Apple is getting close to the release of its next batch of operating system updates, issuing to developers GM versions of iOS 13.5, iPadOS 13.5, tvOS 13.4.5, and watchOS 6.2.5 for testing.
The GM builds can be downloaded by developers enrolled in the beta-testing scheme via the Apple Developer Center, or as an over-the-air update for hardware already using earlier beta builds.
At the time of publication, the "Gold Master" versions of iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, and watchOS have been provided, while a variant for macOS has yet to arrive. The issuance of GM builds are a strong indication that Apple will be making the final releases of the updates in the very near future.
Apple issued the fourth betas for iOS 13.5 and iPadOS 13.5 on May 6, followed by fourth-round versions of macOS 10.15.5, and tvOS 13.4.5 one day later on May 7. The third round versions were provided on April 29, along with a renumbering of iOS and iPadOS from their initial version numbers of 13.4.5. The second round landed on April 15, and while the first round for iOS, iPadOS, and tvOS appeared on March 31.
The fifth watchOS 6.2.5 build was released on May 14, bringing it one generation ahead of the rest.
The iOS and iPadOS betas had a few new features, specifically relating to COVID-19. One was the first software hooks required for the Exposure Notification API to function in contact tracing apps, one that Apple issued sample code for to developers on the subject on May 4.
Another related change was Face ID's handling of face masks, which hinder facial recognition by covering the bottom half of the user's face. When a face mask is detected, Face ID will automatically skip the process of retrying and waiting for a timeout, in favor of prompting for a passcode entry in a smaller timeframe.
Both AppleInsider and Apple itself strongly recommend users don't install the betas on to "mission-critical" or primary devices, as there is the remote possibility of data loss or other issues. Instead, testers should install betas onto secondary or non-essential devices, and to make sure there are sufficient backups of important data before updating.