Last week Apple released its developer beta of iOS 13.4, the first major iOS point release for 2020, and also the first that seems to be more focused on adding improvements rather than fixing problems from earlier releases.
The new developer beta introduced several interesting new features, only one of which was on the original iOS 13 roadmap, so it’s a welcome change to see that Apple has kicked off the new year by moving forward again with its iOS point releases.
Apple’s developer betas are restricted to only those who are members of Apple’s registered developer program, but ever since the company introduced its public beta program a few years ago, it routinely follows the developer beta releases up with a public beta that’s available for just about anybody to try out.
For major iOS releases, like iOS 13 last June, public betas often don’t come until after the second or third developer beta has already been released. However, for point releases it’s much more common to see them arrive within a day or two, so it was a bit mysterious that we didn’t see a public beta of iOS 13.4 last week, leading some to wonder if one would be coming at all, but the good news is that Apple hasn’t disappointed, and the beta of iOS 13.4 is now available for anybody who wants to give it a whirl.
What’s New in iOS 13.4?
Many public betas for point releases aren’t necessarily worth the hassle of installing — as beta versions, they can potentially introduce new bugs, and the features they offer aren’t usually all that compelling.
In some ways, iOS 13.4 isn’t really all that different, which some of the new features, such as CarKey being more foundational than actually offering anything that you can use right now. Similarly, the addition of support for universal apps on both Mac and iOS is certainly interesting, but it’s also useless until developers start actually packaging their apps that way. Again, a feature that lays a foundation that others will still need to build on.
That said, there are a few interesting new features in here too. Apple has added nine new Memoji/Animoji stickers, and also introduces support for iCloud Folder Sharing — a feature that was supposed to be in iOS 13.0 but was pulled out after numerous testers reported data loss problems. Needless to say, you’ll probably want to be careful with this one.
Other smaller but still interesting tweaks include a redesigned toolbar in Apple’s Mail app that makes it harder to accidentally delete emails by separating out the trashcan button, and some nice tweaks to the CarPlay experience that both improve the dashboard layout and lay the foundation for third-party apps like Google Maps and Waze to now display themselves there.
How to Get iOS 13.4
If you’re already a member of Apple’s Public Beta program, you should just see iOS 13.4 appear in the same way as any other iOS update; just go to Settings, General, Software Update to see it.
If you’re not seeing it, you may need to re-enroll in the program by visiting beta.apple.com, signing in with your Apple ID, and visiting the Enroll your Device page and following the instructions found there.
If you’ve never signed up for the iOS beta program at all, then you can also do so by visiting the Apple Beta Software Program website and clicking the “Sign up” link.
The program is open to anybody, and there’s no cost involved, so if you’re curious to try the next release of iOS, you can easily jump right in.