Since it was announced earlier this month, iOS 11 has attracted a lot of attention. As usual, it was released to developers straight away and reaches the rest of us in the autumn.

But if you just can’t wait, the iOS 11 public beta program has just gone live.

So, should you upgrade, how do you do it and what are the downsides?

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I’ll be taking a first look at the changes in depth soon but they include significant benefits for iPad users including a dock that looks almost like it does on a MacBook, a Files app and drag-and-drop functionality. 

There are also improved features for the iPhone and iPad camera, including Long Exposure and more versatile Live Photos.

There’s an updated App Store – complete with snazzy new shortcut icon – and indoor maps for major airports for Apple Maps.

All very jolly, but Apple warns that a beta software version isn’t for just anyone.

For a start, the company recommends you should back up your device before you let it anywhere near the beta. This means that if you decide the public beta isn’t for you, you can revert to this back-up then by restoring the device.

And it’s best to put the software on a secondary gadget, not the iPhone you depend on every day, for instance. After all, this is beta software, not finished stuff, so some things will go wrong. 

One of the benefits of joining the beta program is you get to see what’s coming before anyone else, but you may find that some third-party apps don’t work properly at first. 

It also means that you can leave your thoughts through the Feedback Assistant app that’s built into the beta.

Of course, it’s free, just like the final software will be when it arrives in the autumn.

If you think it’s for you, here’s how to go about it.

Log in to beta.apple.com and sign up with your Apple ID. Once that’s done, you can enrol your device, which is where Apple will remind you to archive an iOS backup (with instructions on how to do so).

Then you’ll need to download the configuration profile, which is easily done. From the iPhone, iPad or iPod touch on to which you’re going to put the beta software, go to beta.apple.com/profile where you’ll find onscreen instructions.

Then just update to iOS 11 public beta by going to Settings, then General and Software Update.

Allow the gadget a while to update to its new software and then, well, enjoy the changes. Beta software changes all the time, so expect extra features to arrive, battery response to be tweaked and so on. 

Once that’s done, you’re set. Enjoy.

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