Apple’s new beta updates usher in iCloud folder sharing, universal purchases

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First iPadOS 13.4 Developer beta includes iCloud folder sharing
Developers can install iPadOS 13.4 to test out iCloud folder sharing. The same goes for iOS 13.4 and macOS 10.15.4.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The first pre-release versions of updates for all Apple computers include significant new features. iCloud folder sharing makes its delayed debut. And the ability to buy the iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and tvOS versions of third-party software as a single purchase is coming too.

These features appear in the initial developer betas of iOS 13.4, macOS 10.15.4, iPadOS 13.4, tvOS 13.4 and watchOS 6.2.

What’s coming to iOS, macOS, iPadOS, tvOS and watchOS

iCloud Drive folder sharing is about collaboration. It lets multiple users access the contents of an iCloud folder. This feature was originally scheduled to debut last fall, but Apple pushed it back. This feature is finally debuted today in the first developers betas for iOS 13.4, macOS 10.15.4 and iPadOS 13.4.

The first beta of the developer tool Xcode 11.4 is the source of universal purchases. Apple tells developers they’ll have the option to “distribute iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and tvOS versions of your app as a universal purchase, allowing customers to enjoy your app and in‑app purchases across platforms by purchasing only once.”

There are improvements to CarPlay in the iOS beta, and some new Memoji sticker types coming as well. It’s possible iOS 13.4 is also being created partially for the much-rumored budget iPhone. This is supposedly coming next month, about the time beta testing for this software update is likely to finish.

It’s not yet clear what new features are in tvOS 13.4 and watchOS 6.2.

iOS 13.3.1 and the iPad equivalent debuted a week ago fixing a significant bug in Screen Time. But they brought no new features.

New betas available now… only for devs

All five of the pre-release versions introduced are only for paying members of the Apple Developer Program. Devs get each new version before the general public because they are assumed to be more tolerant of buggy software. If a major problem crops up in a pre-release version, they’ll identify it before it affects beta testers who aren‘t developers.

But the general public will get their turn. Based on Apple’s past habits, public betas for iOS 13.4, iPadOS 13.4, macOS 10.15.4, and tvOS 13.4 will be out soon — possibly as early as tomorrow. The Apple Watch isn’t part of the public beta testing program.

There is as yet no definite word when the non-beta versions will reach iPhones, Macs, etc. The testing process is likely to take a month.