Quick turnaround for latest iOS 14 beta likely means no more new features


iOS 14 beta 2 adds a Files widget.
A Files Home screen widget appeared in iOS 14 beta 2. It’s unlikely any more new features like this will be forthcoming before the full release.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Apple seeded the sixth beta of iOS 14 to developers Tuesday, along with the iPad equivalent. That’s a week since the last betas were introduced — and the quick turnaround is a strong sign that Apple won’t add any more surprise features before the full release of these operating systems this autumn.

The world got its first look at iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June. The initial betas came out during the event. And since then, developers were given access to new beta versions every two weeks. In July, the general public gained the option to test the pre-release versions, too.

Each beta included a smattering of new features. Nothing dramatic — Apple announced the highlights at WWDC 2020. Mostly, these were a stream of new Home screen widgets.

iOS 14 beta 6 breaks the pattern

But iOS 14 developer beta 6 breaks the every-two-weeks pattern. It came out just one week after beta 5. Based on Apple practices over the years, that indicates that the company is done adding features.

The iPhone-maker generally gives developers two weeks to test new features, looking for bugs. But when there aren’t any more additions to be made, the company switches to a faster schedule.

Once it starts releasing new iOS betas every week, it means the emphasis is on fixing bugs. Apple seems to think developers need less time to look for new problems in updated versions that themselves just fixed earlier bugs.

An examination of iOS 14 beta 6 bears this out. So far, no significant changes have been found. And last week’s beta 5 brought only minor tweaks.

macOS is on a slightly different schedule

There was no macOS Big Sur beta 6 introduced Tuesday, but it’s currently running slightly behind.
While Apple also unveiled macOS Big Sur at WWDC, the company introduced the most recent beta version on Wednesday, August 19, one day after the iPhone update.

Apple could be planning to introduce the sixth macOS 11 beta this Wednesday. If it does, then it’s a sign that no more new features can be expected to be added to it, either. On the other hand, if the release isn’t until next week, then Mac users should look carefully for additions.