Apple releases iOS 9 public beta

Ready to rock the next big OS? Now's the time to sign up

We just posted a story about the impending release of the OS X El Capitan public beta test, and not two minutes passed before Apple's beta site popped back up - bringing not only the new Mac OS preview, but also iOS 9.

That's right: now you can preview the next big iPhone and iPad operating system months before its proper, full release. You'll need to register for the test with Apple, as well as have a device fit enough to run the OS. Luckily, anything that's running iOS 8 is compatible, since Apple isn't dropping any device support this time around.

As ever, it's strongly recommended that you do not install iOS 9 on your primary device - especially your everyday iPhone, since any mishaps could leave you without a working phone. iOS 9, like OS X El Capitan, is still in development, and will be filled with odd bugs and glitches. Of course, being part of the beta means holding up your end of the bargain and reporting any issues you encounter. (And seriously, back up your phone or tablet before installing.)

iOS 9 is a feature-packed upgrade over the current software, making Siri and Spotlight search significantly smarter, as well as adding split-screen support on newer iPads, transit directions for Maps, and making other tweaks to Apple Pay, the keyboard, and other core functions. It even promises to add an hour of daily battery life to existing devices, plus a separate low power mode can keep you humming along when things get dire.

For the vast majority of users, the year's third quarter will be the time to download iOS 9: it will have been widely tested for months and (hopefully) rid of most major bugs. But if you're eager to get a jump on everyone else and don't mind troubleshooting potentially odd issues, now's the time to sign up.

[Source: Apple Beta Software Program]