Apple's software continues its relentless march through the beta testing programs and now we have the third betas of iOS 16.4, iPadOS 16.4, macOS Ventura 13.3, watchOS 9.4, and tvOS 16.4 available for download.
Developers can download the new betas now, and they can expect a few changes in this release when compared to the second round of betas.
Let's get into it.
Changes to how betas work
The main change in iOS 16.4 and iPadOS 16.4 is the way that Apple is tweaking the handling of developer betas. We can expect these changes to also work for those who are on the public beta program as well.
Currently, installing a beta requires that the iPhone or iPad have the correct developer or public beta profile installed. But those profiles can be downloaded from third-party sources, and Apple wants more control over who has access to its software.
With that in mind, Apple is removing profiles as a kind of authentication and will soon require that people sign in with their Apple ID instead. This beta includes a provision for signing into a different Apple ID to the one that the iPhone or iPad is using for iCloud and other services, which is a big deal.
iOS 16.4 Beta 3 now shows you in software update if your Apple ID is registered as a developer. #iOS164Beta3 pic.twitter.com/KNzdCOKFFRMarch 7, 2023
Without that provision people would have to sign in with the same Apple ID across all services. That would be problematic for people who use their personal iPhone, with their own Apple ID, but also install developer betas through work. With iOS 16.4 beta 3, they can sign in with a work Apple ID as well.
Rapid Security Response improvements
Apple continues to work on its Rapid Security Response (RSR) system. RSR is designed to help Apple provide important security updates without releasing a whole new build of iOS, for example. The feature is also available on iPad and Mac.
With beta 3, MacRumors notes that new text has been added that details which apps might be impacted by the security update. "Some apps may be closing unexpectedly due to incompatibility with the latest iOS rapid security response. Removing the security response may fix this," Apple's wording warns.
Apple also continues to release test RSR updates for download as well.
NFC Car Key support could be going away
It appears that Apple is getting ready to remove support for NFC-based Car Keys, according to one report.
Code found in iOS 16.4 beta 3 by 9to5Mac shows that Apple is dropping NFC support, meaning only devices with Ultra Wideband (UWB) technology will be able to lock, unlock, and start cars in the future.
That means that you'll need an iPhone 11 or newer or an Apple Watch Series 6 or newer once NFC support has been removed.
Changes in previous betas
Apple has already made some tweaks in the previous betas, including bringing the much-loved animated page turns back to Apple Books.
Other improvements already available in earlier betas include support for notifications from web apps, new Unicode 15.0 emoji, and the return of the updated Home app architecture after it was pulled from iOS 16.2.
Users in South Korea can also look forward to Apple Pay support, while more hints at Apple Music Classical were found in iOS 16.4 code by MacRumors.
There's no word yet on when these releases will roll out to everyone, but it's likely to be a few weeks before you can install iOS 16.4 on your own iPhone 14, for example. Note that the updates will also be available for all devices that supported iOS 16, iPadOS 16, watchOS 9, tvOS 16, and macOS Ventura — you won't need to rush out to buy Apple's best iPhone just to use iOS 16.4, thankfully.
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Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.
Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.