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iOS 8 Is Available to Download Today. Here’s How.



Today Apple releases iOS 8, the latest mobile operating system for your iPhone, iPad, and iPod. The update includes a long list of new features, including interactive notifications that allow you to reply to messages from your home screen, a new intuitive typing technology, self-destructing text and audio messages, and the soon-to-be-available “Continuity,” which allows you to seamlessly switch from activities on your mobile device to your computer.

Additionally, the update will allow you to remove yourself from annoying group text messages, create family accounts to share and regulate iTunes purchases within your family, and monitor your physical activities via the new Health app.

Here’s how to download it:

1. Check to see if it’s compatible with your device.
Apple announced which of its gadgets can handle the update at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Check this list to see if your device made the cut: iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, fifth-generation iPod Touch, iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad 4, iPad Air, and iPad mini.

The tech site Ars Technica has warned that iOS 8 may cause slow performance if you own an iPhone 4s. So, if you own that phone, you might want to stick with the iOS version you have.

Screenshot showing devices compatible with iOS 8
Screenshot showing devices compatible with iOS 8

All the devices that’ll work with iOS 8. (Apple)

The iPhone 6 will ship with iOS 8 installed. So if you’ve already preordered a sparkly new sidekick, you won’t have to worry about this.

2. Back up your gadget.
Your personal stuff/settings will be cleared when updating to a new iOS, so it’s best you save your most recent settings, apps, photos, and emails to iCloud or your hard drive.

If your iCloud account is enabled, just connect to WiFi and plug your device into your computer. iTunes will open, and the name of your device will appear in the upper-right corner like so:


Click it, and you’ll be brought to a page that allows you to back up your iPhone/iPad/iPod either on iCloud or your hard drive.

Backups screenshot
Backups screenshot

Alternatively, you can back up your device without connecting it to your computer, as long as you have an iCloud account. Just connect to WiFi and tap your Settings app.

Scroll down to iCloud and then tap Storage & Backup.

iPhone screenshot showing Storage & Backup button
iPhone screenshot showing Storage & Backup button

Make sure the iCloud Backup button is toggled on.

iPhone screenshot showing iCloud Backup setting
iPhone screenshot showing iCloud Backup setting

Then tap Back Up Now.

iPhone screenshot showing Back Up Now button
iPhone screenshot showing Back Up Now button

Depending on how much crap you’ve accumulated on your phone, this may take a few minutes.

3. Download the update!
There are two different ways to do this. The first is straight from your i-device.

You’ll need a nice, strong WiFi connection and a place to charge your device. Apple usually doesn’t allow you to update without those two things.

Go to your Settings app. Then go to General → Software Update.

This option may take longer, but if you’re away from your computer and need to get iOS 8 as soon as it’s out, it’s the way to go.

The second (faster and better) option is to download the update via iTunes. You’ll need your computer and a charging cable.

(Also, note that the update is a whopping 6GB or so. You might need to delete several photos, videos, songs, and apps to make space.)

Plug your device into your computer and wait for iTunes to open. On the upper right of iTunes’ toolbar, you’ll see the device’s name appear, just like when you backed it up. Click it.

iTunes screenshot
iTunes screenshot

You’ll see a page with all the basic information of your device. (I’ve already downloaded iOS 8 to check it out early, but your device will have a version of iOS 7 or — if you’ve been dragging your feet — something older).

Click Check for Update.

Screenshot showing Check for Update button
Screenshot showing Check for Update button

A box will pop up to tell you that iOS 8 is available to update. Select Download and Update. From there, it’ll guide you through the process. Finally, one last box will pop up after the download, asking if you’d like to load the new update on your phone.

When it’s time to update your phone, you’ll be asked whether you’d like to back it up via iCloud or start the phone anew. Choose the former if you want all your settings, photos, and apps to transfer in the update.

4. Don’t interrupt it.
Updates to your operating system are pretty big and therefore take a much longer time to download than an app. When I downloaded the beta version of iOS 8, it took around 10 minutes to download and update in full, and that was with a fast Internet connection. So schedule a time to do it when you won’t need access to your phone for a bit. If you do interrupt, it could really mess things up. It may even require a trip to — gasp — the Genius Bar.

Follow Alyssa Bereznak on Twitter or email her.