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iOS 14.6: Release date and all the rumors we've heard about new features

Apple's iOS 14.5 is still new, but we're already looking ahead to the buzzy features we've found in the iOS 14.6 beta, and some rumored additions. Plus, here's how to download the public beta now.

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iOS 14 will get some new features in its upcoming release.

James Martin/CNET

Apple's big iOS 14.5 update arrived earlier this month, bringing lots of new features like the ability to unlock your iPhone with Face ID while wearing a mask, stop apps from tracking you for advertising purposes and choose from four different Siri voices. (Here's how to download iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 now.) But that's not stopping us from looking ahead to Apple's next operating system update, iOS 14.6.

iOS 14.6 appears to be a far smaller update than 14.5, but will still bring some useful new features, including another way to locate lost AirTags trackers and high-fidelity Apple Music support, as well as bug fixes. If you just can't wait for the general release, you can download iOS 14.6 as a public beta now -- we'll tell you how below. 

Here's what we know about iOS 14.6 so far. We've also collected all of the rumors about the upcoming iOS 15 update

Read more: iOS 14's best new iPhone features

Now playing: Watch this: What's new in iOS 14.5?
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When will iOS 14.6 be released?

iOS 14 was first launched in September, ahead of the release of the iPhone 12. New versions of Apple's mobile operating system typically arrive once a month with new features and bug fixes. However, iOS 14.5 was a larger update than usual, and took about three months to arrive. 

The latest version of Apple's operating system, iOS 14.6, is now available as a public beta. That means you can download it, but it may contain some bugs, as Apple is still working on it before its final release. We don't recommend downloading any beta on the device you use regularly. 

Apple doesn't publicly announce when it will release a new version of iOS, but we can follow some clues. Since the public beta became available on April 23, and releases come out roughly once a month, we expect to see the final version of iOS 14.6 sometime in May, especially since this is likely to be a smaller update. Plus, we're expecting Apple to unveil iOS 15 at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June. 

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You can download iOS 14.6 as a public beta now.

Patrick Holland/CNET

How do I download the iOS 14.6 public beta? 

If you do want to download the iOS 14.6 public beta and try out some of the new features (again, we'd recommend doing so on a device you don't typically use, since there could be bugs), you first have to sign up for Apple's Beta Software Program. To do that, go to beta.apple.com/sp/betaprogram, and click Sign Up. You'll have to enter your Apple ID and password, and agree to the terms and conditions. Tap iOS, and under Get Started, click Enroll your Apple device. From there you'll find more instructions on how to do so. 

Once you're part of the program, you can go to Settings > Software Update, and when you see iOS 14.6 Public Beta, hit Download and Install

How can I download iOS 14.6 once it's generally available?

When it's released, you should get a prompt telling you that iOS 14.6 is now available and asking if you'd like to download it. Or you can do the following: 

1. Open the Settings app.

2. Select General.

3. Tap Software Update

Your device will connect to Apple's servers and prompt you to download and install the update. Follow the prompts to complete the installation. When your device reboots, it will be running iOS 14.6. (Check out our full instructions on preparing your phone and downloading iOS 14 here.)

What devices will iOS 14.6 work on?

iOS 14.6 will be compatible with all the same devices as iOS 14. Generally, these include the iPhone 6S ($250 at Best Buy) all the way up through the iPhone 12, along with the iPhone SE ($85 at Back Market) and the seventh-gen iPod Touch ($125 at Back Market). For the full list of devices compatible with iOS 14, click here

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You'll be able to download iOS 14.6 on the iPhone 6S through the iPhone 12, pictured here.

Sarah Tew/CNET

What new features will iOS 14.6 include?

We're slowly finding out more about what new features iOS 14.6 will bring. Again, since iOS 14.5 was a larger update with a lot of new features, it's likely that this one will be smaller, and more focused on under-the-hood changes. The beta download page says that it "contains bug fixes and improvements." 

Here are a couple of new features we've seen in the iOS 14.6 beta, along with some rumors about what the new OS could include.

Add a contact email when your AirTag is in Lost Mode

If you've bought one of Apple's new AirTag tracker devices (here's how to set up your AirTags), you may know that if you lose the item the AirTag is attached to, you can put the tag in Lost Mode and get a notification when it's within range of the Find My network. If someone else finds your AirTag, they can use an iPhone or NFC-capable device to view your contact number and get in touch with you. The latest version of the iOS 14.6 beta adds the ability to enter a contact email instead of a phone number. 

Better beta tools

The beta versions of iOS 14.6 include a tool that lets app developers and public beta testers upgrade to an iOS release candidate without removing their developer or beta profile. Before iOS 14.5 went live to the public, developers could choose between upgrading their device to the iOS 14.5 release candidate or to the beta version of iOS 14.6. Under the Software Update menu in Settings, there's a new Also Available section where you can find this option.

Hi-fi support for Apple Music

On May 17, Apple said that in June, it would add support for high-quality, lossless and spatial audio to Apple Music through Dolby Atmos at no additional cost. However, Apple did not specify if this release would be part of iOS 14.6, or arrive sooner or later.  

High-fidelity streaming could help Apple Music compete with Spotify, which in February said it was adding a high-fidelity tier sometime this year.

We'll update this story once we learn more. 

For more, check out how to download iOS 14.5, and some of the best hidden iPhone features we've found in iOS 14. And before you make any OS updates, make sure your iPhone and iPad are ready to do so