iOS 13, iPadOS, macOS Catalina, and tvOS 13 are available in public beta, and you can download and install them now. The process for installing each is a bit different, but we’ll walk through what’s new and how to get the new software on your device.

The Red Tea Detox

Unless you’re enrolled in Apple’s developer program, this is your first opportunity to try out the new software in beta. These betas will update periodically, culminating in the final release, which we expect at the end of summer. It’ll likely be timed around the new hardware announcements made at Apple’s annual September event.

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First, the usual word of warning about beta software: these releases may seem stable, but they could contain bugs that won’t be squashed until the final releases roll out later in 2019. So unless you don’t mind rolling the dice with app compatibility and other issues that could impact battery life and other critical functions, perhaps it’s best to wait, difficult as that may be.

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We’ve included some issues that we’ve encountered during our time with each of the public betas. Your experience may differ, but if you do decide to install, make sure to back up your data first.

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What to know about macOS Catalina before installing the beta

Of the several new features coming to macOS Catalina, Catalyst has received the most buzz. Codenamed “Marzipan,” Catalyst allows iPad developers to port their apps over to macOS. Twitter was one of the first companies to announce that it’s utilizing the feature to bring its app back to the Mac.

If you own an iPad that runs the iPadOS software (see below), Catalina’s new Sidecar feature (pictured in the lead image above) will let you wirelessly connect the iPad to your Mac as a secondary display, complete with touch support. Apps that are confirmed to work in Sidecar mode currently include Final Cut Pro X, Adobe Illustrator, and iWork, though you can just use the iPad as an extension of your desktop if you wish.

Another important feature is Voice Control, an accessibility feature that allows people to navigate through macOS Catalina with voice dictation, eliminating the need for physical switches and triggers that mimic mouse and keyboard actions.

Apple is also ditching iTunes (RIP) in favor of three distinct apps: Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, and Apple TV. Apple Music retains much of what you might remember from iTunes, including access to all of your purchased content. The Podcasts app allows for local indexing support, which makes it possible to search for specific topics discussed in a podcast as well as guests, hosts, and more. The Apple TV app supports 4K HDR playback with HDR 10, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos.

Issues we’ve encountered so far

Repeatedly connecting an iPad via Sidecar can bring up issues that require a reboot. Some users are reporting stability issue with Final Cut Pro X.

How to install the macOS Catalina beta

  • Head to Apple’s beta software portal
  • Click “Enroll Your Devices” at the top right corner of the webpage
  • Click “macOS,” the left-most option on the next page. This will reveal a reminder to make sure you have a Time Machine backup before proceeding.
  • Scroll down until you find a button that says “Download the macOS Public Beta Access Utility.” If you haven’t yet enrolled your Mac in the Beta Program, then click on it to download a .DMG file, which will enroll your computer. Otherwise, you can skip this step.
  • Lastly, head to “Software Update” from the System Preferences app to install the beta. It might not be available to you immediately. You’ll receive a notification once it is.

What to know about iOS 13 before installing the beta

iOS 13 aims to bring performance improvements to all iPhones, especially to older ones that were slowed down by past software updates. A few of Apple’s claims include a 30 percent speed increase for Face ID unlocks and apps that launch twice as fast as they did in iOS 12.

One of the most anticipated changes to iOS 13 is its new system-wide dark mode, which will help to preserve battery life in the iPhone X and iPhone XS phones that have an OLED screen. Battery efficiency aside, it just looks cool. Apple says that its own first-party apps will support it, as will the app dock and notifications.

As with iPadOS, iOS 13 will bring support for external storage, including SD cards and USB flash drives. This will make importing and exporting photos and other data far easier than before. It will be available to iPhones dating back to the iPhone 6S.

Lots of small yet thoughtful changes are also coming, including the native Photos app’s new ability to rotate recorded videos without installing extra apps. Apple’s HomePod smart speaker will be able to recognize who’s speaking to it, thanks to iOS 13, and Siri is getting a new voice.

Issues we’ve encountered so far

We’ve seen a few expected issues pop up, including worse-than-usual battery life, frequent app crashes, and some formatting issues that cause text to spill outside of the interface.

A few more findings from our time with the iOS 13 public beta: dark mode hasn’t yet found its way to all of Apple’s first-party apps, you might have trouble using a mobile payments app that relies on barcode scanning, or your favorite third-party keyboard may not work.

How to install the iOS 13 beta

  • Head to Apple’s beta software portal from your iPhone’s browser
  • Click “Enroll Your Devices” at the top of the webpage (you may need to scroll horizontally to find it)
  • Click “iOS,” which is the middle option on the next page. Doing so will reveal a reminder to make sure that you’ve sent a backup of your phone’s content to your macOS computer, in case you need to revert to a previous state.
  • Scroll down until you find a button that says “Download profile,” then tap on it. This will bring up a warning that says the website is trying to download a configuration profile. Select “Allow.” You will get a pop-up window that says you can set the new profile from the Settings app.
  • Open the Settings app. A new section called “Profile Downloaded” should be added near the top. Select it, and you’ll have access to the beta software download.

What to know about iPadOS before installing it

Unlike previous iOS updates, iPadOS is bespoke software made just for the iPad. It aims to make these tablets into more of a valid laptop replacement than before. Whether that’s actually true, there are several adjustments from iOS 12 that could impact your workflow for the better.

The new iPadOS home screen has been overhauled to better utilize the iPad’s larger-than-iPhone screen sizes and to pack in more utility than before. It combines the default layout of app icons with the Notification Center, letting you see more information at a glance.

Apple has added several new features to iPadOS, and, according to Dieter Bohn in a recent Processor episode (see above), it has addressed a few annoyances from iOS 12. One of the biggest improvements is that iPadOS includes a file manager, and with it, long-requested support for USB drives and SD cards. This allows you to import photos and do other file transfers as you would with a laptop.

iPadOS also brings a desktop-class Safari browser, which should allow you to view desktop versions of websites that would have previously routed your iPad to the mobile versions. Google Docs, a web app that many people rely on for their work, runs surprisingly well, though that may not ring true for all desktop sites.

Lastly, as mentioned before, updating to iPadOS will allow you to use your iPad as a wireless secondary display for your macOS computer if you need more screen real estate. Adobe has pledged drawing tablet support in Illustrator, and other apps that will support it include Affinity Photo, Cinema 4D, Maya, ZBrush, and more.

Issues we’ve encountered so far

On multiple iPad units, we’ve seen frequent lock-ups and issues with multitasking. Gestures don’t always register, and the new Photos app freezes sometimes, during which manually rebooting sometimes isn’t possible. You’ll just have to wait it out.

How to download the iPadOS beta

  • Head to Apple’s beta software portal from your iPad’s browser
  • Click “Enroll Your Devices” at the top of the webpage (you may need to scroll horizontally to find it)
  • Click “iPadOS,” which is the right-most option on the next page. Doing so will reveal a reminder to first make a backup on your macOS computer, in case you need to revert your OS to a previous state.
  • Scroll down until you find a button that says “Download profile,” then select it. This will bring up a warning that says the website is trying to download a configuration profile. Select “Allow.” You’ll get a pop-up window that says you can set the new profile from the Settings app.
  • Open the Settings app, and a new section called “Profile Downloaded” should be added near the top. Select it, and you should have access to the beta software download.

Image by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

What to know about tvOS 13 before installing the beta

The latest operating system that runs on the Apple TV 4K and the Apple TV HD set-top boxes is now in public beta, and while the changes aren’t as sweeping as those in iOS 13 or iPadOS, there are still some things to get excited about.

New features and improvements coming to tvOS 13 include a redesigned home screen that places more emphasis on full-screen content previews, multiuser support, and personalized recommendations for each user who is logged into the Apple TV.

Xbox One and PlayStation 4 controller support are also coming with the tvOS 13 update. This will make gaming on the Apple TV more comfortable, if you’d rather not get used to the feel of a different controller. It’ll be cheaper, too, for those who already own one of these consoles. Even if you don’t own one, they’re more affordable than most of the Apple TV-compatible Bluetooth controllers that are currently available.

Another new feature is picture-in-picture support (at least, according to 9to5Mac’s dive through the developer version of the beta). Apple didn’t announce this feature onstage at WWDC 2019, but if it debuts in the public beta, people will be able to watch TV shows or movies in a small, pop-out window while navigating the Apple TV.

How to download the tvOS 13 beta

  • First, register for Apple’s beta software program through its portal
  • On your Apple TV, go to “Settings,” then select “Accounts”
  • Apple’s beta portal will tell you that you need to sign on to your Apple TV with the same Apple ID that you used to enroll in the beta software program
  • Once that’s done, go back to “Settings,” select “System,” then enter the “Software Updates” section. The last option on this page is called “Get Beta Updates.” Select “On.” You’ll then receive an update to install.

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