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iOS 14.6: Apple's beta adds a significant tool for developers

The first beta of iOS 14.6 for the iPhone is available to developers and public beta testers.

iOS 14.6 beta for iPhone
Even before iOS 14.5 was out the door, Apple already moved on to the next update.
Patrick Holland/CNET

After months of beta testing, Apple released iOS 14.5 on Monday. The updated iPhone software includes a slew of new features like a setting to turn off ad tracking within apps, the ability to unlock your phone even if you're wearing a face mask, support for AirTags, new emoji and new Siri voices. But even before iOS 14.5 was released, Apple started testing iOS 14.6 with developers and in public beta.

iOS 14.6 includes a tool that lets app developers and public beta testers upgrade to an iOS release candidate without removing their developer or beta profile. For example, 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 that presents the option.

iOS 14.6 beta for iPhone

At the bottom of the Software Update screen in a new section called Also Available that lets developers choose to upgrade to a release candidate version of iOS or a beta version.

Patrick Holland/CNET

The first beta of iOS 14.6 came out April 23 and is focused on bug fixes and improvements. Aside from the convenient new software update tool, there weren't any other features announced. Apple could add new features to iOS 14.6 in future beta versions or keep the update focused on improving iOS 14 under the hood.

The release of the iOS 14.6 beta comes less than two months before Apple's annual developer conference, WWDC, which will be held virtually in June. Apple is expected to announce new versions of its operating systems, including MacOS, WatchOS and iPadOS. It is likely that iOS 15 will be announced and that it could be available to download as a public beta later in this summer (it was in early July for iOS 14).

For more about iOS 14.6, here's everything we know about Apple's upcoming operating system.

Now playing: Watch this: What's new in iOS 14.5?