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Apple releases public beta of iOS 9

A beta version of iOS 9 is now available from the Apple website, giving users a chance to preview upcoming features before the official release this fall. This marks the first time Apple has opened its beta testing program to the general public for a major iOS release.

Work-in-progress beta versions of upcoming iOS updates are usually only available to registered app developers, but for iOS 9 Apple has opened up the floor to anyone willing to participate. This in turn means they can expect much more feedback than usual, which should lead to a better, less buggy official release in a couple months.

Although the main features of iOS 9 are under-the-hood performance upgrades, there are also several new features worth noting. As well as significant updates to the Notes and Maps apps, Apple is introducing a brand new app called News. There are also improvements to search, a smarter and more ‘proactive’ Siri, and split-screen multitasking on the iPad. Plus a new font!

Read more: a guide to the new features in iOS 9

In the meantime, be warned: if you decide to try out the beta, you can expect bugs. The current version of iOS 9 is unfinished, and as such is more prone than usual to crashes and things just plain not working properly. There’s also some associated extra battery drain from the background diagnostics that are run as part of the beta (you can switch the diagnostics off if privacy or battery life is a big concern).

Although for the most part it’s reasonably stable, most people will want to avoid testing the beta on their main device. An old iPhone or iPad may be a better option if you’re curious about the new features. And make sure to back up your device first!

You can try out theĀ prerelease version of iOS 9 here, and for full instructions, read ourĀ guide to downloading and installing the iOS 9 beta.