Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
After a couple weeks of developer-only testing, Apple has made available a public beta version of iOS 14, the software that will power iPhones starting this fall.
Why it matters: The early release gives early adopters and developers ample time to find bugs ahead of the full release, as well as a chance to play around with the new features announced in June.
Among the key features of iOS 14:
- The home screen gains support for widgets, small apps that live on the home screen itself. There are also new options for displaying and sorting home screen icons designed to make life easier for those who have lots of apps downloaded, many of which get used only occasionally.
- A new built-in translate app can convert text or voice among any of 11 languages.
- The iPhone now supports picture-in-picture, allowing you to watch a movie while using other apps.
- It also includes new privacy features, such as letting you know whenever the camera or microphone is in use.
Apple also released a test version of the next iPadOS, which is based on iOS14, but with some extra features designed for the tablet's larger screen. Among the new iPad features are:
- support for handwriting recognition when using Apple Pencil;
- a sidebar for more easily finding menu options;
- and enhanced augmented reality capabilities.
Yes, but: The usual caveats apply. Beta software isn't for the faint of heart. Backup before you install the beta and, ideally, run it on something other than your main device.