The iOS App Developer Beta Program is one of the keys to making sure that all apps are properly updated for a new operating system release soon after it becomes available to the public. Developers get early access to upcoming iOS software and can test out all new features firsthand. They can also incorporate newly added functionality into their own apps so that end users can install them as soon as possible after upgrading their phones or tablets. Developers can apply to the Apple Developer Program for free on Apple’s website. By participating in the beta program, you can get an inside, early look at new versions of iOS to make sure that your apps are properly updated by the time it officially rolls out. iOS 8.3 is just on the horizon, and there are a few key modifications that all app developers need to know about.
iOS 8.3 finally adds support for two-step verification, particularly as it relates to Google, on all iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad devices. Google has long supported two-step verification for all of its products and services, which requires both a password and a unique verification code in order to log into an account. The iOS operating system has never actually natively supported this feature. The current workaround involved using a Google account to create an “app-specific password,” which allowed users to log into accounts but was much less secure. The app-specific password was never designed to be used more than once and is never actually saved unless the user writes it down. This created a cumbersome system that resulted in the creation of another app-specific password whenever iOS prompted a user to re-enter login information. This is no longer a problem thanks to the feature’s native support in iOS 8.3.
Wider Support for Apple Pay
Apple Pay is Apple’s own digital wallet payment system that allows users to tie one or more credit or debit cards directly to their phones. They can then use their phones as a form of payment instead of the physical cards. According to the iOS 8.3 beta release notes, Apple Pay is about to roll out in a greater number of countries across the world — most notably in China. iOS 8.3 adds support to the operating system for China’s UnionPay network. It is unknown what a U.S. adoption of China’s UnionPay would look like at this time. However, the addition likely comes from the recent success that Apple has seen in China thanks to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
In the last few years, Apple has placed an increased emphasis on the ways in which its iOS devices can interact with a person’s car. Car manufacturers have essentially done the same, and many new models are rolling out with CarPlay functionality. This allows users to connect their iPhones or iPads to their cars to access data on a dashboard media unit. Previously, CarPlay was only available via the use of a lightning cable, but iOS 8.3 changes all that. CarPlay now fully supports wireless connectivity, meaning that users can now listen to music, make and receive calls, and perform other functions all without the use of a lightning cable.
Supported makes and models include certain 2014 models and all 2015 models of premium trim levels from Fiat, Ford, Honda, Jeep, Kia, Land Rover and more.
An issue from previous versions of iOS regarding CarPlay and Verizon’s Voice-over-LTE service remains in iOS 8.3 beta; Verizon users who attempt to connect to a CarPlay-compatible car cannot currently do so. Apple has recommended that developers set this functionality to “data only” to circumvent these problems for the time being.
The iOS 8.3 beta version has also placed an increased emphasis on software development in general by way of the WatchKit software development kit. Thanks to this important inclusion, app developers can now get started in earnest working on apps for the upcoming Apple Watch wearable device. WatchKit allows you to program an app to send “Push” notifications to an Apple Watch in addition to an iPhone, for example.
Other Notable Features in iOS 8.3 Beta
- A new “Emoji Picker” has been added, allowing users to select emojis for text messages that have been separated into categories. Users can now also change the skin tone of those emojis.
- Support languages for Siri have been updated to include Russian, Danish, Turkish, Thai and more.
- The “Passbook” app has been modified to separate credit cards and other passes into two different categories. They were previously available only from a single screen.
It is expected that Apple will add even more new features to iOS 8.3 beta prior to its public launch, which analysts predict could be as early as next week.