iOS 15, iPadOS 15 and watchOS 8 take giant step toward release [Updated]

By

iOS 15, iPadOS 15 and watchOS 8 take giant step toward release
The OS upgrades for almost every Apple device are nearly ready. But an important one is missing.
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

The moment we’ve been waiting for since June is almost here. Apple seeded Release Candidates for iOS 15, iPadOS 15, watchOS 8 and tvOS 15 to developers on Tuesday. This means the beta testing process is almost over.

The final versions will reach users in under a week. Apple promised the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch updates will launch on Monday, September 20. And the Apple TV one could be out the same day.

Taking the last step in testing

Apple unveiled iOS 15, iPadOS 15, watchOS 8 and tvOS 15 at the WWDC developers conference in June. Since then, they’ve gone through eight or nine rounds of beta tests, depending on the operating system. But the most recent build numbers for all of them end with “a,” giving a heads up that the testing process was nearly over.

And the newly released release candidates are the last step. They’re what Apple used to call golden masters, and give beta testers an opportunity to test the final version of operating systems before they’re introduced to the general public.

But sometimes nasty bugs turn up in release candidates. If so, there’ll be RC2 in a few days.

Expect iOS 15, watchOS 8, etc. next week

Apple unveiled the iPhone 13 during a glitzy press event on Tuesday, and this model will surely require iOS 15. Almost lost in the hoopla was a note that the software update will be available for everyone on Sept. 20.

The same goes for iPadOS 15. The newly announced iPad 9 and iPad mini will need this version, but those with older tablets will also get their OS upgrade on Sept. 20.

This means everyone will soon be able to use new features like Focus and Live Text. Plus there’s a new multitasking system in iPadOS 15. But there SharePlay won‘t be included, as this feature is still in development.

The wraps also came off Apple Watch Series 7 at Tuesday’s big Apple event. So watchOS 8 will be needed soon. It’s also coming for previous models next Monday.

And tvOS 15 is also a variation of iOS 15 with many of the same features so it’s not surprising that Apple told The Verge that Apple TV’s will get their update on Sept. 20 too.

The iOS 15, iPadOS 15, watchOS 8 and tvOS 15 release candidates are currently only for registered and paying members of the Apple Developer Program. But public versions should be out soon.

Note the absence of macOS Monterey

Mac users are likely to have a longer wait. A macOS Monterey release candidate was not seeded to developers for testing on Tuesday. And Apple has made no mention of when a final version will be out.

And this operating system isn’t nearing the end of the testing process. The build number for the most recent beta doesn’t end with “a.” It ends in “j,” showing there could be up to 8 more betas before counting down to “a.” And some features announced at WWDC are still missing, including Universal Control.

In short, macOS Monterey could still be a month or more away. It’s likely to debut alongside new MacBooks that could be unveil in October.

Update: This article was first published Sept. 14. It was updated with the final release date for iOS 15, iPadOS 15 and watchOS 8 on Sept. 15.