In a strange series of events, Apple has seemingly been holding back from releasing the first iOS 16.4 Developer Beta. There has been speculation this is tied to reports claiming that Apple has again delayed the unveiling of Virtual Reality headset, as the company could have needed to remove any potential references. Or perhaps, it’s because this is one of the largest “point” releases that we’ve seen in quite some time for the iPhone and iPad. Without further adieu, let’s dive into what’s new with iOS 16.4 Developer Beta 1.
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What’s New in iOS 16.4 Developer Beta 1
Changes To The Podcasts App
The Podcasts app hasn’t seen much attention as of late, but that’s all changing with iOS 16.4 Developer Beta 1. As outlined on the Apple Podcasts for Creators blog, there are some pretty exciting changes in store. The first of which is the ability to view Channels from the Library tab whenever “a listener follows a show that is part of a channel.”
An update to the Up Next queue makes it so that episodes from unfollowed shows will remain in the Up Next queue until it’s manually removed. Additionally, the episode can be removed by finishing it to completion or marking it as played.
In a surprise update for CarPlay, iOS 16.4 also adds the Up Next and Browse sections of the Podcasts app in your car. You’ll be able to “explore new editorially curated podcast recommendations from the Browse tab.” Additionally, when navigating to dedicated show pages, “the latest episodes are conveniently displayed at the top.
New Shortcuts Actions
The Shortcuts app continues to be one of the most exciting additions to the iPhone, iPad, and Mac, and Apple has been consistently releasing updates with new Actions and features. This trend continues with the release of iOS 16.4 Developer Beta 1 as there are more than ten new Actions that have been added. Here’s the list of what you’ll find:
- Silence Unkown Callers
- Set Stage Manager
- Set True Tone
- Set Announce Notifications
- Shut Down
- Lock Screen
- Set Always on Display
- Set VPN
- Set AirDrop Receiving
- Set Night Shift
Push Notifications in Web Apps
As much as we love finding new and exciting apps to download, the reality is that sometimes, a web app just provides a better experience. Progressive Web Apps, or PWAs, have been available for quite a long time, providing quick access to websites that might not have an accompanying app from the App Store. In recent years, we’ve seen a lot of progress made in web apps that can actually look and feel like an app that came straight from the App Store.
However, one limitation with Web Apps on the iPhone and iPad has been the inability for those websites to be able to send notifications. This is likely fine for a majority of apps, but there are some instances where you might want to actually have a website notify you when a new article is published. Thanks to the release of iOS 16.4 Developer Beta 1, web apps downloaded and added to your device from Safari now have the ability to send you push notifications.
“A web app that has been added to the Home Screen can request permission to receive push notifications as long as that request is in response to direct user interaction — such as tapping on a ‘subscribe’ button provided by the web app. iOS or iPadOS will prompt the user to give the web app permission to send notifications. The user can then manage those permissions per web app in Notifications Settings — just like any other app on iPhone and iPad.
The notifications from web apps work exactly like notifications from other apps. They show on the Lock Screen, in Notification Center, and on a paired Apple Watch.”
If you want to learn more about the changes coming to web apps, we highly recommend heading over to the official WebKit website.
Tweaks to Apple Music
These changes weren’t noticed immediately following the release of iOS 16.4 Developer Beta 1, but there are quite a few changes to the interface for Apple Music. Admittedly, you won’t be “shell-shocked” by a completely different interface, but the app has been updated with several UI changes. These include being able to view your profile picture in the Library tab, along with seeing a new card at the bottom of the screen when you add a second to the “Play Next” queue. Unfortunately, those hoping to finally see an implementation of the rumored “Apple Classical” are out of luck, as there is no mention of this being close to a release.
Changes to Developer and Public Beta Installation
For pretty much as long as iOS has been around, there have been ways to jump on new Developer Beta releases without paying for a developer account. However, iOS 16.4 Developer Beta 1 introduces a massive change to this practice, as you will no longer be able to download the necessary Profiles to access Developer Beta releases.
Instead, in order to download and install iOS 16.4 Developer Beta 1 and future releases, you’ll need to have an active Developer account and then can opt into Developer releases from the Settings app. Apple notes that “your iPhone or iPad must be signed in with the same Apple ID you used to enroll in the Apple Developer Program in order to see this option in Settings.”
New Focus Filter For Always-on Display
With the release of iOS 16, Apple expanded on the “Focus Modes” that were previously introduced, adding a new “Focus Filters” feature. One example of how this works is when your “Work” Focus mode is enabled, you’ll only be able to see tabs tied to that Focus mode in Safari. With iOS 16.4, Apple has added the ability to have the Always On Display of your iPhone 14 Pro or iPhone 14 Pro Max turned on or off while in a specific Focus mode.
Support for ‘5G Standalone’
It’s been a few years since Apple brought 5G connectivity to the iPhone with the release of the iPhone 12. And if you thought 5G was fast, there’s a good chance it’s about to get even faster thanks to the implementation of “5G Standalone” for compatible devices. With 5G Standalone enabled on a compatible iPhone connected to T-Mobile, you can reach incredible download speeds of up to 3Gbps. For reference, the 5G connectivity currently available on T-Mobile ranges between 198Mbps and 1.5GBps.
Rich Content Previews for Mastodon Posts
As more and more users in the Apple community move away from Twitter, there has been a massive influx of users to Mastodon, which is an alternative social media platform. However, whenever you tried to send a Mastodon link within the Messages app, it didn’t provide a Rich Preview in the same way that other web links, including those from Twitter, do. There was a workaround using mstdn.link, which was created by Tyler Hillsman, the same developer of several popular iOS apps. But thanks to being “sherlocked” by Apple, there’s no longer a need to use a workaround, provided that you have iOS 16.4 installed.
Smaller Features and Additions to iOS 16.4
iOS 16.4: Up Next items in TV app now have a ••• button that reveals a menu previously only discovered by long press. (••• used to be a download button.) pic.twitter.com/8vJON25Q5h
— Benjamin Mayo (@bzamayo) February 16, 2023
There are a few other changes with iOS 16.4 that really require much of an explanation, so here’s a list of other features and changes you’ll find with iOS 16.4:
- Three new “Order Tracking” Home Screen widgets for the built-in order tracking feature within the Wallet app.
- The “new Home architecture” that was removed from iOS 16.3 is now available with iOS 16.4.
- Apple now makes it possible for you to toggle between manual and automatic software updates for Matter-compatible devices within the Home app.
- Tilt and Azimuth support are now available with the Apple Pencil and the M2 iPad Pro models.
- There is a new Settings panel that provides an overview of the AppleCare+ status for the various devices tied to your Apple ID. This includes those with active AppleCare+ and those even with just a “Limited Warranty.”
- Support for new Unicode 15.0 Emoji, which includes more than 30 new Emoji to pick from and use.
- Autocorrect for the Korean keyboard is enabled by default for testing and feedback.
- Ukrainian keyboard now supports predictive text.
- Gujarati, Punjabi, and Urdu keyboards add support for transliteration layouts.
- New keyboard layouts are available for Choctaw and Chickasaw.
- The Apple TV app now offers a new “…” button for items that are “Up Next” in the queue. The menu that appears is the same one that is currently available when long-pressing Up Next items.
More Changes Could Be On The Way
Whenever Apple releases a new version of iOS, iPadOS, or macOS, there are usually either a bunch of new features, a bunch of bug fixes, or a mish-mash of both. However, there are some instances where references can be found to future features that are not yet available but are likely set to arrive soon.
The first example of this with iOS 16.4 Developer Beta 1 is that Apple is potentially working on a way for users to see how much battery is being consumed by the Always On Display. In code spotted by 9to5Mac, “the company is adding details about the battery consumption of the Always-On feature in the Settings app. This means that users will see a new category specific to the Always-On display in the Battery menu, similar to how it already shows specific categories for things like Personal Hotspot and No Cell Coverage.”
Something else that Apple is working on, according to MacRumors is a “new high-yield savings account option for Apple Card users.” This was initially announced alongside iOS 16 in late 2022, but has not yet been available. According to the code in iOS 16.4 Developer Beta 1, there are “references to routing and account numbers, current balance, interest earned, data management, funds available for withdrawal, and more.”
How to Download and Install iOS 16.4
At the time of this writing, there is no Public Beta of iOS 16.4 available to download. This means that the only way you can download iOS 16.4 is by creating a Developer’s Account through Apple’s Developer page. Creating an account is simple enough, but in order to actually install the necessary profile, you’ll need to come up with the $99 yearly developer fee. This can be paid during the account creation process, and then you’re off to the races.
- Open Safari (or another browser) on your iPhone.
- Navigate to developer.apple.com/download.
- Log in with your developer credentials, usually your Apple ID.
- When prompted, enter the 2FA code, and hit the Trust button to trust the device.
- Under Operating Systems, tap the Install Profile button next to iOS 16.4 beta.
- When prompted, tap Allow to download the configuration profile.
- Tap Close on the Profile Downloaded prompt.
- Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
- At the top of the left sidebar, tap the Profile Downloaded option.
- Tap the Install button in the top right corner.
- When prompted, enter your iPhone’s passcode.
- Tap Install after reading the consent form.
- Confirm that you want to install the beta profile.
- When prompted, tap the Restart button.
- While your iPad is restarting, plug it into a reliable power source.
- Once restarted, make sure that you are connected to a reliable wireless network.
- We recommend connecting to Wi-Fi in order to download iOS 16.4.
- Open the Settings app on your iPad.
- Tap General.
- Select Software Update.
- Tap the Download and Install button.
- When prompted, enter your iPad’s passcode.
- Tap Agree when the Terms & Conditions page appears.
Once the iOS 16.4 Developer Beta 1 software has been downloaded, you’ll go through the traditional steps in order to actually install it onto your iPhone. Just keep in mind that moving forward, Apple is removing the ability to download and rely on profiles in order to access Developer Betas. However, we’ll have to wait and see whether this will also be the case for future iOS Public Beta releases.
Andrew Myrick is a freelance writer based on the East Coast of the US. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is having a never-ending supply of different keyboards and gaming handhelds that end up collecting more dust than the consoles that are being emulated.