If you’re the sort who throws caution to the wind and likes to try the latest and greatest in software before the rest of the unwashed masses get their grubby paws on it you’re in luck: the public betas for Apple’s latest iterations of its mobile operating system, iOS 9, and its desktop one, OS X El Capitan, are now out in the wild.
You’ll need a supported device — and preferably a spare one, especially in the case of iOS 9, which you don’t want to go running on your primary mobile phone lest something goes awry — and a decent internet connection. Thankfully, iOS 9 supports all of the devices its predecessor did, so iThings as far back as the iPhone 4S and iPad 2 should run it. Don’t expect it to be perfect, though, irrespective of how new the device is you use to run it because it is, after all, still a beta release.
Before installing iOS 9 on anything you’ll want to back that thing up. No, really, back it up. Also, you’ll want to back it up to iTunes not iCloud so that you can roll back to iOS 8 if you need to. It’s recommended you find the backup file in iTunes (Preferences > Devices), right click it and “archive” it to make sure the return to iOS 8 is possible.
To get access to El Capitan you’ll need to visit Apple’s beta site (the same place you can sign up for early access to iOS 9), register and agree to the Ts & Cs. As with iOS 9, it’s recommended you don’t go fooling about with beta software on the laptop or desktop you depend on every day, but hey, if you like living on the edge we’re not going to stop you. And as with iOS 9, if you are going to try it out, for the love of tech back up anything essential first.
In both cases the public betas include a dedicated problem-reporting tool so that you can let Apple know about any problems you encounter. Which is, at the end of the day, the point of putting them out there in the first place. Those of you who do opt to try the public betas of either iOS 9 or El Capitan or iOS 9 will get the option to install the final versions of each when they land in spring.