Apple betas

First iOS 17.4 beta brings new emoji plus huge changes for EU

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iOS 17.4 logo
iOS 17.4 will bring changes, but you'll have to live in Europe to get most of them.
Image: Apple/Cult of Mac

Apple seeded the first beta of iOS 17.4 to developers Thursday, offering a first look at new emoji coming soon to iPhone. For Europeans, the update will be a major one, as it will allow users to sideload apps (among other big changes).

Also on Thursday came the initial betas of iPadOS 17.4 and tvOS 17.4. There’s no sign yet of macOS 14.4 beta 1, however.

Finding what to watch gets easier in redesigned Apple TV app

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Apple may simplify its TV app for users by the end of the year.
Apple may simplify its TV app for users by the end of the year.
Photo: Apple

Finding what to watch with the Apple TV app is about to get easier. The newly released developer beta for tvOS 17.2 gives a preview of the new navigation users will soon see.

Apple TV+ and other content sources will surface in a sidebar list on the left side of app pages.

iOS 17 beta 7: All the new features and changes

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iOS 17 preview
The fourth iOS 17 developer beta is here with some minor changes.
Photo: Apple

Apple continues beta testing iOS 17, with the seventh beta dropping on August 22nd. As the beta program has progressed, the company has made fewer and fewer user-facing changes to new builds.

It’s the same story with iOS 17 beta 7, which hardly packs any meaningful changes or improvements. Below is everything new in the latest iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 beta.

Latest iOS 17 beta moves End Call button back to the center

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Before and after screenshots show the location of the End Call button in the two most recent iOS 17 betas.
The End Call button jumps back to a more familiar position in iOS 17.
Image: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Apparently responding to online criticism, Apple returned the End Call button to a central location in iOS 17. Previously, Apple moved the button to the right side of the Phone application.

That change proved controversial, and Apple reversed it in the sixth iOS 17 beta recently seeded to developers.

iOS 16.1 beta begins testing new iPhone features

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iOS 16.1 beta begins testing new iPhone features
iOS 16.1 beta 1 is out for developers to test.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Apple seeded the first beta of iOS 16.1 to developers on Wednesday. This signals the start of testing for some iPhone features Apple already announced but didn’t debut in iOS 16.

This includes Clean Energy Charging. And there’s good news for some iPhones that couldn’t display battery percentage in the Status Bar.

iOS 16 beta 6: All the new features and changes

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iOS 16 beta 4: All the new features and changes
iOS 16 beta 6 is a little light on changes.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

With iOS 16 likely just a month away from release, Apple is picking up the tempo of beta releases of the operating system. Apple seeded iOS 16 beta 6 Monday, a mere seven days after the fifth beta. Along with that increase in release speed, the latest beta packs only minor changes.

As iOS 16 nears its stable launch, we are going to see Apple focus more on squashing bugs and improving the overall stability instead of adding new features or tweaking things around.

iOS 16 betas hint at new Siri Remote for Apple TV

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The current Siri Remote was an improvement on its predecessor.
The current Siri Remote was an improvement on its predecessor.
Photo: Apple

Watchful eyes have spotted code in the first two iOS 16 beta versions that appears to refer to an unreleased Siri Remote for Apple TV.

Information is scant, but chances are this is the new remote for a 4K Apple TV system with a updated price structure that could come out this year.

How to install the iOS 16 developer beta

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Get access to the new features and APIs in iOS 16 with the Developer Beta today.
Get access to the new features and APIs in iOS 16 with the Developer Beta today. Featuring my dog, Indy Anna Jones.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

iOS 16 was announced with some awesome, radical new features: a completely redesigned Lock Screen, a shared Photo Library for families, editing and un-sending iMessages, advanced new features in Maps and more. It’s especially hard this year to wait until September to get your hands on it.

Developers have a busy summer ahead of them, too. I spoke with some developers while at WWDC (no, I’m not done flexing that yet) and afterwards on Twitter. Developers are especially excited about creating Lock Screen widgets for their apps, using the new advanced features of SwiftUI and experimenting with the Live Text API.

But you don’t have to wait to get your hands on the beta. Registered developers can install the iOS 16 developer beta today. According to Apple, the Public Beta will be coming sometime in July. If you pay $99 for a developer account, installing the beta on your device is fast and easy. Here’s how.

Apple isn’t done with iOS 15 and macOS 12 yet

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Apple isn’t done with iOS 15 and macOS 12 yet
Teasing begins on first betas of iOS 15.6, macOS 12.5 and more Apple operating system updates.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Apple seeded the first betas of iOS 15.6 and macOS 12.5 to developers on Wednesday, even though their replacements will be announced in less than a month. iOS 16 and macOS 13 will surely be unveiled at the WWDC developers conference in early June, but work on their predecessors goes on.

Developers were also given access to iPadOS 15.6 beta 1, watchOS 8.7 beta 1 and tvOS 15.6 beta 1.

tvOS 15.4 brings improved video player with ‘Up Next’ queue

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tvOS 15.4 with Up Next queue
Apple continues to make tvOS even better.
Image: Sigmund Judge

The first tvOS 15.4 beta brings an improved video player with a built-in “Up Next” queue to Apple TV. The update, released Thursday by Apple, also allows users to connect to captive Wi-Fi networks for the first time.

The changes come after Apple TV got a completely redesigned video player with larger titles and more accessible subtitles in tvOS 15 last fall.

First iOS 15.3 beta is all bug fixes [Updated]

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iOS 15.3 beta 1, iPadOS 15.3, watchOS 8.4 beta 1, tvOS 15.3 beta 1
Apple began beta testing iOS 15.3 and a lot more.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Apple seeded the initial iOS 15.3 beta to developers later than usual Friday, along with the iPadOS equivalent. And on Monday, Apple added iOS 15.3 beta 1 and iPadOS 15.3 beta 1 to the Apple Beta Software Program. So far, no one has been able to find any new features in them.

watchOS 8.4 beta 1 and tvOS 15.3 beta 1 also went to developers Friday.

First macOS 12.1 Monterey beta resumes testing missing features

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First macOS 12.1 Monterey beta resumes testing missing features
macOS 12.1 might bring some much anticipated Monterey features.

Developers just got their hands on macOS 12.1, the initial major update to Monterey. It’s Apple’s first opportunity to test features missing from macOS 12, like SharePlay and Universal Control.

But the beta is so new it’s not yet clear whether these features are in it yet.

Latest iPadOS 15 beta makes big changes to Safari

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Latest iPadOS 15 beta makes big changes in Safari
Apple isn’t exactly walking back some of the biggest changes in iPadOS 15. But it’s giving users to option to do so.
Screenshot: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Apparently responding to criticism of the Safari redesign in iPadOS 15, a beta released Tuesday makes significant changes to the layout of the Safari web browser. The newest iteration gives users the option to view the Address Bar very much like it looks in iPadOS 14. But those who prefer can keep the new compact view.

Original HomePods reportedly ‘bricked’ by 14.6 software update

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HomePod speaker
Everything you heard about the HomePod is true.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Recent reports suggest owners of the original HomePod should steer clear of the device’s software version 14.6 and the newer version 15 update for beta users.

After numerous reports surfaced on Reddit and elsewhere, it appears the updates “brick” some users’ devices in certain configurations.

Siri gets new voices, and won’t default to female, in iOS 14.5

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Apple’s AI-driven voice-controlled digital assistant Siri
Siri just became more gender fluid.
Image: Apple

After almost a decade of using a female voice by default, Siri users will be given a choice of voices for the virtual assistant when they set up Apple devices. The virtual assistant will also come with two new English-language voices.

These changes debuted in iOS 14.5 beta 6 and the iPads equivalent, which Apple seeded to developers Wednesday.

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

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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.

iOS 14 beta 4 adds TV widget, fixes bugs [Updated]

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iOS 14 Beta 4 makes it easier to watch TV on your iPad
Just tap on the Apple TV widget to jump to your favorite shows in iPadOS 14.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

A highlight of iOS 14 beta 4 is a TV widget on the Home screen, giving users easy access to shows in the Apple TV app. And the Weather widget returns for iPad users, among a handful of other tweaks.

Apple released the public beta Thursday after seeding it to developers earlier this week.

iOS 14 beta 3 brings new World Clock widget, other tweaks

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iOS 14 Developer Beta 3 has a few tricks up its sleeve.
A new World Clock Widget made its debut in iPadOS 14 Developer Beta 3, and the iPhone version too.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Apple continues to add new features to iOS 14 and the iPad equivalent in the third beta, which the company seeded to developers Wednesday. However, the latest betas brought no major changes.

There’s a new World Clock widget. And the Apple Music app returned to the same icon design it had years ago. Other than that, Apple seems to be concentrating on bug fixes.

We talk 14-inch MacBook Pro and a big Apple Maps update, on The CultCast

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CultCast 442: AirPods with health sensors
Can you handle some hot, hot beta action?
Image: The CultCast

This week on The CultCast: We’ve got more details on the 14-inch MacBook Pro, and Apple Maps gets a new feature that blows us away! Plus: We talk our two-week impressions of iOS 14, and a major Hollywood film is coming to Apple TV+.

Our thanks to Squarespace for supporting this episode. Easily create a beautiful website all by yourself, at Squarespace.com/cultcast. Use offer code CultCast at checkout to get 10% off your first purchase of a website or domain.

iOS 14 beta 2 adds Files widget, other tweaks

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iOS 14 beta 2 adds a Files widget.
The new Files widget is the biggest change in iPadOS 14 and iOS 14 beta 2.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Apple seeded the second beta versions of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 exclusively to developers Tuesday. The most notable new feature appears to be a widget for the Files app, giving users access to recently used files directly from the Home screen.

The latest betas bring some small changes as well, of course. Development of these operating systems continues, with full releases expected this autumn.

iOS 13.5 beta simplifies sharing medical ID info with emergency dispatchers

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iOS 13.5 beta 4 makes sharing medical ID a snap.
With iOS 13.5, your iPhone can share medical ID info with emergency dispatchers.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

iPhone and Apple Watch will soon make it easy to share medical ID information during emergency calls. Basic details like allergies and medications can be sent to a dispatcher during the call.

This feature appeared in iOS 13.5 developer beta 4, which debuted on Wednesday.