Yesterday Apple released the first beta of iOS 13.4, the first beta in a while to contain any notable new features and changes. New additions include the much-anticipated return of iCloud Drive Folder Sharing, new Photos app keyboard shortcuts, and more. Watch our brief hands-on video walkthrough for a first look at what’s new in iOS 13.4.

What’s new? iOS 13.4 beta 1 changes and features

  • Older phones without a notch get a status bar in Control Center
  • 9 new Memoji stickers
  • Always listen for Hey Siri accessibility option
  • Fixed Mail app toolbar
  • iCloud Drive Folder Sharing returns
  • VPN disabled notification in status bar
  • Ask Siri to go to Home screen
  • Ellipsis in the Music apps Lyrics panel for instrumental introductions
  • Shazam Shortcuts action
  • Hardware key mapping
  • New Photos app keyboard shortcuts for iPadOS let you quickly navigate between tabs, search, and create albums. While in full screen mode you can also delete, duplicate, and enter Edit mode using a keyboard.
  • CarKey
  • New call controls and third-party navigation in CarPlay
  • Family Sharing in TV app

iOS 13.4 beta 1 video walkthrough

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9to5Mac’s take

This is an exciting time because it’s been a while since we’ve had a substantial iOS and iPadOS beta update with new features and significant changes. Although Apple has been no doubt working on these and other changes for months, this is what I like to view as the start of the unofficial march towards iOS 14’s debut in June.

Although there are a few nice user-facing features, like the 9 new Memoji stickers, it’s what’s under the hood that has me the most excited. CarKey sounds interesting, and there appears to be a not so insignificant amount of new Siri changes under the hood. We’ve already been able to test the “go to home screen” Siri command, but there are apparently other new practical commands like this that are being worked on.

Perhaps most exciting are the new keyboard changes, particularly the ability to Map modifier keys like you can on macOS, and the ability for apps to recognize when specific keys are pressed and released.

There’s also the presence of keyboard shortcut support for the stock Photos app. With the rumors that Apple may be launching a backlit Smart Keyboard — Smart Keyboard Pro, anyone? — it makes sense that added emphasis is being placed on building up software capability for keyboards.

Finally, there’s iCloud Drive folder sharing support, which was revealed during the initial iOS 13 beta but has yet to ship on a publicly-available version of iOS. With its reemergence in the iOS 13.4 and iPadOS 13.4 betas, it’s possible that iCloud Drive folder sharing could launch this spring.

What are your thoughts on the iOS 13.4 beta? Sound off in the comments below.

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