For the first time since the Apple Watch was released in 2015, Apple will allow the public to test the latest watchOS operating system over the summer, months before its official release. But for now, Apple is opening the public beta ports for three other operating systems – iOS 14, iPadOS 14 and tvOS 14 – to let iPhone, iPad and Apple TV users play with their new features, with macOS 11 and watchOS 7 temporarily remaining in ” coming soon “camp.
IOS 14, discussed in more detail in our hands-on guide, includes some of the most important home screen changes in the history of Apple’s iPhone platform, and updates the classic icon with the ability to insert customizable semi-customizable widgets four, eight or sixteen app icons. The same widgets are also available in iPadOS 1
Both operating systems also include significant improvements to the Messages app, improvements to the Safari browser, and several mapping features, including support for bicycle transport planning. iPads now have more common sidebar access, allowing developers to offer slide lists with multiple app screens instead of simple tab-like buttons, while Apple Pencil users can now use Scribble, an OS-level system with handwriting recognition and far better control over written or drawing input.
tvOS 14 is a relatively minor update, focused on Picture in Picture functionality for a wider range of apps, multi-user support for games, and HomeKit surveillance camera integration for quick controls outside or inside the house. Apple TV 4K users also get support for 4K AirPlay video sharing from iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 devices and the ability to play YouTube videos in 4K.
Also known as Big Sur, macOS 11 includes a major revision of Mac’s Finder, including newly shaded icons, redesigned windows, and a collection of ideas – such as Control Center – borrowed from previous iOS and iPadOS releases. watchOS 7 adds a new tachymeter-based watch face, a time for handwashing and enhancements to the previous Workouts app, now renamed Fitness. It also includes basic sleep tracking functionality, as well as a reminder to charge the depleted clock at some point after you wake up.
The new public betas iOS, iPadOS and tvOS 14 are now available on beta.apple.com for free after registration with Apple. They appear to be based on the same developer beta code released this Monday as “beta 2”, which has been shown to be generally stable, although users may experience issues with iPhone FaceTime calls and message synchronization, among other hiccups. Apps that ran properly on the latest version of Apple’s device-specific operating systems generally work well in the beta, but Mac users may experience non-trivial Safari issues, in addition to finding that certain apps quit immediately instead of loading properly.