How to download and install the iOS 8 update to your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch


After the biggest visual overhaul in iOS history last year, the new iOS 8 doesn't offer a bold and freshly overhauled look, but will bring many brand new features to your aging iOS device, and improved functionality. These are arriving to the Apple iPhone 4siPhone 5iPhone 5c, or iPhone 5s, your iPad 2iPad 3(new iPad), iPad 4, or iPad mini and mini 2 tablets, as well as your iPod touch 5th generation media player. 

Apart from the grandstanders, like the new Health application, or the Interactive Notifications set, we also have a smorgasbord of smaller feature update and improvements. And the news is "massive," as Apple says, since iOS 8 will also allow third-party keyboards, and even foreign widgets in the notifications center for the first time. Here's what you need to do to download and install iOS 8 on your iPhone or iPad:

Clean it up and Back up the truck


Such a major iOS update is a good excuse for some fall cleaning of your device. Delete contacts and messages you don't need any more, uninstall unnecessary apps that you don't use often or at all, and finally follow those prompts to update what's left to the newest versions.

You can then also sync your Camera Roll with iTunes, so as you don't slow the iCloud storage service, delete previous iCloud backups from your phone, and go deeper using the Manage Storage option, telling each individual app to sync or not with iCloud, like in the screenshot on the right.

To check if iCloud backups are enabled, go to Settings > iCloud > Storage>Backup, and make sure the iCloud Backup slider is at the ON position. You can also force a manual backup right now by going to Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup and tapping the large Back Up Now button at the bottom of the display.

You never know what might happen during such a major mobile OS update, so we'd advise that you back your entire phone up first, and then hit the airwaves or connect the cable for an upgrade via iTunes. Use that same iTunes software first to back up your phone, tablet or media player locally, and iCloud for the rest. 

Your settings, including application ones and in-app purchases, as well as Messages, Camera Roll, documents, saved games, and other important data can all be backed up in iTunes, and restored manually if something goes awry:

  1. Plug your iOS device into your primary computer via the provided cable.
  2. Open iTunes.
  3. For the latest iTunes 11.4, go to File > Devices > Back up, or: 

        In the iTunes window, click the iOS device button on the right.
        In the Backups section, click Back Up Now under "Manually Back Up and Restore."

  4. For iTunes 10.7:

       Right-click (or Control click) on your iOS device in the iTunes Source list.
       Choose Back Up from the iTunes device shortcut menu.

  5. Allow the backup to complete. You can monitor the status of the backup operation in the iTunes status screen.

For music, movies, TV shows, apps, and books you have purchased - these stay in iCloud and don't count towards your 5 GB of free storage quota, so you can use the storage to back up your mail, documents and recent media that hasn't been synced to your computer. These backups will run automatically when your device is on, plugged in and locked, and will go over Wi-Fi connection, so you don't really need to do much here. Exceptions?


Bear in mind that iCloud wouldn't back up music, movies, and TV shows not purchased from the iTunes Store, as well as podcasts and audio books, plus all the photos that were originally synced from your computer.

If, for some reason, you need to downgrade to the previous versions of iOS, you can use programs like TinyUmbrella (Mac / Windows) or iFaith (Windows), in case you are of the hacking and jailbreaking types, and if you are, you probably know already how to save your SHSH blobs with these programs, so you can roll back to undamaged states.

Two ways to update


You can either get to iOS 8 from whichever version you are running on your device through an over-the-air (OTA) update, or via the good old iTunes hookup. OTA is pretty self-explanatory, as the device prompts you there is a new version of iOS, and you just have to tap on, following the instructions to get the upgrade. If you are the more Nervous Nelly type, you can keep hitting Settings > General > Software update, and you might just get lucky like Pharell, and install it amongst the first on the block.

Users who are more comfortable the iTunes way can hook up their gear to the computer, and will receive the prompt you see on the left. 

Just click through the Download&Update button, and you will have your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch brought up to iOS 8 in no time.

Finally, we'd advise you somewhat counterintuitively to wait a little bit with the iOS 8 update. There have been occurrences when Apple's activation servers go down on account of the monster amount of immediate requests, and if you hit that button at the second the prompts appear, you might be left with a device that has no restoring in sight until the servers get up again. 

Thus it'd be wise not to jump the gun immediately, but do it in the evening at home, or the next morning, depending on your country, when the initial rush has watered down.

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26 Comments

1. KingDingaLing

Posts: 324; Member since: Oct 11, 2013

A big plus for IOS - Not having to wait months for an update depending on what phone/carrier you have.

6. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

I am sure iPhone 4 owners would disagree.

8. Quezdagreat

Posts: 428; Member since: Apr 05, 2012

The 4 year old phone? Right!. I wonder how the owners of the 2 year old s3 will feel when android L is released......

11. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

My reply was to his comment about 'not having to wait months' that has nothing to do with Android. Just because Android is worst in dealing with updates that doesn't make Apple perfect. and what about this news that just came in. How good is apple now with updates ?http://www.phonearena.com/news/Apple-cant-push-iPhone-6-to-China-its-shares-drop-in-response_id60749

12. Quezdagreat

Posts: 428; Member since: Apr 05, 2012

it doesn't matter, the iPhone 4 is 4 years old its obsolete now. Windows phone update aren't that great with updates either. Did you even read that article? that article is about shipping iPhone 6 to china, nothing about updates.

13. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

So now you're giving me WP's excuse, really ?! Did you even read my last comment ?!?!

14. Quezdagreat

Posts: 428; Member since: Apr 05, 2012

If your comment had nothing to do with android or WP, then what?

15. KingDingaLing

Posts: 324; Member since: Oct 11, 2013

All I'm sayin is, it kinda sucked with my Note 3 when I had to wait 3 months to get the kitkat update (granted ATT was a bit slow). And that, at the time, was a fairly new phone. With Apple, as soon as a new version of IOS is available, anyone can download/install it. Just an observation from an Android/IOS user.

16. JunitoNH

Posts: 1946; Member since: Feb 15, 2012

Old hardware, not even worth updating.

17. Deaconclgi

Posts: 405; Member since: Nov 03, 2012

People who own an iPhone 4 disagree with the not worth updating part of your comment. I sold my iPhone 4 because Apple thought it wasn't worth updating. Beyond updates, the iPhone 4 is great for regular use as a smartphone due to the large catalog of apps that can still be used on the 4. The lack of Siri on the iPhone 4 coupled with the lack of the latest version of iOS was the final nail for my 4. After selling it, I bought a Lumia 635 bundle due to having Cortana and the latest version of Windows Phone and the excellent Preview for Developers program if AT&T decides to shaft the 635 on updates. I still have a 4S and a iPad 4 to test out the latest iOS software. I sold my 64GB Gold iPhone 5S due to simply not using it much and the user experience being the same on the older iOS devices that I have. I liked the 5S for what it was and if iOS was my main OS, I would have kept it and been super hyped for iOS 8. As it stands for me, I just backed up my 4S so it will be ready for tomorrow but I'm not excited for iOS8 or even Android L that I have on my rooted Nexus 5. They both just seem like more of the same. I welcome any improvements and new features though and it will be interesting to see how the 4S handles iOS 8.

18. BladeofLiberation

Posts: 2; Member since: Dec 30, 2012

OK!! So you are saying you have iphone 4,4s,5s,ipad 4,nexus5,lumia 635; what are you ? you own a mobile store or something

22. roscuthiii

Posts: 2383; Member since: Jul 18, 2010

Perhaps Deaconclgi is just a mobile tech enthusiast, hence the presence here at PhoneArena... and the number of devices. Ever thought of that? If anything, a person with multiple devices over differing platforms should be listed to, at least listened to over those who will only tout one brand.

24. Raihanpatel111 unregistered

iDiot Spotted..... Samsung customize Android OS for Galaxy Devices thats why you need to wait for 4-5 months ..... If you really want to see quick update.. Just Compare Iphone updates with Nexus's Update....Google push OTA update right after the event... You dont even need to wait for 4-5 days..... Say now

2. HamzAmin

Posts: 81; Member since: Aug 15, 2014

Does anyone think that Apple is getting an over-attention on iPhone Arena

4. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

You're not alone. I'm just curious if PA does the same when Android L gets officially released.

19. Vexify

Posts: 570; Member since: Jun 16, 2014

They will. Just like they did when it was announced. Like you said, people have reading conprehension problems :P

5. gaara6775

Posts: 738; Member since: May 20, 2014

If you don't reply on iPhone article they won't get much attention.

7. Iodine

Posts: 1506; Member since: Jun 19, 2014

Maybe people care a lot more about a update that they will get tomorrow, than for a update they will be waiting for months.

10. darkkjedii

Posts: 31669; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Iodine, I can't wait to update my mini2, but I'm not gonna update my 5s. I'll wait till Friday to get the full iOS 8 experience on a shiny new 6+. I've out you know who on camp out duty, till I get off at 12noon. I'm not even gonna hit the gym Thursday, I'm headed to AT&T just as soon as I leave work, go home and shower.

9. darkkjedii

Posts: 31669; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

It's the android fanboys, not android users that give them the most attention though.

25. Raihanpatel111 unregistered

You might love to visit Verge ..... Apple pay money to make fake reviews to Verge Website

3. B-power

Posts: 258; Member since: Feb 22, 2014

Yes that's right

20. superduper

Posts: 151; Member since: Oct 20, 2013

Cool. Hopefully this update will roll out soon, if my 18 month old phone has sufficient hardware and my carrier is willing to approve, bloat, and seed its version of the OS. Christmas, maybe. Oh... wait a second....

21. plumix

Posts: 75; Member since: Aug 28, 2014

hey hey ! I Love when people have to read an article to know how to upgrade their phone ! :P that perfectly reflect the knowledge base iUser have ! Ps its the same F$#$# way then ever ! just in case, you have to close the refrigerator to keep food cold in it !

23. darkoman4

Posts: 183; Member since: May 30, 2014

Just bricked my iPad updating through iTunes. People, please update your iTunes before trying to update your iDevice. Nobody mentioned this important fact, and I found it out late. Now I am trying to restore my iPad but it fails every time.

26. Raihanpatel111 unregistered

Contact Apple for that :P They might help you with it

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