Apple is releasing iOS 8 today. With hundreds of new features, this free update is like getting a new iPhone or iPad. Last year’s iOS 7 update saw Apple going in a completely new direction, introducing a new design that extended to stock and third party applications. This year is more about refinement, more about building features that customers like you, want. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be delving into each and every new iOS 8 feature, as part of our continuing how-to series. First things first, here’s the complete step-by-step guide on how to upgrade to iOS 8. We’ll cover both upgrading using iTunes and OTA (over the air), plus everything you need to know about preparing your device, backing up and what killer features you can expect.

Upgrade to iOS 8

What devices support iOS 8?

Here is a list of devices that support iOS 8. Apple has dropped support for the iPhone 4 this year, a device that was eligible for iOS 7. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus ship with iOS 8 pre-installed.

iOS 8 compatible devices


  • iPhone 6 Plus
  • iPhone 6
  • iPhone 5s
  • iPhone 5c
  • iPhone 5
  • iPhone 4s


  • iPad Air
  • iPad with retina display
  • iPad 4th generation
  • iPad 3rd generation
  • iPad 2
  • iPad mini with Retina display
  • iPad mini


  • iPod touch 5th generation

Preparing to update

Important: Backup Using iTunes or iCloud

iOS upgrades often go off without a hitch. However, there are the rare circumstances where things don’t as planned. To be on the safe side, it’s always a good idea to back up your iOS device using iTunes or iCloud. If possible, it’s recommended that you do both, thereby having a cloud backup and local backup. To backup using iTunes, connect your device and select File > Devices > Backup.

Devices backup

To backup using iCloud, select Settings > iCloud > Backup > Back Up Now.

iPhone iCloud backup

Free Up Storage

The iOS 8 upgrade requires a minimum of 5.7GB of free storage space when installing OTA. You can either delete content from your device or update using iTunes. Apps, movies, music and documents can all play a role in filling up your storage. To see what are the culprits, select Settings > General > Usage > Manage Storage. It will provide you with a list, sorted by storage usage. Games are typically the most serious offenders.

Manage storage

Make a list of the apps you don’t use. Press and hold until the icons begin to ‘jiggle’. Tap on the ‘X’ for any app you’d like to delete. As a reminder, deleting apps does not remove them from your account. Once you install the iOS 8 update, you can simply reinstall any apps, provided you have the storage space.

Delete apps

iOS ‘Other’ data storage

If you plugin your iPhone to your computer, iTunes will present you with a bar that displays storage usage for photos, apps, documents and data, and the mysterious ‘Other’. It also shows the amount of free space. This can include data from apps, saved email, Safari cache and history, text messages and miscellaneous junk. Over time, this can grow and follow you with each update or restore. One of the best ways to tackle an overgrowing ‘Other’, is to setup your iPhone as new. This option isn’t for everyone, but just know that you do have options when it comes to reducing the amount of storage used by ‘Other’.


How to upgrade to iOS 8 over-the-air (OTA)

There is no easier way to upgrade to iOS 8 than over-the-air (OTA). In theory, iOS 8 is no different than any other update, so the process remains the same. Power on your iOS device and take a look at the Settings icon. When Apple pushes a new release, you’ll typically see a red badge, unless you already have auto-updates enabled. You’ve no doubt seen similar badges on the Mail or App Store apps. You can check if your iOS device is set to receive automatic software updates by selecting Settings > iTunes & App Store > Automatic Downloads > Updates.  If not, have no fear, because we can manually check for updates.
1. Plugin your device and make sure you are connected to a WiFi network.
2. Tap on Settings > General > Software Update.
3. You should see the iOS 8 update, with options to learn more. Just below, select Download and Install.
4. When the download completes, you’ll have an option to select ‘Install’. If for some reason you need your phone, you can opt for ‘Later’. iOS will retain the download and you can simply restart the process at your convenience.

How to upgrade to iOS 8 using iTunes

iTunes is great way to upgrade the software on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. These upgrades are typically faster than over-the-air. Your home Internet connection is often faster and more reliable, especially if it is a hard-wired ethernet connection. Make sure that you have the latest version of iTunes installed on your Mac or PC. On a Mac, you can select iTunes > Check for updates or open the Mac App Store, which will also advise you of pending updates. The current version is 11.4. For PC users, select the Start menu and select Apple Software Update.

Lightning cable iPhone

1. Connect your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch using the USB cable that came with your iOS device or a compatible MFi cable.
2. Your iPhone will either appear in the left hand column (if side-view is enabled, View > Show Sidebar) or at the top right. Select your iPhone.
3. The ‘Summary’ pane should be selected, with information and a photo of your iPhone. Select the ‘Check for Update’ option.
4. You’ll see an option to download and update to iOS 8. Select this and the download process will begin.

Check for update

You can go grab a cup of coffee and wait for the process to complete. When iOS 8 is first released, Apple’s servers are typically jammed with folks trying to download the new release. During the initial rush, it can take a bit longer to upgrade. Typically, this process shouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes or so.

How to setup as new and clean install iOS 8

If you’ve been experiencing problems with your iPhone, you might want to use iOS 8 as a fresh start. Using iTunes, we can restore your iPhone to its factory settings. This means that all your data and media will be erased. If you have previously created a backup, you always have the option to restore from backup. We’ll touch on that option next. If you are looking to do a clean install of iOS 8, the whole idea behind this method is to avoid re-introducing problematic software or data.

Reminder: This option will remove your data and media.

1. Connect your iOS device to your Mac or PC. Open iTunes if it does not launch by itself.
2. Select your iPhone either from the left hand menu or from the top right.
3. Under ‘Summary’, click on ‘Restore iPhone…’

Restore iPhone

4. You’ll be asked if you are sure you would like to restore your iPhone to its factory settings. Again, you’ll receive a warning that all of your media and other data will be erased. Select ‘Restore’ to continue.

Sure restore
5. iTunes will download the latest version of iOS 8 and start the installation process. During this, your iPhone will reboot. You should see a black Apple logo against a gray background. Below it will be a progress bar for the software install.

6. Next you’ll see a message pop-up in iTunes that “Your iPhone has been restored to factory settings, and is restarting. Please keep your iPhone connected. It will appear in the iTunes window after it starts. Select ‘Setup as new iPhone’.

Setup as new iPhone


7. Disconnect your iPhone and you’ll see the ‘Hello’ screen. Follow the steps on your iPhone that follow.

  • Select a WiFi network and enter password.
  • Location Services: Enable or Disable.
  • Sign in with your Apple ID and agree to terms and conditions.
  • Choose to use iCloud or don’t use iCloud.
  • If you select use iCloud, Find My iPhone is automatically enabled in iOS 8.
  • New in iOS 8 is iCloud Drive. This will allow you to access files in iCloud on devices upgraded to iOS 8 or Mac OS X Yosemite.
  • Touch ID: Enable or Disable. If you enable, you’ll go through the process of setting up Touch ID.
  • Create a passcode.
  • Setup iCloud Keychain.
  • Choose whether you’d like to use Siri or not.
  • Allow Apple to automatically send or don’t send diagnostics about your phone and usage.

Important: If you are a Mac user without Yosemite installed, Cloud document syncing will stop working on your Macs. In the interim, you can simply select Not Now.

The whole process shouldn’t take longer than 5-10 minutes. When completed, you should see this screen shot welcoming you to iPhone.

Welcome to iPhone


What’s new in iOS 8?

Have you upgraded yet? Here’s what are just a few of the awesome new features you can expect from iOS 8.

Have questions or need help? Leave your car parked in the driveway and skip the Genius Bar. Our forums are filled with iPhone and iPad experts, who can help you with just about any iOS question. Join for free!

Related Resources

iOS 8 forums