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iOS 14 public beta is out: Try it on your iPhone at your own risk



Apple unleashed the public beta of iOS 14 on Thursday.


And that means you get to experience early on the new features and functions that not only promise to freshen up your current iPhone, but also serve as the mobile operating system core behind the next crop of Apple flagships that are expected to be announced in September.


Apple outlined many of these iOS 14 features during its (virtual) Worldwide Developers Conference last month. They range from home screen widgets and an app library that can make it faster to access apps and information, to a new Translate app that will allow you to have a conversation of sorts with someone who speaks a different language.


What’s more, if you have with the right car—at the start, 2021 BMW Series 5 models--you’ll also be able to use your phone to unlock that vehicle.


There’s also Apple’s continued emphasis on privacy.


For example, you’ll be warned inside the Safari web browser when you are using a password that’s not secure. An indicator appears on the screen to alert you when an app is using your camera or microphone.


Be careful: During the past several days, I’ve been running the beta for developers, premature for any kind of fair review, and most certainly not the version Apple is making available to the public. The experience so far has been mostly snag-free though I'm not using it on my main phone.


And therein lies the cautionary message: Even though iOS 14 is considered a public beta, think carefully before proceeding.


As with any pre-release software the beta carries risks. Prerelease software is just that, code that isn’t quite finished. So be wary of installing it on a phone you rely on daily.


Some features are not yet fully baked--the aforementioned widgets, for example, require developer adoption. And not all the bugs have been exorcised. Heck, that’s often the case even after software is formally released, which is why even mature programs are constantly updated.


Moreover, there’s no guarantee all the third-party apps you currently use will work on the beta.




Where to go: All that said, if you are tech savvy or have a spare phone to try it on, by all means.


To move forward, head to beta.apple.com, where you can enroll yourself and your device into the company’s beta program. Just make sure to back up your data first. And be aware that iOS 14 is compatible with iPhones dating back to the 6s series and first-generation SE model.


Anything earlier and you're out of luck.