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The "Screen Time" feature of iOS 12. Screenshot: Apple.com

Apple just released a public beta version of iOS 12, the next version of the iPhone operating system due out this fall.

Why it matters: Apple’s software update provides a strong sense of where the iPhone is going. While you can’t buy a new iPhone until the fall, you can make yours new with a free software update.

Key features:

  • Improved parental controls and the ability for adults to better manage their own screen time
  • new tools for augmented reality
  • group FaceTime video chats with up to 32 people
  • "memoji" that let you create your own avatar that can be used in video messages and FaceTime
  • improved performance

What is and isn't in the beta: Memoji and the Screen Time tools are there, while the shortcuts app is not. Some features, like ARKit 2.0 require developers to build their own apps using the features. So expect those features to show up this fall.

Important caveat: This is beta software, so there are bound to be bugs. Apple advises people not to use this on their main device.

Go deeper: We'll have more on this in upcoming issues of Login, Axios' daily tech newsletter. (You can sign up here.)

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

Venezuela's predictable elections herald an uncertain future

The watchful eyes of Hugo Chávez on an election poster in Caracas. Photo: Cristian Hernandez/AFP via Getty

Venezuelans will go to the polls on Sunday, Nicolás Maduro will complete his takeover of the last opposition-held body, and much of the world will refuse to recognize the results.

The big picture: The U.S. and dozens of other countries have backed an opposition boycott of the National Assembly elections on the grounds that — given Maduro's tactics (like tying jobs and welfare benefits to voting), track record, and control of the National Electoral Council — they will be neither free nor fair.

Biden plans to ask public to wear masks for first 100 days in office

Joe Biden. Photo: Mark Makela/Gettu Images

President-elect Joe Biden told CNN on Thursday that he plans to ask the American public to wear face masks for the first 100 days of his presidency.

The big picture: Biden also stated he has asked NIAID director Anthony Fauci to stay on in his current role, serve as a chief medical adviser and be part of his COVID-19 response team when he takes office early next year.