Any iPhone or iPad user can install the iOS 8 beta today, should they so wish. But there are a couple of caveats. For one thing, if you don't already have an Apple Developer account, you will need to pay $99 to register for one. More importantly, you will be installing a beta OS on your iPhone or iPad. Incomplete software releases offer an exciting glimpse of the future, but there will be bugs. And you may find that apps you use in iOs 7 don't yet work properly in iOS 8. (See also: The best smartphones of 2014.)
How to get iOS 8 now: join the iOS 8 beta programme
To install iOS 8 ahead of the public launch you need to join the iOS Developer Program.
Like all beta-testing programmes the idea here is that users can get to grips with a new OS, generating and pointing out errors to the software publisher Apple. But even more important to Apple is that apps developers get a chance to try the new OS, so they can get to work in writing new apps and updating existing apps for the new operating system. So the iOS 8 beta programme is primarily aimed at app developers.
In order to install it, then, you need to become a registered Apple developer. To do so simply head over to Apple's developer site and enrol for the iOS Developer Program using your Apple ID. You will need to pay $99 a year.
How to get iOS 8 now: download and install the iOS 8 beta
In the online iOS Dev Center you need to register your iPhone- or iPad's UDID. This is a unique identifying number that will let Apple know on which devices iOS 8 beta is running. To find your iPhone or iPad's UDID plug it into iTunes, click on the device's icon in the top righthand corner, view the Summary tab and click on Serial Number.
Input the UDID into the correct field on the iOS Dev Center website.
The iOS Dev Center website will now prompt you to download the appropriate version of the iOS 8 beta for your iPhone or iPad. Select the correct model from the list provided.
While downloading the iOS 8 beta to your PC or Mac, back up the iPhone or iPad on which you're going to install the iOS 8 beta.
Once the download is complete, unzip the file. You'll now have a file with the extension .IPSW. Connect your iPhone or iPad to iTunes.