Apple Delivers Promised Features in End-of-Year OS Updates

Every year at its Worldwide Developer Conference in June, Apple previews planned features in the upcoming versions of macOS, iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, and tvOS. However, not all of those features are necessarily ready for the initial releases of those operating systems. In part, that’s because iOS must ship in sync with the latest iPhone models that Apple releases in September, whereas iPadOS and macOS often come out later. Even then, some of Apple’s promised features may not be ready for public consumption until the .1 or .2 updates.

Just before the holidays, Apple released a full set of updates, including iOS 16.2, iPadOS 16.2, macOS 13.1 Ventura, watchOS 9.2, and tvOS 16.2. Between those updates and the ones immediately preceding them, Apple has now delivered on all of its 2022 promises.

Here is a rundown of what’s now possible. Some features are specific to one of Apple’s operating systems; others cut across several and may work only on updated devices or even require that all your devices be upgraded:

  • iCloud Shared Photo Library: Starting in iOS 16.1, iPadOS 16.1, and macOS 13.0, you can create another photo library and share it with family and close friends. It’s a great way to create a single shared space for photos and videos, but note that everything you contribute moves out of your Personal Library and into the Shared Library. Plus, everyone with whom you’re sharing has equal permissions to add, edit, and delete content in the Shared Library. The person who creates the Shared Library must have space in iCloud for it; it doesn’t count against anyone else’s iCloud storage.
  • Live Activities: With iOS 16.1, Apple also unveiled Live Activities, a new type of dynamic notification that can appear on the iPhone’s Lock Screen or the iPhone 14 Pro’s Dynamic Island. Live Activities allow apps to display data like live sports scores (from the TV app), active weather (in CARROT Weather, below), flight tracking (in Flighty), and more.
  • Freeform: The most notable addition in iOS 16.2, iPadOS 16.2, and macOS 13.1 was Freeform, Apple’s digital whiteboard app designed for collaborative brainstorming. It enables users to lay out a wide variety of content on a flexible canvas without worrying about fixed layouts or restrictive page sizes. Boards can contain text, hand-drawn graphics, sticky notes, shapes, and attachments—nearly any file on your Mac, iPad, or iPhone. Data syncs to your other devices through iCloud, and you can invite others (who must also be running a supported operating system) to collaborate on a board in real time.
  • New Home architecture: Apple promised that the new Home architecture would be more reliable and efficient, although it’s not clear what that means. It does require an explicit upgrade, and once upgraded, devices that aren’t running the latest versions of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, tvOS, and HomePod Software won’t be able to access the home. Apple has temporarily removed the option to upgrade after problems were reported, so perhaps wait until the company restores the upgrade and others have had a chance to test it.
  • Stage Manager on external displays: The feature that initially caused iPadOS 16 to be delayed was Stage Manager, Apple’s new windowing paradigm for the iPad and the Mac. However, even when it first shipped in iPadOS 16.1, Stage Manager didn’t support external displays on the iPad. With iPadOS 16.2, you can finally have four apps in Stage Manager on the iPad display and another four on an external display. However, using Stage Manager on an external display requires an M1 iPad, which means the fifth-generation iPad Air, the third-generation 11-inch iPad Pro and later, and the fifth-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro and later.
  • Race Route and automatic track detection: In watchOS 9.2, the new Race Route feature gives you the option of racing your last or best time on any route you’ve run or biked at least twice. Plus, if you start an Outdoor Run workout while at a track, you’re prompted to begin a Track workout that optionally provides track-specific metrics like lap time and pace.
  • Advanced Data Protection: In a surprise announcement in December, Apple unveiled Advanced Data Protection for iCloud, which extends end-to-end encryption to many more types of data in iCloud. For those concerned about breaches of Apple’s security or overreach by law enforcement, Advanced Data Protection is a very good thing. The downside is that when the feature is enabled, Apple cannot recover your data if you forget your iCloud password. For most people, the standard iCloud data protection remains sufficient. If you want to upgrade, note that all devices that you want to connect to your iCloud account must be running the latest operating system versions, which may not be possible for some otherwise fully functional older devices.
  • Apple Music Sing: If you’ve been hankering to sing along with your favorite songs, Apple Music Sing is essentially karaoke for Apple Music subscribers on the iPhone, iPad, and third-generation Apple TV. Alcohol not included.

Between these new features and some important security updates, we strongly encourage anyone running iOS 16, iPadOS 16, watchOS 9, and tvOS 16 to update to iOS 16.2, iPadOS 16.2, watchOS 9.2, and tvOS 16.2. And if you’re still running an earlier version of one of those operating systems, you can upgrade to the latest at any time—they’re fine.

Similarly, if you’re already running macOS 13 Ventura—perhaps on a newly purchased Mac— you should update to version 13.1 to take advantage of security fixes. However, if you haven’t yet upgraded from macOS 12 Monterey, perhaps wait a little longer. There has been only one macOS update with bug fixes since the initial release of Ventura, so it feels as though another bug fix update might arrive soon, after which we may recommend general upgrades.

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Social Media: At the end of 2022, Apple released operating system updates that delivered previously promised features like Freeform, Stage Manager on external displays, Advanced Data Protection for iCloud, and more. See what’s new at:

Here’s How to Stop Getting Paste Permission Requests

In iOS 16, Apple tightened security by displaying a confirmation alert when you copy data from one app and paste it into another. More security isn’t bad, but these alerts can become annoying if you copy and paste frequently. In iOS 16.1, Apple added a setting to control the behavior for each app. If you get these alerts too often when pasting in an app, go to Settings > AppName > Paste from Other Apps and switch it from Ask to Allow. Many apps don’t include the setting; hopefully, any apps where you paste often will have this setting or include it soon.

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Delete Contacts More Easily in iOS 16 and iPadOS 16

Deleting contacts on the iPhone and iPad used to be a pain, especially if you wanted to trash multiple contacts. You had to open the contact, tap Edit, scroll to the bottom, and tap Delete Contact. Although you still can’t swipe left on a contact in a list, as you do when deleting in Mail and Messages, iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 provide a simpler method. Touch and hold a contact in the Phone or Contacts lists, and then tap Delete Contact at the bottom.

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You Can Now Use Siri to Reboot Your iPhone or iPad

Although iOS and iPadOS are extremely stable, there are times when rebooting your iPhone or iPad can eliminate odd or problematic behavior, and there’s no harm in trying it. In the past, you’ve had to remember which buttons to press or select Settings > General > Shut Down and then press a button to turn the device back on. In iOS 16 and iPadOS 16, however, Siri has learned a new trick: how to reboot iPhones and iPads. Invoke Siri by holding the side button or Home button, and then say, “Reboot” or “Restart this device.” (Using “Hey Siri” can result in unexpected results, and saying “Restart” on its own tends to cause Music to start playing the last song.) Tap Restart, and your device reboots. If only this worked for the Apple Watch and HomePod too!

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Need to Amuse Small Children During the Holidays? Try Slow Motion Video

If you find yourself at a family gathering with bored children over the holidays, allow us to recommend an activity that can keep kids engaged. Figure out something the kids can do that involves motion—knocking down a tower of blocks, rolling a ball or toy car down stairs, even just making silly faces—and record them using the Slo-Mo option in the Camera app. Swipe left (iPhone) or down (iPad) on the viewfinder or labels to move from Photo mode to Slo-Mo mode, and then tap the red record button to start filming. Our test kids had fun building tall towers to knock over while filming, giggled madly while watching the videos, and went on to brainstorm other activities to film in slow motion.

(Featured image by Vafina)

Practice with the Emergency SOS via Satellite Demo, Just in Case

In mid-November, Apple launched its new Emergency SOS via satellite feature for the iPhone 14 lineup. If you have an iPhone 14 and find yourself in an emergency situation in the US or Canada without cellular or Wi-Fi service, you can still contact emergency services. Apple says the service will expand to France, Germany, Ireland, and the UK in December 2022. The service is free for 2 years, and Apple hasn’t said what it will cost after that.

The challenge we users face with Emergency SOS via satellite is that it works only when you have no cellular or Wi-Fi service, and nearly all the time when you’re in such a situation, there’s no emergency. So if something bad does happen when you’re far from civilization, you may not be in the best state of mind to use Emergency SOS for the first time.

Apple has thought of that and provides two ways to get some experience talking to a satellite. One is the Emergency SOS via satellite demo, which you can try anytime. Or, for a real-world test of the system when you have no cellular or Wi-Fi coverage, you can try sharing your location via satellite using the Find My app. Once you’re outside with a clear view of the sky, here’s what to do.

Emergency SOS via Satellite Demo

To get started with the Emergency SOS via satellite demo, go to Settings > Emergency SOS, scroll down, and tap Try Demo. First, the iPhone walks you through several screens that turn off cellular, explain how the system works, and tell you that in a real emergency, you’ll answer a series of standard questions to help the dispatcher send the help you need.

Next, the demo teaches you how to find and connect to a satellite. Along with asking you to turn left or right—follow the arrows on the locator until it turns green—the demo may tell you that you have to wait for a few minutes until another satellite comes into range.

You won’t run through the same questionnaire you would in a real emergency, though. Instead, you get canned texts that mimic the conversation you might have with a real dispatcher. You can reply however you want, but it won’t change the responses. When you finish, tap End Demo.

Remember, in a real emergency, you’d dial 911 or invoke Emergency SOS by holding the side button and either volume button until the Emergency SOS slider appears. The call won’t work, but you’ll be able to start the Emergency SOS via satellite process for real.

Share Your Location with Find My via Satellite

As welcome as Emergency SOS via satellite will be if you ever need it, Find My via satellite may have more real-world utility right now. It enables you to share your location manually via the Find My app, regardless of the situation. Once you complete the process, anyone with whom you share your location generally will be able to see the updated-via-satellite location.

To get started in your cellular-free location, open the Find My app, tap Me in the toolbar, and tap Send My Location.

Find My will then start directing you to turn left and right, holding your iPhone up to the sky and pointing it at the satellite. A circular direction-finder shows which way to go and when you’re pointing in the right direction. If it fails (as it did in the lower-left message below), you’ll be directed to get a clear view of the horizon. If you’re in a deep valley, climbing higher may solve the problem, as it did in our test. The process isn’t quick, but the constant feedback and progress bar ensures that you feel like it’s doing something the entire time.

It’s important to realize that no one will be notified of your location, and you have no other way to communicate with people via satellite. So you’ll want to make plans with a friend or family member before you go into a situation where you could need help without having cellular service. Have a conversation beforehand so they know to look for you in Find My if you don’t get in touch by a predetermined time.

It would be nice if you could notify family or friends of your location for situations where you’d like help but don’t need emergency services. In the future, Apple could use the Send My Current Location option in Messages, but that doesn’t work via satellite now. Regardless, Emergency SOS and Find My via satellite are tremendously impressive, and we expect Apple to enhance the iPhone’s satellite communication capabilities in future iPhones and versions of iOS.

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Social Media: For iPhone 14 owners, the future is here today with Emergency SOS and Find My via satellite, which let you contact emergency services and share your location by talking to a communications satellite. Learn how to try it here: