iOS and iPadOS 13.4: Apple releases the third beta

As we look ahead to iOS 14, Apple's still got plenty of work left to do on iOS 13.

ios13 mockup
Jason Cross/IDG

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Apple still has plenty left in store for iOS 13 before moving on to iOS 14 (which we will likely hear about this summer at WWDC). A week after the release of iOS and iPadOS 13.3.1, it began beta-testing iOS 13.4. This point release brings several welcome new features.

Update 02/26/20: Apple has released the third beta version of iOS 13.4. See instructions below for how to register your device to participate in the public beta.

What’s new in iOS and iPadOS 13.4

We don’t know every little change in the new iOS 13.4 beta—there are no official release notes yet—but here are a few of the things discovered by the Apple community so far.

iCloud folder sharing

Finally, one of the most anticipated features of iOS 13, first promoted at WWDC last summer, is about to be released. With the iOS 13.4, iPadOS 13.4, and macOS 10.15.4 release, users can finally share iCloud folders.

Combined iOS and Mac purchases

Another long-sought-after feature, Apple will finally make it possible for developers to sell iPad and iPhone apps bundled together. The new Xcode 11.4 beta automatically enables “unified purchases” for new Catalyst-based apps, but existing apps can enable the feature, too. 

The change applies to more than just initial purchases, too. In-app purchases can be shared across Mac and iOS versions of an app, if the developer enables unified purchasing.

This change means that Apple is aligning Mac and iOS App Store categories. 

CarPlay features and CarKey

There is evidence that iOS 13.4 and watchOS 6.2 will include a new “CarKey” API that lets car makers build apps that integrate with Wallet, and then let you use your iPhone or Apple Watch as your key to lock, unlock, or start your car (provided your car has NFC key capabilities).

CarPlay is apparently adding new navigation and call controls for third-party apps, but we’ll need to wait for app updates in order to see how they work.

New Memoji stickers

There are nine new types of Memoji stickers.

ios13 4 memoji @reneritchie

New Mail toolbar

The Mail app has a new toolbar, with four common functions: Send to Trash, Move Message, Flag, and Reply. The Reply button opens a panel with a host of common functions like reply, reply all, forward, and archive.

ios13 4 mail toolbar IDG

The new Mail toolbar surfaces more common functions.

OS Recovery

The folks at 9to5Mac have discovered a currently inactive "OS Recovery" feature in iOS 13.4 Beta 3. It would allow iPhone or iPad users to recover the OS with a direct online connection or a connection to another iPhone (similar to the migration tool). This would be a huge step forward, as OS recovery on iPhones currently requires plugging it into a Mac or PC. Macs already have this feature, and it would be a big improvement to see it come to iOS devices.

iPhone SE 2/iPhone 9 support?

If the rumors of a March release for a new lower-cost iPhone (called either the iPhone SE 2 or iPhone 9) are correct, then this would be a good time to start testing an iOS point release with support for the new models. We don’t have any confirmation of whether this is the case or not, but don’t be surprised if data sleuths find references to the new model hidden in the code.

How to get the iOS or iPadOS 13.4 beta

Registered iOS developers can head to developer.apple.com/download on the device to which you want to install the new beta software. From there, you can download and install a profile. 

Make sure the profile is enabled by heading to Settings > General > Profile. Once the profile is installed and your iPhone or iPad is reset, you will receive iOS and iPadOS betas the same way you would regular updates: go to Settings > General > Software Update.

Public beta releases typically follow within 24 hours of the developer beta releases. Non-developers who wish to participate in the beta test can go to beta.apple.com on the device you wish to run the beta on. From there you can download a profile and follow the steps above to activate it and download the latest beta.

As always, it is not recommended that you run an iOS or iPadOS beta on your primary device. Serious problems may occur, and you never know when you’ll have to wipe and restore your device.

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