Apple’s latest beta versions of its iOS, OS X El Capitan, watchOS and tvOS operating systems debuted Jan. 11 for developers and users to download, test out and explore on their Apple devices.
The latest betas, which are available for immediate download, include iOS 9.3, OS X 10.11.4, watchOS 2.2 and tvOS 9.2, as well as a new beta version of the Xcode 7.3 programming environment. iOS is Apple’s operating system for mobile devices, OS X is the OS for desktop machines, watchOS is the operating environment for Apple Watches, and tvOS is the OS for Apple TV.
In a preview Webpage about iOS 9.3, Apple outlines its new additions, including major enhancements for education users, updates to CarPlay, improved security features for Notes, more personalized News updates, more health apps and more.
For education users, one of the key changes in iOS 9.3 is in the inclusion of new features and apps that aim to provide more engaging ways of learning and easier deployment of devices to students who need them, according to Apple. The changes mean that a student can log in to any iPad in any classroom and make it his or her own, while teachers will have access to a new classroom app that will make it easier for them to guide students through a lesson, see their progress and keep them on track.
School administrators will get an Apple School manager portal where they can do everything from create Apple IDs to purchase apps to prepare devices for mobile device management and more. New managed Apple IDs will make it easier for schools to manage their Apple IDs for their users.
iOS 9.3 also includes new Shared iPad sharing capabilities that make it easier for multiple students to use the same iPad while keeping their own settings, preferences and content, according to Apple. With Shared iPad, students can log in to any iPad and their content is ready to go. The devices will use intelligent caching so that when students log in they don’t have to wait for everything to download—it’s already there, according to Apple.
Also new is a Photo ID feature that makes it easier for multiple users to find the iPad they had used previously by spotting their photograph on the device.
The CarPlay capabilities in iOS 9.3 also got updates, such as the New and For You from Apple Music feature, which introduces users to songs, artists and albums handpicked by experts, plus selections based on a user’s preferences, right on the screen of their devices. A new Nearby feature in Maps helps users find gas, parking, restaurants, coffee and more when needed.
The Notes app in iOS 9.3 is getting several security enhancements, including the ability to secure your notes with a password or fingerprint to protect your most sensitive personal data such as financial details, medical information and Website log-ins.
The News app in iOS 9.3 can now be customized more easily to a user’s preferences through the creation of a new Favorites list, as well as suggested trending topics and suggested Editors’ Picks. Also new is a capability to play a video right from the feed, as well as the ability to view the news in landscape mode on an iPhone.
Third-party health apps are easier to find under iOS 9.3 due to improvements in the slider menu that’s used to select apps. The improved slider menus in categories such as Weight, Workouts and Sleep now let users easily add the apps to their device’s health dashboard, according to Apple. The health app also now displays a user’s movement, exercise and standing data, as well as their goals, which is collected from their Apple Watch.
A Night Shift capability automatically changes a device’s bright blue display light into warmer colors at night to make it easier on a user’s eyes, while also minimizing disruptions to their sleep due to the blue light.
Apple users should be cautious about installing beta versions of the operating systems on their devices because they are still potentially buggy and can cause operational issues. It is typically recommended to only install beta versions on non-production devices.