Updated

After the COVID-19 focused 13.5 release, this update may pave the way for future devices and features.

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In addition to releasing important security updates for all its operating systems on June 1, Apple released the first beta of iOS and iPadOS 13.5.5. A week later, the second beta was released, along with a new version number—it has now been updated to iOS and iPadOS 13.6, signifying more significant new features.

Update 06/09/20: Beta 2 is now released, and the version number has been updated from 13.5.5 to 13.6.

What’s new in iOS 13.6

The beta was released with no release notes, even on Apple’s developer site. That typically means that the release either focuses on bug fixes and performance, or that it incorporates code for testing unannounced features or products.

Audio News+

The sleuths at MacRumors found some references within iOS 13.5.5 for a new feature within Apple News: the ability to listen to audio versions of some news stories for Apple News+ subscribers.

Future hardware?

If Apple intends to announce new products (like AirPods Studio or AirTags) at WWDC, it may be that iOS 13.5.5 is intended to add support for them. Or, at least, to lay all the groundwork necessary for more widespread testing. Since iOS 14 will not be released until this fall, any new products Apple intends to ship before then need to be supported in an iOS 13 update.

How to get the iOS 13.5.5 beta

Registered developers can go to developer.apple.com/download using the device upon which they wish to run the iOS or iPadOS beta. Download the beta profile, then open Settings > General > Profile and activate it.

If you’re not a registered developer and want to take part in the beta test, go to beta.apple.com using the device upon which you wish to run the beta. Tap on “Sign up” and then follow the instructions to download the beta profile. Go to Settings > General > Profile to activate it. Then update your device as usual: go to Settings > General > Software Updates.  The public beta is usually released within a day of the developer beta.

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Jason has written professionally about technology for over 20 years. His goal is to figure out how complicated technology works and explain it in a way anyone can understand.