The first betas of iOS 16.6 and macOS Ventura 13.5 went to developers on Friday. The same is true for iPadOS 16.6 beta 1, watchOS 9.6 beta 1 and tvOS 16.6 beta 1.
The timing might seem odd because Apple is expected to unveil iOS 17, macOS 14 and the replacements for its other operating systems in a couple of weeks, but this is normal.
iOS 16.6 and macOS Ventura 13.5 are on the way, WWDC23 or no WWDC23
Apple is always working on improving the operating systems for all its devices. As soon as one update is released, betas testing on the next begins. And this time of year, the company’s developers are coding two versions for all of them at the same time.
Long experience shows that WWDC23 will bring our first look at iOS 17, macOS 14, iPadOS 17, watchOS 10 and tvOS 17 — they’re very nearly the whole point of the developers conference.
But work on the previous versions won’t stop. Despite being announced at WWDC in June, the next generation of updates won’t be out until September, probably. Apple can’t let iOS 16 and macOS Ventura languish untouched for four months. So it will continue to put out updates with small improvements.
Hence Friday’s release of the first betas for iOS 16.6 and macOS 13.5, iPadOS 16.6, watchOS 9.6 and tvOS 16.6.
It’s not yet clear whether there will be any new features in these. It’s possible there won’t be. While Apple keeps working on these soon-to-be obsolete versions, this late in the cycle it saves important new features for their next major upgrades coming in autumn.
Just for devs
Currently, the first round of small updates for iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV are available only for devs who pay to be in Apple’s developer program, which costs $99 a year.
If Apple follows its usual habits, the second round of betas won’t be out for two weeks, which means they might be out during Worldwide Developers Conference 2023.