iOS 14.6 Hits Its Stride with the Third Developer Beta and These Changes

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Last month, Apple wasted no time at all getting iOS 14.6 into the pipeline, with its first developer beta landing even before iOS 14.5 had been released to the public.

Unfortunately, the first two betas didn’t offer us any real insight into what Apple has planned for its next major iOS point release, however this week Apple unveiled beta 3, and a few interesting changes have now surfaced.

To be fair, the first beta did mark the first appearance of one significant difference — for the first time, developers and public beta testers can choose whether to stick with a public release or jump into the next beta cycle. In the past, testers would need to uninstall the beta provisioning profile if they wanted to avoid getting future beta updates. When iOS 14.6 beta 1 arrived, however, users were given the choice between updating to the release candidate of iOS 14.5 or forging ahead with iOS 14.6.

However, as fascinating as that was, it’s the most recent developer beta, build 18F5065a, that really begins to take the wraps off in terms of what’s coming in iOS 14.6.

‘Lost Mode’ Improvements

Following last month’s AirTag debut, Apple has tweaked Lost Mode in the Find My app to allow users to enter an email address instead of a phone number as a point of contact.

This isn’t an AirTag-specific change, however. Lost Mode isn’t really a new feature in general — it’s been around since Find My iPhone first debuted over ten years ago — but users were always limited to adding a phone number and a short message. The ability to enter an email address provides a useful alternative for those who may want to avoid giving out their phone number for privacy reasons.

It’s also a change that’s somewhat more relevant for items on the Find My network, as opposed to an Apple device like an iPhone, since users may be more cautious about privacy issues when it comes to AirTagged items. Either way, however, it’s an advantage for both.

Note that the email address doesn’t yet appear properly on the webpage for someone who finds an AirTag, so it’s not something we’d recommend you rely on just yet if you’re running the iOS 14.6 beta and happen to lose an AirTag. This will naturally be fixed by the time iOS 14.6 is released, however.

Podcast Tweaks

Apple overhauled its Podcasts app in iOS 14.5, and not all the changes have been particularly well-received by podcast enthusiasts.

While iOS 14.6 doesn’t address all these concerns, it does walk back a couple of the changes, giving us hope that we may see more such tweaks as we move toward the release of iOS 14.6.

For example, iOS 14.5 removed the ability to mark all the episodes of a podcast as played or unplayed. As observed by MacRumors’ Steve Moser, however, iOS 14.6 brings this back. It also adds a new “Remove Downloads” option, as well as adding a “recovery” mode to pull out episodes from pre-iOS 14.5 podcast libraries.

Changes in the design of the Podcasts app in iOS 14.5 made it impossible to access episodes of shows that may have been added to a user’s library, but weren’t part of a subscribed podcast.

It also stands to reason that iOS 14.6 will unlock support for the podcast subscriptions and podcast channels features that Apple announced last month. While the iOS 14.5 design paved the way for these, Apple noted that they weren’t going to be fully in place until May. A new splash screen that pops up when opening Podcasts in iOS 14.6 beta 3 suggests that it will be a necessary update for accessing this new content.

Apple Card Family

While nothing new has been found in iOS 14.6 yet that specifically points to it, it’s very likely it will also add support for Apple Card Family.

Code for this feature has been around since the early iOS 14.5 betas, however when Apple announced it last month, it said it was coming in May via another iOS update. This suggests that, despite some code already being found in iOS 14.5, it’s not quite yet ready to go in that version.

Security Fixes

Based on the timing of this beta and last week’s critical iOS 14.5.1 release, it stands to reason that this third beta of iOS 14.6 includes the necessary fixes for the security vulnerabilities discovered in iOS 14.5.

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