iOS 11 Public Beta 4 Now Available: How To Install And Should You Download?
Apple has just released its latest iOS 11 software to public beta, just hours after developers’ beta 5 went live. This is public beta 4 – it’s one digit behind because a previous public beta combined two dev releases – and is very largely a bug fix release.
Which, if you’ve signed up for the beta alredy, is very welcome, of course. But there are some little updates worth noting along the way.
First of all, how do you do it?
Check out Anthony Karcz’s masterly installation guide on Forbes for reliable, highly accessible instructions.
The overall process is pretty straightforward and requires you creating a beta account at beta.apple.com but read Anthony’s account for details.
Apple warns that this is not final software and as such it’s best used on a secondary device, not the iPhone you depend on every single day, for instance.
As always, it’s crucial to make sure you have an archive backup of the contents of your phone or tablet before you start, just in case something went calamitously wrong with the beta. Anthony’s guide has instructions for this.
And as he also points out, updating can take time so make sure your battery is fully charged, or fullish.
Oh, and by the way, if you’ve updated to iOS 11 and are now having upgrader’s remorse, don’t worry. Anthony has a great guide to save you so you can go back to iOS 10 again.
On the other hand, if you’ve signed up to any of the earlier betas, it’s painfully simple now: go to Settings, General and Software Update.
So anyway, those changes in Public Beta 4…
First, something that’s been removed is the capability to save your iMessages in Cloud, (iCloud Message syncing). No reason has been given but Apple says it will come back in a future update, perhaps after the launch of iOS 11 in the fall. Apple, presumably, is ensuring it gets the feature right.
Control Center has an improved Music panel with a signal icon fanning out. This pair of lines is animated and if you tap on it, it will show the available sources to which you can stream your music.
Now, I don’t want to complain, but this is exactly what is needed for the adjacent panel which features connectivity options such as Bluetooth and wi-fi.
Currently, a 3D touch on that panel expands it to show Bluetooth, AirDrop, Airplane mode and so on. But touch the wi-fi icon and all you can do is toggle wi-fi on and off.
It would be much better if a 3D-touch on the wi-fi signal fan led you to the available wi-fi sources to choose from them as you can audio sources. It’s a feature Android phones have had for a long time. I’m still hoping further beta updates may address this.
And that’s the point, of course – this is emphatically not final software and one of the great bonuses of testing the public beta is you can feed back what you like, or don’t like, to Apple with the Feedback Assistant app.
Icons have been tweaked – these are tiny changes but if you know what to look for are easy ways to spot which beta version you’re on. The Settings app has been adjusted with a black background behind the cogs instead of the dark grey it had before. The camera app image has been simplified – two horizontal lines above and below the lens are gone. Both are in the image at the top of this post.
Interestingly, the Reminders icon still has the bullet point circles on the right side instead of the left, though when a reminder appears on the lock screen, the circles are back on the left.
Other changes include fewer crashes, we hope, from playing video and FaceTime Live photos – where you can take photos while you’re in a FaceTime call – are now on by default.
One other little feature request, please, Apple: when you swipe down from above the display bezel, the lock screen appears complete with notifications but incomplete, if you ask me, because there’s no search box. You have to swipe right to reach that. Of course, if you’re on the home screen then swiping down from the middle of the display brings up search, but this doesn’t work from within an app.
As always with beta versions, expect battery life to be iffy at times – optimising the battery is something that comes later in beta development.
The beta is available for iPhones from the 5s onwards, all iPad Pro tablets, iPad Air, iPad Air 2, the latest generation iPad and every iPad mini apart from the first one. It also works with the iPod touch 6th generation.
Fall is on its way, and so is the final iOS 11. But this release inches us a little closer and seems low on issues – beta program members should update straight away.
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