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Apple releases fourth developer betas of iOS 12, tvOS 12, and watchOS 5

Apple has rolled out new developer betas for its milestone operating systems, with fourth beta builds of iOS 12, tvOS 12, and watchOS 5 available for testing one day after the newest beta of macOS 10.14 Mojave.

Developers enrolled into the testing program can acquire the new builds from the Apple Developer Center, or as over-the-air updates for devices using previous beta versions. Public beta versions usually ship within a few days of the developer betas, and will be downloadable from the Apple Beta Software Program website.

The fourth beta of iOS 12 is build number 16A5327f, replacing the third beta with build number 16A5318d.

Performance improvements are being included in iOS 12 to make it more useful for those with older iPhones and iPads, not just for newer models. As part of the same update, iPhone X-inspired gestures and notification grouping will be introduced for iPad users, giving them some of the same comfort features as the premium smartphone.

A new focus on digital health is also apparent in iOS 12, including Screen Time allowing users to monitor their app usage and introduce restrictions to help reduce their dependency on certain types of apps.

New versions of stock apps, including Stocks, News, Weather, and Voice Memos are being included, while a new first-party app Measure will take advantage of ARKit to measure objects in 3D space, using the rear camera. Siri Shortcuts, Group FaceTime, MeMoji, and third-party map support in CarPlay are also included.

The fourth tvOS 12 beta is replacing the third beta, which had build number 16J5313d. At the time of writing, the download page shows the fourth beta to have the same build number as the third, but this is likely to update later today.

Arguably the biggest change for tvOS 12 is support for Dolby Atmos surround sound, which is capable of locating sounds in 3D space, without relying on discrete channels. There are also more home control systems that will link their remotes to the Apple TV and include Siri support as part of the release.

Cross-device Autofill aims to make it easier for user to sign into apps on the Apple TV if they have already logged in on an iOS device. For cable users, more cable services have said they will use the Apple TV as an alternate to the cable box, including Charter Spectrum later in 2018, France's Canal+, and Switzerland's Salt. Single Sign-On will become Zero Sign-On in some cases, with the Apple TV automatically signing the user into channel apps after detecting what provider's network is being used.

The Aerial screensaver will also get a boost, with extra details about photographed locations able to be brought onscreen by a swipe and a tap. A new Aerial view called "Earth" will show the planet, filmed from the International Space Station.

Apple's fourth beta for watchOS 5 has build number 16R5322d, up from the third build's 16R5313d.

The key addition to watchOS 5 is the Walkie Talkie app, which offers push-to-talk communications with a contact's Apple Watch. Pressing the on-screen button immediately opens the line, playing what the transmitting user is saying through the receiving Apple Watch's speaker.

The Siri watch face can now accept third-party apps, including some provided by Nike. Siri has been updated to be activated by a raise of the wrist, instead of requiring the user to state "Hey Siri" as a prompt.

Users can sign up for seven-day activity competitions against their contacts, with progress updates shared between participants, and the potential to win awards. Specific types of workouts are allowed in the mode, including yoga, hiking, and 12 others, along with running outdoors with pace alerts.

Automatic workout detection is also included, along with stress detection if it determines the user has stopped exercising.

AppleInsider, and Apple itself, strongly advise against installing beta releases on mission-critical hardware, due to the potential for data loss. Those interested in testing the betas out should use secondary devices, and to keep backups of any important data before installing or performing updates.