The SitePoint PHP blog has a new post from editor Bruno Skvorc looking at the final beta for PHP 5.6, the latest bugfix release for this upcoming version. He talks about some of the major changes, security upgrades and other fixes included in the release.
On June 5th 2014, the PHP group announced the fourth and final beta of the 5.6 version. This milestone ends the beta program and begins the RC program (currently planned for June 19th), which will from now on focus exclusively on making sure the version is stable enough for release. As is customary with a beta program, no new features were added since beta 1 – all the releases were bugfix and improvement patches only.
New features coming in PHP 5.6 include exponentiation via the "**" operator, the change of the default character set to UTF-8 and several security updates (based on releasely released vulnerabilities in underlying libraries PHP uses). There are a few backwards compatibility breaks that come with the new release as well as deprecated features and various other smaller updates.