 14 and install them on your iPads.
Become An Official Public Beta Tester
In years past Apple got wise to the fact that many illicit developers were selling beta slots of the new iOS to users who couldn’t wait to test it out. So a few years ago Apple decided to throw a spanner in those works by releasing a public beta of iOS 9. And they’ve continued that public beta since for iOS–and are continuing the public beta program for iPadOS 14 now, too.
How is the public beta of iPadOS 14 different than the developer beta? It’s mostly the same, but it’s probably more stable. That’s because developers get access to the latest beta a few weeks ahead of time and they can pinpoint the major bugs (like battery drain or crashes) that a developer will tolerate, but a public beta tester might not. Apple then takes these bug reports and improves the stability of the developer beta and releases it as a public beta.
In order to get access to the public iPadOS 14 betas, you’ll need to register as an Apple Beta Tester. Registration is free. Once you’re given access, you’ll be able to download all the public betas of iPadOS 14. The first iPadOS 14 public beta will launch in July.
A Word of Warning: Beta Is Beta
Though Apple is making the iPadOS 14 beta available in a number of ways this year, keep in mind that iPadOS 14 will not be a stable release until it ships to the public in the fall. Running betas could severely affect your devices and your files—in other words, the software is a “beta” for a reason.
Betas are naturally full of bugs. That’s WHY they’re betas. The point of beta testing is to find the bugs and squash them. And betas can have some nasty bugs that can potentially cripple your iPad. And Apple’s warranties generally do not cover beta software–even if you’re a legitimate developer.
That means if a beta bricks your iPad, you could be out of luck. Time to buy a new one. So proceed down this road with extreme caution and only travel it if you are completely fine with something going disastrously wrong with your iPad.
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Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.