Apple’s new iPhone and iPad operating system – iOS 9 – will not be officially released to the public until the autumn. But you can get your hands on it today.

Apple's iOS 9

The company has released its ‘public beta’ – the work-in-progress version of the software which will continue to be polished over the next couple of months.

iOS 9 features a host of new features, including a beefed-up Notes app which allows you to doodle with your finger, an improved in-built Maps app featuring public transport maps and nearby highlights, and a new smart assistant that suggests news articles, apps and activities.

iPad users get even more benefits, with side-by-side multitasking allowing them to carry out two tasks at once, video playback which sits in the corner of other apps, and a handy shortcut bar for other apps.

There are also a number of minor but noticeable cosmetic tweaks across both platforms, including a new font and more polished app logos.

A News aggregation app will also appear as standard in the launch edition of iOS 9 but currently does not appear in the UK test version.

Here’s how to upgrade to iOS 9 for free:

:: Back-up your iPhone or iPad

This is really important. Beta versions of software can be temperamental with more bugs and glitches than you might be used to.

Many people who have tried iOS 9 say they are surprised by its stability, but it’s still important to be aware of the temporary frustration and inconvenience beta software could cause you.

So make sure your photos, contacts and other important information are all backed up in case anything goes wrong.

:: Sign up for Apple’s testing programme

Visit beta.apple.com/sp/betaprogram and click the blue “sign up” button, which will ask for your Apple ID.

Be sure to use the same ID you use on the iOS device you will be installing the new software on.

:: Using your iPhone or iPad visit beta.apple.com

Use Safari to reach then page, then sign in. After that, scroll down to ‘step two’ on the iOS section and tap on the ‘download profile’ button.

You should be redirected to your device’s Settings app, where you should have the option of tapping a button labelled ‘install’.

You’ll be asked to enter your device’s pin, then to accept the terms and conditions.

:: Once installed, restart your device

Once it has restarted, launch the Settings app.

Tap on ‘general’ then ‘software update’. At this point, iOS 9 should be waiting for you to install. Just press the ‘update’ button to get the process under way.

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