Apple surprises developers with iOS 7 beta 6 release

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Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) unexpectedly released the sixth beta version of its new iOS 7 operating system Thursday afternoon. The company issued iOS 7 beta 5 less than two weeks ago and typically drops new iOS updates to developers on Monday mornings, suggesting this latest over-the-air release contains improvements deemed critical by Apple brass.

"This update addresses an issue with iTunes in the Cloud, where some purchases may download or play unexpected items," Apple said in a note to developers. "If you have any devices running previous versions of iOS 7 beta, you should install iOS 7 beta 6 as well as a configuration profile that will allow you to reset the libraries within Music settings."

iOS 7 beta 6 also includes development versions of new male and female Siri voices for U.S. English, French, and German. Siri--introduced in late 2011 in tandem with the iPhone 4S--enables users to employ natural spoken language to access and perform device tasks like mobile search, messaging and contacts. Prior to iOS 7, Siri responses were limited exclusively to a female voice.

iOS 7 beta 6 additionally delivers tweaks and enhancements for features like the Safari browser and Passbook virtual wallet, as well as security improvements and a host of bug fixes.

Apple unveiled iOS 7 in June at its annual Worldwide Developer Conference. The revamp signals the elimination of skeuomorphism, the longstanding iOS design aesthetic that leverages real-world images and metaphors like linen-textured backgrounds, wooden bookshelves and spiral-bound notebooks. iOS 7 also heralds the launch of multitasking for all apps, AirDrop wireless file sharing and the iTunes Radio streaming music service.

Apple is widely expected to unveil the latest edition of its iPhone at a media event scheduled for Sept. 10. In an investors note released Monday night, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster speculated the iPhone 5S will introduce biometric fingerprint scanning features leveraging technologies acquired when Apple purchased digital security firm AuthenTec for $356 million in mid-2012. Munster does not expect Apple will introduce mobile payment support until iOS 8 rolls out in 2014.

Rumors indicate Apple also will launch a low-cost iPhone priced around $300. Munster believes the device, reportedly dubbed the iPhone 5C, will not support signature iOS features and capabilities including Siri, which was not an option on the iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4 upon launch.

For more:
- read this PCMag.com article
- read this BGR article

Related articles:
Analyst: Apple's low-cost iPhone could drop Siri support
Report: Apple to debut next iPhone on Sept. 10
Apple's iOS 7 beta 4 hints at biometric fingerprint scanning
Apple's iOS 7 beta 3 brings fixes for Messages, iCloud bugs
Apple rolls out iOS 7 beta 2, adds iPad support
Apple CEO Cook: New iOS 7 is the 'biggest change to iOS since the iPhone'

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