How to Install iOS 8.1 Early

Apple announced an iOS 8.1 beta on September 29th offering a collection of fixes for iOS 8 and iOS 8.0.2 problems to developers for testing. This hints at a quick iOS 8.1 release date for regular users, but you can’t install iOS 8.1 on your iPhone or iPad as an over the air update yet.

For users who can’t wait for an iOS 8.1 release date that could be weeks or months away, there is a way you can install the iOS 8.1 beta without waiting. This is the same method we shared for how to install iOS early.

The only official way to install iOS 8.1 early is to pay $99 and register as an iOS developer with Apple. iOS developers gain access to the iOS 8.1 downloads and are able to register their devices to install the iOS 8.1 beta.

Here's what you need to know about the iOS 8.1 beta.

Here’s what you need to know about the iOS 8.1 beta.

If you try to install the iOS 8.1 beta without registering a device as a developer device you won’t be able to complete the installation and you’ll be stuck with an unusable device until you manually install iOS 8.0.2 on it.

Users who don’t want to pay Apple $99 for the opportunity to develop apps and to try iOS 8.1 early can register their iPhone or iPad UDID with a site like ATFDL and then install iOS 8.1 beta software.

IMZDL will not upload the iOS 8.1 beta, so before you spend any money make sure you can find an iOS 8.1 beta download that works. ATFDL promises an iOS 8.1 beta download soon.

It’s important to remember that this is an iOS 8.1 beta, which means it is unfinished software. There may be bugs that crash the iPhone, battery life may be horrible on the iOS 8.1 beta and some apps may not work. It’s not a great idea for most users to install the iOS 8.1 beta on their main device.

Users who still have an old iPhone or iPad sitting around after upgrading may want to try iOS 8.1 early. If this sounds like you and you’re ready to accept that some things may not work — and you won’t leave negative reviews if apps crash on iOS 8.1 then you can follow the directions below to install iOS the iOS 8.1 beta.

How to Install the iOS 8.1 Beta Early

Follow these directions to install the iOS 8.1 beta now. You need to make sure you register the UDID for the device you plan to install it on. If you registered for the iOS 8 beta this June it should still work. This is not like the iOS 8 GM that installed on any device without the need to register with Apple.

If you proceed you will need to install other iOS 8.1 beta updates or risk losing access to your device when one of the betas expires. If this happens you need to restore the device to use it again and will lose access to your data that was not backed up or synced. Keep in mind iCloud and other iCloud features may not work right during the beta.

1. Find an iOS 8.1 beta download link from a site like IMZDL or on social media.

2. Download the right iOS 8.1 beta for your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

3. Plug the device into the computer and perform a backup. You should be able to upgrade without losing anything, but this is a good idea.

Install iOS 8.1 early.

Install iOS 8.1 early.

4. Open iTunes and upgrade to the iOS 8.1 beta by choosing Update.

  • Be sure to hold alt/option on Mac when you click Update.
  • On Windows, hold Shift when you click Update.

5. Find and click on the .ipsw file you downloaded.

Find the right file to install the iOS 8.1 beta now.

Find the right file to install the iOS 8.1 beta now.

6. Complete the iOS 8.1 beta installation.

Users can install the iOS 8 GM on the iPhone 5s, iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPad Air iPad 4, iPad 3, iPad 2, iPad mini Retina and iPad mini as well as the iPod touch 5th gen.

Officially you can not downgrade back to iOS 8.0.2, but in most cases this is possible, by following the same instructions, but with the older file. You won’t be able to restore an iOS 8.1 backup to an iOS 8.0.2 device though.

What’s New in iOS 8

iOS 8 vs iOS 7 Walkthrough - Home Screen

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iOS 8 vs iOS 7 Walkthrough - Home Screen

We start our iOS 8 vs iOS 7 walkthrough with the iPhone home screen, which is where you'll start your iOS 8 experience after an update this fall. 

These screens are incredibly important as you see them anytime you turn on the iPhone or need to choose an app to launch. There is no way around using them, so Apple needs to make sure they work just right. 

As you can see in the iOS 8 vs iOS 7 comparison above, there is no change between the home screen in the new iPhone software. Apple changed the status bar and some other small visual changes in iOS 7, but there are no updates for iOS 8.  

We could see Apple change the home screen slightly for iOS 8 for the iPhone 6. The new iPhone will feature a larger 4.7-inch display with a higher resolution. This is something Apple may use to add more icons to the screen. Or they could stick with the current layout, it's tough to tell.  

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