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Apple’s iOS 10 Is Available for Beta Testers Who Want a Head Start

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An Apple store in San Francisco. The tech giant released an early version of its iOS 10 operating system for early adopters who want to help test it before its wider release in the fall.

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Noah Berger/Reuters

Apple on Thursday released an early version of its next mobile operating system, which will deliver some of the most substantial changes to iPhones and iPads in years.

So for those who are eager to try all the new features and are willing to be guinea pigs, there are a few important things to know about upgrading to the software.

The system, iOS 10, became available as a public beta, which means intrepid iPhone and iPad owners get to sample it and give feedback while Apple and developers continue to test it and to stomp out bugs before the software is more widely released in the fall.

For most consumers, there is little reason to upgrade this soon; the free, official iOS upgrade is only a few months away, and operating systems generally get better with time. Yet there can be some benefits to upgrading now.

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Apple’s iOS 10, which is now available as a public beta, includes new messaging features.

Early adopters who want a head start on using some of the iOS 10 features, like a new messaging app and improved photo software, should jump in, for example.

There is a communal benefit to upgrading now, too. If more early testers report bugs and give other feedback to Apple, it is less likely that major problems will remain on release. Microsoft used a similar public testing process for its operating system Windows 10, to gather information and fix problems. Though many consumers have run into hiccups with Windows 10, it has generally received positive reviews.

If you are hopping on the early-upgrade train for iOS, here are some tips for making the experience smoother and for avoiding disaster.

Enroll Your Device

The first step in obtaining the iOS beta is to sign up for Apple’s testing program, which involves signing in with your Apple ID on an Apple webpage.

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Images from iOS 10, provided by Apple. The beta release is intended to help Apple developers discover and stomp out bugs.

After enrolling, you will receive an email with steps on installing the upgrade.

Back Up Your Data

Before installing the upgrade, it is crucial to back up your device data in case something goes wrong. Apple recommends backing up your iPhone or iPad over a wired connection to a computer running the latest version of its iTunes software. After opening iTunes, select your Apple device and hit the Back Up Now button to create a backup on the computer.

Have an Emergency Plan

If something goes awry — for example, if an important app ceases to work properly — be aware of the steps to roll back to the previous version of iOS, which are listed on Apple’s support website. You will need to erase the new software and use iTunes to restore the backup you created on your computer, which will kick you back to iOS 9.

Get Acclimated

After you have safely installed the iOS 10 beta, get familiar with some of the new features. Some big changes won’t be usable yet — a smarter Siri voice assistant, for example, is awaiting third-party developers to update their apps to work with Siri.

For now, a new Messages app, which lets you send drawings and animations to other iOS 10 users, will be the biggest change. Apple also made its Photos app smarter — a feature called Memories will automatically compile multiple photos from an occasion, like your trip to Spain, into video montages. You can also test Apple’s redesigned apps for music, maps and news.

A bonus for iPhone 6S or 6S Plus owners is they can use 3D Touch, the feature that triggers different actions based on how hard you press the touch screen, to try some new tricks in iOS 10. When sending a text message, pressing harder on the send arrow opens a menu where you can select an animation to embed, like neon lasers or birthday balloons. Also, when a text-message notification pops up on the iPhone’s lock screen, you can use 3D Touch to press down on the notification and reply to the message without logging in.

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