For the first time since the Apple Watch was released in 2015, Apple will allow the general public to beta test the latest watchOS operating system over the summer, months ahead of its official release. But for now, Apple is opening the public beta gates to three other operating systems — iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and tvOS 14 — to let iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV users play with their new features, with macOS 11 and watchOS 7 temporarily remaining in the “coming soon” camp.
iOS 14 includes some of the most significant Home screen changes in the history of Apple’s iPhone platform, updating the classic icon grid with the ability to insert semi-customizable widgets that occupy the space of four, eight, or sixteen app icons. The same widgets are also available in iPadOS 14 for Apple’s tablets, but are not as of yet capable of being integrated directly into the icon grid. Both OSes also include significant improvements to the Messages app, refinements to the Safari browser, and additional Maps features including support for bike transportation planning.
tvOS 14 is a comparatively smaller update, focused on Picture in Picture functionality for a wider array of apps, multiuser support for gaming, and HomeKit surveillance camera integration for quick checks outside or inside the house. Apple TV 4K users also gain 4K AirPlay video sharing support from iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 devices, and the ability to play back YouTube videos in 4K.
Also known as Big Sur, macOS 11 includes a major overhaul of the Mac’s Finder, including newly shaded icons, redesigned windows, and a collection of ideas — such as Control Center — borrowed from earlier iOS and iPadOS releases. watchOS 7 adds a new tachometer-based watch face, a hand washing timer, and improvements to the prior Workouts app, now renamed Fitness.
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Author: Jeremy Horwitz.