Apple Releases Sixth Betas of iOS, OS X, WatchOS

Posted by at 10:19 am on March 8, 2016

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On Monday, Apple updated its various OS platforms to a sixth developer beta for most of its respective systems, with public-tester betas of OS X 10.11.4 and iOS 9.3 also seeded simultaneously. As usual, Apple has not listed any notable changes from the previous beta, though small updates, tweaks and other changes are usually reported by developers over the first few days in the process of testing. While small “fit and finish” issues are often the most notable changes, the focus of all the betas is concentrated on fixing bugs.

The iOS 9.3 beta, now at build number 13E5231a, comes just less than a week after the fifth beta, and is likewise available through over-the-air updates for developers or pre-registered public beta tester accounts, or via the Apple Developer Center for developers. The overall iOS 9.3 update, when released, will bring users the color-shifting sleep and eye fatigue aid Night Shift, as well as the ability to add secure notes in the Notes app, which can be unlocked with a passcode or Touch ID.

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Also improved is the 3D Touch feature, now augmented with more Quick Actions. In last week’s previous beta, the navigation capabilities of the Apple Pencil on the iPad Pro — a feature removed during the betas for iOS 9.3 — were returned, with improvements. When using the forthcoming watchOS 2.2 update, users on iOS 9.3 will be able to pair multiple Apple Watches to a single device, and there are other improvements for iBooks on iOS (now able to support PDFs through iCloud), CarPlay (new Maps and Apple Music features), Apple News (a landscape view and support for embedded videos), and Verizon customers will see support for Wi-Fi calling.

There is also a new educational enhancement for teachers and administrators using iPads and iTunes U in classrooms, and the Health app will include a new “Activity” view based on the design seen on the Apple Watch. Speculation has the updates for all four of Apple’s platforms being released around mid-March, in line with an alleged iPad and “iPhone SE” event, that is also said to include some new Apple Watch accessories and possible partnerships.

The OS X beta, now at build 15E61b, continues to improve on new features seen in earlier betas, including the ability of the Notes app to import from text files (plain and rich) and Evernote or other note-taking services. The update also further enhances the ability to share Live Photos to social media and through the Messages app, along with the secure Notes ability seen in the iOS 9.3 beta. Likewise, Photos has been updated to support social sharing and display of Live Photos.

Release notes for the new update specifically ask developers to test bug fixes in iBooks, Messages, Notes, and Photos. In addition, testers have reported some notable changes in Safari, including a fix for broken Twitter links. The watchOS 2.2 update (now numbered 13V5143a) has previously added an all-new Apple Maps view and Glance, along with enhanced information from Yelp, and the ability to set destination targets like “work” or “home” that can be instantly navigated to. As mentioned above, watchOS will gain the ability to manage multiple Watches tied to a single iPhone, a boon for developers as much as those owning more than one Apple Watch.

The watchOS betas, as with tvOS betas, are developer-only.

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