Apple started testing iOS 14.6 before the big iOS 14.5 release even went out to the general public. With iOS 15 expected to begin testing at WWDC in June, many users thought iOS 14.5 would be the last release in the iOS 14 branch. It appears that Apple is not quite done iterating, and so we’ll get iOS 14.6 as well.
Update 05/17/21: The fourth and final developer beta release of iOS 14.6, iPadOS 14.6, and associated releases have arrived.
What’s new in iOS 14.6
Hours after announcing Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos and Lossless Audio for Apple Music on Monday, the release candidate for iOS 14.5 landed bringing support for those features. It also adds the ability to enter an email address instead of a phone number for a lost AirTag as well as support for the new Apple Card features introduced at the Spring Loaded event.
There’s also a slight change to allow beta testers on a final release the ability to easily stay on it or move to the next beta without re-downloading profiles, but no significant user-facing changes that will impact everyone. It’s possible this release, and its associated Apple OS releases, are mostly about supporting the new hardware due for release in late May, and the service features Apple announced like Podcast Subscriptions and Apple Card Family.
Macrumors contributor Steve Moser also found several Podcasts app tweaks following its recent redesign. Among the small changes are new “Mark all as played” and “Remove downloads” options. Moser all says users will likely be able to access their previous library from before iOS 14.5, which brought the new design.
We’ll update this article as new features are found.
How to get the iOS 14.6 beta
If you’re feeling brave, you can try out iOS 14.6 before its general release. Apple suggests you do not run the beta on any critical device, and that’s good advice—you never know what can go wrong.
Developers can go head to developer.apple.com/download on the device upon which they which to run the beta, and download a developer beta profile. Those who aren’t developers can join the public beta by heading to beta.apple.com using the device upon which you wish to run the beta, signing in, and downloading the beta profile.
Once you have the profile you must enable it by going to Settings > General > Profile. Your device will reset to enable the profile. After it has reset with the profile enabled, you can head to Settings > General > Software Updates to download the latest beta release.
If you’re already on the release candidate version of iOS 14.5, you’ll see the 14.6 update listed under a new “Also Available” section in Software Updates. This allows you to either stay on the iOS 14.5 release candidate or jump on the new beta.
When will iOS 14.6 release?
Apple has just begun testing iOS 14.6, and it’s too early to predict its release date. The latest that Apple has ever released a major iOS point-release was iOS 13.6 on July 15, 2020. (iOS 13.7, released last September, was a special case that only added the COVID-19 contact tracing feature.) Releases this late in the year are typically minor bug fix releases that don’t advance the version number. For example: iOS 14.5.1. This is only the second time Apple has ever gone to a .6 release, and it’s awfully late in the yearly release cycle.
I have written professionally about technology for my entire adult professional life – over 20 years. I like to figure out how complicated technology works and explain it in a way anyone can understand.