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How to ditch the iOS 9 preview and go back to iOS 8

Michael deAgonia | July 24, 2015
This is a time of temptation for Apple enthusiasts, many of whom are eager to get their hands -- and devices -- on the company's newest software. Between June, when company execs tout the upcoming versions of Apple's desktop and mobile operating systems, and the fall, when the polished, finished versions arrive, Apple users get a chance to serve as beta testers.

ios 9 primary
Credit: Apple

This is a time of temptation for Apple enthusiasts, many of whom are eager to get their hands -- and devices -- on the company's newest software. Between June, when company execs tout the upcoming versions of Apple's desktop and mobile operating systems, and the fall, when the polished, finished versions arrive, Apple users get a chance to serve as beta testers.

Having a hardcore set of fans eager to try out the latest software is a benefit that Apple has embraced. Last year, it allowed users to check out pre-release versions of OS X 10.10 Yosemite. This year, they can beta test OS X 10.11 El Capitan and -- for the first time -- an early version of the company's mobile operating system -- in this case, iOS 9. (Not available as a public beta is the pre-release build of Watch OS, which is a good thing; some of the developers that have tried it have found it to be unstable, and who wants to brick their brand new Apple Watch?)

To do so, users must sign up for Apple's Beta Software Program, which is free. The program allows access to relatively stable versions of the pre-release software and gives Apple engineers a wider audience to test it. That, theoretically, leads to more bugs uncovered and fixed before the final release. Public betas roll out every few weeks -- the most recent one arrived yesterday.

The problem with the time between beta and final releases is that many people who aren't developers or technology insiders use their primary device to test what is actually unfinished software -- and pre-release software is historically unstable, at best. Yes, Apple routinely warns you not to use your main iPhone, iPad or desktop to test the software. And users routinely ignore that advice.

But there's good news for iPhone and iPad owners who took the plunge into iOS 9 and have now decided -- whether because of problematic apps or the need for a more stable OS -- they prefer iOS 8. You can downgrade your device, and it's not even that difficult to do. But there is a caveat: Any data accumulated between the last time your device was backed up running iOS 8 and since the upgrade to iOS 9 will be lost, even if you recently backed up your data. Put simply, you cannot restore backup data from iOS 9 to a device running iOS 8; it's not compatible. The best you can do is restore from the most recent backup of iOS 8.

Assuming you still want to return to iOS 8, here's what to do.

 

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