[Update: iOS 13 public beta 4 is now available to public beta testers.]
Now that iOS 12.4 has been released and the Apple Card is coming very soon, Apple is no doubt doubling down its iOS development efforts on the much bigger iOS 13, and it’s inching it closer to its expected September release with this week’s arrival of the fifth developer beta.
At this point, the latest beta is only available to registered developers — a public beta will undoubtedly follow and could arrive as soon as today — and while it’s accompanied by a tvOS 13 beta as well, there have not been any new watchOS 6 or macOS Catalina betas appear as of yet.
Although Apple’s smaller point releases, like iOS 12.4, often only have three or four betas at the most, Apple’s major iOS updates often run into the double-digits — iOS 12 had 11 developer betas last year before its final release — so this means that we’re approaching the halfway point in the cycle. Based on prior years, Apple is also likely to ramp up the frequency of betas into the month of August, when we’ll probably see new betas coming out each week focused on bug fixes, improvements, and generally polishing rather than slipping in even minor new features.
So What’s New?
There’s a lot of stuff coming in iOS 13 — and we do mean a lot — but most of it has already made its appearance in the first few betas. While its safe to assume that there’s not going to be much more new stuff appearing now that we’re moving into the home stretch, there are still a few nice little surprises showing up in this latest beta.
iPad Home Screen
For years, Apple’s iPhones and iPads all ran the same operating system — iOS. This year, however, Apple has realized that it’s really high time that it gave the iPad’s version of the operating system its own distinct identity, and hence “iPadOS” was born. To be fair, the two really still appear to mostly share a common codebase, so it sounds like it’s more of a marketing name than anything else, but either way, the iPad experience is starting to diverge from the iPhone experience in some positive ways.
One of these ways is the departure from the traditional monolithic home screen. The iPad always had a slightly different home screen layout — for one thing, for many years it was the only device that could go into landscape mode at the home screen — but it’s still largely been a collection of evenly-spaced static icons. With iPadOS 13, that begins to change, with the ability to keep the “today” screen docked on the left of the home screen along with more compact icon spacing, and now with the fifth beta of iPadOS 13, you can actually adjust the icon density, providing choices between a 4×5 grid or a 6×5 grid of icons, depending on how much you want to fit on the screen.
The Apple Watch has been around for a while now — long enough that there are probably some active users who have already left their daily move goals in the dust, so Apple is raising the bar to reward higher levels of achievement.
Previously, you could get rewards for hitting 365 daily move goals, 500 daily move goals, and 1000 daily move goals. If you’re an active user who has owned the Apple Watch since it was released in 2015, chances are that you easily hit the 1000 mark sometime last year, and now have nothing more to strive for. So with iOS 13, Apple’s is going to provide new achievements for hitting your move goal for 1250, 1500, and 1750 days. It’s unclear right now, however, whether users will get retroactive credit here, but we certainly hope so.
There’s now haptic feedback on the new iOS 13 volume slider, and those users who want to connect a mouse to their iPad will appreciate the ability to make the cursor smaller. The Home app also gets some new wallpapers for the first time since it was introduced in iOS 10, which should be a refreshing change for home automation enthusiasts who are tired of looking at the same old boring red leaves background (although of course you’ve always been able to set your own as well, it’s sometimes hard to find something that looks nice behind all of your home icons).
Apple is also still tweaking the new and improved iOS Share Sheet, and the fifth beta now appears to group actions that are related to specific apps or classes of apps.
There’s also a new “Siri for Everyone” setup screen; although it’s non-functional without a HomePod that’s also running iOS 13, it provides another glance at how HomePod’s new personalized voice recognition will work.
Registered developers should already be seeing the latest beta as an over-the-air update, and once a public beta appears — likely this week — those registered in the public beta program should see it automatically appear as well, and if you’re not already registered for the public beta program, now might be a good time to jump on board.