Apple is now on its third round of betas in this current generation of releases, providing developers with new builds of iOS 14.4, iPadOS 14.4, tvOS 14.4, and watchOS 7.3 as release candidates.
The latest builds can be downloaded by developers in the beta-testing scheme via the Apple Developer Center, or as an over-the-air update for hardware already using earlier beta builds. A public beta version of the releases is expected to start arriving soon, and will be available through the Apple Beta Software Program website.
The third set of builds follow after the second builds, which were provided on January 13, while the first builds were released on December 16.
The first builds of iOS 14.4 and iPadOS 14.4 included a change to App Clips that made it launchable with a “local experience” via the Camera, NFC, Safari Smart App Banner, or an iMessage, along with the Code Scanner. There were also some initial indications of Apple pressing onward with its anti-tracking privacy features, U1-based Handoff with the HomePod mini, setting perspective zoom for wallpaper in Shortcuts, and Voiceover Direct Touch.
The second betas included further Handoff improvements for the HomePod mini, and a change to the Find My app that explains new features like support for third-party accessories, improved notifications for friends and family, and the Find My Network itself.
The release notes for iOS 14.4 and iPadOS 14.4 read as follows:
iOS 14.4 includes the following improvements for your iPhone:
- Smaller QR codes can be recognized by Camera
- Option to classify Bluetooth device type in Settings for correct identification of headphones for audio notifications
- Notifications for when the camera on your iPhone is unable to be verified as a new, genuine Apple camera in iPhone 12, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max
This release also fixes the following issues:
- Image artifacts could appear in HDR photos taken with iPhone 12 Pro
- Fitness widget may not display updated Activity data
- Typing may be delayed and word suggestions may not appear in the keyboard
- The keyboard may not come up in the correct language in Messages
- Audio stories from the News app in CarPlay may not resume after being paused for spoken directions or Siri
- Enabling Switch Control in Accessibility may prevent phone calls from being answered from the Lock Screen
The release notes for watchOS 7.3 read as follows:
watchOS 7.3 includes new features, improvements, and bug fixes, including:
- Unity watch face— inspired by the colors of the Pan-African Flag, the shapes change throughout the day as you move creating a face that’s unique to you
- Time to Walk for Apple Fitness+ subscribers— an audio experience in the Workout app where guests share inspiring stories as you walk
- ECG app on Apple Watch Series 4 or later in Japan, Mayotte, Philippines, and Thailand
- Irregular heart rhythm notifications in Japan, Mayotte, Philippines, Taiwan, and Thailand
- Fix for an issue where Control Center and Notification Center may be unresponsive when Zoom is enabled
Both AppleInsider and Apple itself strongly recommend users don’t install the betas on to “mission-critical” or primary devices, as there is the remote possibility of data loss or other issues. Instead, testers should install betas onto secondary or non-essential devices, and to make sure there are sufficient backups of important data before updating.