With all of the cool new features coming to iOS 14 this fall its easy to forget that Apple hasn’t abandoned its ongoing work on iOS 13 just yet, and in fact we can expect another major point release to arrive quite possibly before we even see the first iOS 14 public betas land later this month.
This week Apple released the third beta iOS 13.6, which will likely be the final release in the iOS 13 stream, but also one that introduces a few interesting new features that go beyond mere bug-fixes.
To be clear, even though iOS 14 is already in the works, there’s lots of precedent for Apple doing this. In fact, just last year, iOS 12.4 came out in late July, long after iOS 13 was already in public beta, in order to introduce support for the Apple Card, and back in 2015, Apple also famously released iOS 8.4 in order to debut Apple Music, only weeks after it had already unveiled iOS 9 at its June WWDC.
What’s Coming in iOS 13.6
Although of course all of the really cool stuff will be in iOS 14 when it arrives later this fall, that doesn’t mean that iOS 13.6 isn’t going to offer a few tidbits to tide us over in the meantime.
Most significantly, it looks like Apple is already adding the Car Key feature in iOS 13.6, so users who are ready to jump on a new BMW as soon as they arrive on lots this summer won’t have to wait for iOS 14 to take advantage of the new feature.
Even though Apple announced Car Key as part of iOS 14, it makes sense that it would want the feature to be available for new cars as soon as possible, although this first generation of the technology may be limited to NFC; it looks like Apple is laying the groundwork in iOS 14 to do even more with it in the future, including adding Ultra Wideband support with its U1 chip so that users will be able to unlock future car models without even needing to take their iPhone out of their pocket or purse.
iOS 13.6 will also include support for Apple News+ Audio, a feature that will allow participating News+ publications to share audio snippets of stories and articles. This first made its appearance when this new iOS version was still being dubbed “13.5.5”; Apple renamed it to iOS 13.6 in the second beta.
It’s actually been a pretty busy year for iOS 13 already, with Apple releasing iOS 13.5 less than two months ago to introduce support for its new Apple and Google Exposure Notification API to help fight COVID-19, followed by a minor sub-point release of iOS 13.5.1 only a month ago to patch a serious jailbreak vulnerability.
In fact, iOS 13.5 has already broken the record for the most point releases to ever hit a single major iOS version, a record that was previously broken by iOS 8.4 and then later tied by iOS 11.4 and iOS 12.4. However, barring any bug fixes, iOS 13.6 will likely be the last release in the iOS 13 cycle, and almost certainly the last major point release.
It’s still anybody’s guess when we’ll actually see a public release of iOS 13.6, however, but with BMW’s new car models officially arriving in dealerships this month, including the 5-series that Apple demonstrated the Car Key feature with, we’re betting it will be sooner rather than later.