Craig Federighi, Apple senior vice president of Software Engineering, speaks about iOS 9 during Apple WWDC on June 8, 2015 in San Francisco, California / Getty Images

The company will offer the general public the chance to get their hands on new iPhone and iPad features before everyone else for the first time ever

Apple is to run the first ever beta for its mobile operating system this summer, letting customers start using iOS 9 as part of a special programme.

The official launch of the software isn’t expected until the autumn. But users can sign up any time for the beta programme, letting them get early versions of OS X 10.11 as well as iOS 9.

Apple will send the new software to members of the programme in July. They will be expected to register bugs and problems with Apple so that they can be improved before the full release later in the year.

Developers can get hold of the first betas of iOS 9 already, since they were released straight after the keynote. But they must pay £99 to join the developer programme as well as installing the beta themselves.

Eligibility for the beta programmes is the same as for the full release of iOS 9. That means that phones from the iPhone 4S and later, and iPads from the iPad 2 onwards, will be able to join it.

iOS 9 brings a new intelligent assistant, a specially-curated news app and performance, stability and battery improvements, among other new features. Mac OS X 10.11, which is known as El Capitan, brings some of the same features to Macs.

Click here to go to Apple's special page for the beta programme