Dive in: Latest iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 public betas are stable enough to try


Dive in: Latest iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 public betas are stable enough to try
iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 bring some welcome new features. And you can try them out now, if you can tolerate their bugs.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Tired of just reading about the new iPhone Lock Screen and want to try it? Really eager to make full use of an external screen with your iPad? There’s good news: Apple released new public betas of iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 this week, and my testing shows they’re stable enough for average users to try them out.

That said, be cautious. These are prerelease versions — they still have bugs. The final versions aren’t expected for months, and there’s still plenty of room for improvement

Some great new features come in iOS 16 and iPadOS 16

Apple unveiled iOS 16 at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June, and undoubtedly the highlight is improvements to the Lock Screen. It’s much more customizable, and you can add widgets.

And that’s not all. You can unsend and edit messages. Plus, horizontal Face ID unlock is finally a thing.

iPadOS 16 was also revealed at WWDC22 and is more controversial because some of the best features are only for iPads with M-series processors. That includes the biggest change: support for floating app windows on the iPad and on external displays. But all iPads get a collection of other enhancements.

What a difference a few weeks makes

Beta testing of iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 began for developers even before WWDC22 ended. I used those early versions, but did so only because it’s my job. They were very unstable. The new features were there, but so were random crashes and software incompatibilities. I had to force-reboot my iPad more times than I can count.

The first public betas came out in early July. And while Apple thought these were ready for average users to test, I disagreed.

But this week brought the second public betas, which are also the fourth developer betas of iOS 16 and iPadOS 16. There was a three-week wait for these, and my real-world testing shows Apple used the time to fix many of the worst problems.

iOS 16 public beta 2 offers better battery life

For me, the biggest issue with the previous iOS 16 beta was poor battery life. Betas are typically inefficient, but this one was especially bad, to the point where my iPhone 13 would heat up any time I used it more than briefly.

The new public beta 2 out this week does not have this problem. I used it for several days to be sure. Apple will likely continue to further tweak it to extend battery life, but the current version is acceptable.

To be clear, there are still bugs in iOS 16, but no deal-breakers. At least not for me. YMMV. So, if you’re feeling brave, why not give it a try?

iPadOS 16 public beta 2 is not as buggy as before, either

With the addition of floating app windows in Stage Manager and on external displays, iPadOS 16 is more ambitious than the iPhone upgrade. So it’s not surprising that iPad users endured a buggier experience with early betas.

I’ve throughly tested the capabilities — my iPad Pro is my primary computer and I have an external display connected to it whenever I’m working. I use the second screen for secondary tasks, including email and Slack. With this setup and the first rounds of betas from June and early July, the operating system crashed frequently and some third-party apps crashed hourly.

With the new iPadOS 16 public beta 2, most of the serious issues have been dealt with. I still run into problems, but not nearly as frequently.

Most of the difficulties I experience come from third-party apps. For example, both Slack and Twitter still occasionally give me a black screen when switching them between the iPad and an external screen. The only fix is to close and then reopen them.

Twitter and Slack do not like iPadOS 16
Twitter and Slack still occasionally lock up when running the new iPadOS 16 beta. The result is black app windows.
Screenshot: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Even with that, iPadOS 16 is a lot more usable than it was a few weeks ago. To the point where I think average users wouldn’t be too frustrated.

Go get ’em

If you’re looking for a project this weekend, and your tolerance for software bugs is fairly high, install iOS 16 and/or iPadOS 16.

It’s free and easy. I wrote a guide to walk you through the process. I strongly suggest you pay attention to the section on backing up your device before installing any beta so you can revert to a non-beta version if necessary.

Last warning time: You will encounter bugs as well as problems with third-party applications with these beta versions of iOS 16 and iPadOS 16. If you truly depend on your iPhone or iPad, wait until the final versions, which will almost certainly debut in September.


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