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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.

Go deeper: Apple announces iOS 14, shift to homegrown chips for the Mac

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
Updated Oct 13, 2020 - Technology

Apple debuts 5G-capable iPhone 12, cheaper HomePod

Photo: Apple

Apple introduced a lineup of new iPhone models Tuesday, all with 5G support, as well as a smaller, cheaper version of its HomePod speaker

Why it matters: Apple's events may not be as drama-packed as they once were, but the iPhone remains the most important product in Apple's lineup and a bellwether for the broader industry.

White House says it expects federal contractors to be vaccinated by Dec. 8

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The White House said in new guidance Friday that it expects millions of federal contractors to be vaccinated against the coronavirus no later than Dec. 8.

Why it matters: Companies with federal contractors have been waiting for formal guidance from the White House before requiring those employees to get vaccinated, according to Reuters.

CDC director maintains Pfizer booster recommendation for high-risk workers

Rochelle Walensky listens during a confirmation hearing on July 20. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky on Friday reiterated her decision to go against a recommendation by a CDC advisory panel that refused to endorse booster shots for workers whose jobs put them at high risk for contracting COVID-19.

Driving the news: "Our healthcare systems are once again at maximum capacity in parts of the country, our teachers are facing uncertainty as they walk into the classroom," Walensky said at a Friday briefing. "I must do what I can to preserve the health across our nation."

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