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Here’s how to download Apple iOS 9

An up-to-date guide on staying up-to-date.


AJ Dellinger


For whatever reason, iOS Update Day still hasn’t been acknowledged as a national holiday and placed it on the calendar for Sept. 16, so it may have snuck up on you. 

But guess what: As of today, you can update your favorite Apple device to iOS 9. Get ready to enjoy better battery life, improved Siri functionality, and being one step closer to the new emojis coming to iOS 9.1.

Here’s what you need to know to update your device.


First things first: Can your device actually run iOS 9? Even though the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system is rolling out roughly alongside the launch of Apple’s newest iPhone model, the update is available for devices as old as four years.

If you own any iPhone dating back to the 4s (which originally launched with iOS 5), you’ll be able to run iOS 9. That covers the iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5C, iPhone 5s, and iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus will also enjoy iOS 9, because duh.

For iPad owners, everything but the first generation of the tablet will be able to update to iOS 9. Every model of the iPad Mini will be able to make the jump. And hey, why not grab yourself an iPad Pro so you can have your very own Goldilocks dilemma with your tablets?

For the folks who still prefer to keep music on their own device rather than streaming it, the fifth and new sixth generation of the iPod Touch will also be eligible for the update.

Back up your device

Updating your operating system can make your phone feel so fresh and so clean, but if things go wrong (and they have before), your device is going to feel even newer because you’ll have to perform a factory reset to restore your bricked device. With that in mind, it’s best to back things up.

iCloud is the easiest way to back up your device. You can enable Apple’s cloud storage service by going to Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup. From there, you’ll see a toggle switch. Flick it over to the “On” position, then hit “Back Up Now.” Note that you’ll have to be connected to Wi-Fi to perform the backup.

When you do this, iCloud will save photos and videos from your Camera Roll, settings and app data, your home screen, iMessage and text messages, ringtones, and voicemail—essentially everything you need to make you feel at home with the new OS. Only 5GB of iCloud storage is free, though you can pay for up to 1TB.

If you’re wary of the cloud or find iCloud to be too much of a mess to deal with, you can always back up your device to your computer. Of course, you’ll be performing this operation through iTunes, a program not known for its track record of user friendliness.

The benefit of iTunes is that you’ll be able to save so much more stuff. Connect your device to your computer, open up iTunes, and go to File > Devices > Transfer Purchases. When that process is complete, go to File > Devices > Back Up. You may also want to manually back up other files while you’re at it. Apple lays out exactly what is and isn’t backed up automatically in its support documentation.

Make some room

The update to iOS 9 might be free as far as money goes, but it’s not free when it comes to storage space. Go to Settings, then follow General > Usage > Manage Storage to do some app deletion. You can see your apps ranked based on how much space they’re eating up and can quickly eliminate the ones you don’t use.

If you can’t free up enough space, Apple will temporarily delete apps from your device to create the necessary space, then reinstall them once iOS 9 lays claim to the portion of the drive it requires. So if you feel like you’re being forced to make a Sophie’s Choice-like decision with your apps, Apple can make the call for you. 

Download iOS 9

If you did everything above, then you’re totally ready to hook up your device with a shiny new OS. Plug in to a power source, head to Settings > General > Software Update, and tap “Download and Install.” Try to get some work done while the update installs instead of watching the status bar slowly fill up while you impatiently tap your fingers against your desk.

Photo via Robert/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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