Apple Updates

Apple recently announced new devices and released updates to their various operating systems: iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS. These system updates are not the major system updates we usually get near the end of the year, but a smaller collection of features and tweaks. As with every release, there are also a set of bug fixes and security and privacy updates. Here’s a quick overview of the updates.

iOS/iPadOS 14.5

There are quite a few updates in this release of iOS. Here are a few of the most important ones.

Unlocking iPhone with a Face Mask

If you have a newer iPhone that uses Face ID, then you know that wearing a face mask means that Face ID will not recognize your face. With this update, if you also have an Apple Watch, you can set your iPhone to unlock if it detects that you’re wearing a face mask and are also wearing your Apple Watch.

To turn this on, go to Settings, Face ID and Passcode and turn on Unlock with Apple Watch.

App Tracking Transparency

As I noted in an earlier post (here), Apple has a new privacy feature that requires apps to ask permission in order to track you across different websites and apps. Starting in iOS 14.5 Apple is enforcing this with apps. If you haven’t turned off this tracking setting, you may start seeing prompts from apps asking if they can track you. My advice: turn this off so no apps can do this. See my post here for the steps to turn this off for all apps.

Apple has a good video here that describes the feature and what it means.

Reminders

The Reminders app adds the ability to sort and also print your lists. Tap the Menu button in the upper right (a circle with three dots), and tap Sort By or Print.

Note: if you want to create a PDF file from your list, have a look at my post (here) that shows how to do that from the Print screen.

Apple Maps

Apple Maps now allows you to report incidents, which it will then use to alert other users. The types of incidents include accidents, road hazards, and speed traps.

When you’re using Apple Maps to navigate to a destination, tap the arrow at the bottom of the screen, and choose Report.

You can also say something such as “Hey Siri, there is an accident ahead.

Music

If you use Siri to start playing music, for example, by saying ”Hey Siri, play some music from the Beatles”, it will now ask which music service you’d like to use (if you have more than one installed). Better yet, it remembers your choice so you don’t have to tell it again.

Emoji

As always, there are new emojis included in this update. Perhaps better, you can now search for emojis on an iPad. Emoji search was added for the iPhone in iOS 14, so it’s nice to see it finally come to iPad as well.

Fitness+

If you use Apple’s Fitness+ service, you can now use AirPlay to display your workout from your iPhone or iPad on your television, assuming your television or streaming device supports AirPlay. This is a great addition, as seeing your workout on the larger screen is much nicer than squinting at a small screen.

Gaming

If you like to play games on your iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV, there is now support for using game controllers from your Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5.

Apple Pencil

If you have an iPad and use the Apple Pencil, you can now use the Scribble feature in more languages, including German, French, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.

Scribble, if you’re unfamiliar with it, allows you to use the Apple Pencil to write in text fields and have that automatically converted to text. I’ll be writing more about using the Apple Pencil in an upcoming post.

Air Tags & Finding Items

The Find My app has been updated to allow it to locate items as well as your devices and friends & family. For example, you can attach a location tracker to something you don’t want to lose, say your keys or luggage, and then use the Find My app to locate them if you misplace them.

Not only will companies sell tracker devices, but some will add Find My support directly into their products, such as bicycles and ear buds.

Apple announced a new product using these features called AirTags. These are small, battery-powered devices that are easy to put in a bag or attach to something. You can read more about Air Tags here.

In addition to AirTags, these other products were also announced:

User Interface Tweaks

As is common with updates, there are various small tweaks to the user interface of various Apple apps. Apple Music, Podcasts, and News have some updates that should make them easier to use or make certain features easier to find.

Other System Updates

Apple also updated macOS, tvOS, and watchOS with smaller updates. For Apple Watch, support for unlocking iPhone while wearing a face mask was added, and Apple TV gains the ability to use iPhone to calibrate the color on your television.

Device Updates

Last week Apple announced new iPads Pro, iMacs, Apple TV 4K, and a new iPhone color: purple. Some highlights are below. For more details, click the Learn More link after each section.

iPad Pro

The updated iPads Pro have several improvements over the previous generation:

  • Apple’s latest M1 chip: This chip is the brains of the iPad, and is the same chip Apple is using in their newest Macs. This gives the new iPads a pretty substantial boost in performance.
  • Ultra-wide FaceTime camera: The new front-facing camera has a much wider field of view, which means it can see more. This supports a new video feature called Center Stage which automatically keeps you in the center of the frame during video calls, even if you’re moving around. The resolution of the front camera has also increased from 7 MP to 12 MP, providing sharper images.
  • 5G: The addition of 5G in the cellular models provides more speed when working away from Wi-Fi. This will be good for road warriors or travelers that don’t always have access to Wi-Fi.
  • Thunderbolt: These new iPads include a Thunderbolt port, which looks like the previous USB-C connector but supports much faster speeds. This allows files to be moved from external devices much more quickly, as well as supports higher resolution external displays. The new connector continues to support all the USB-C peripherals as before. This will be great for photographers or others that need to transfer large files from their camera or SD card while on the go.
  • Screen: The 12.9” iPad Pro gets updated screen technology called Liquid Retina XDR, which supports High Dynamic Range and a new backlight system called mini LED. This allows the screen to get much brighter and better show bright and dark scenes on the screen at the same time. This will will be great for photographers and video editors who need to be able to edit their work on the go.

These are great updates for the iPad Pro. That said, the previous generations of the iPad Pro are very powerful devices as well. These updates will be great for the types of work that benefits from the most powerful computers, such as photo and video editing.

Learn more here.

iMac

Apple introduced a new iMac computer that uses Apple’s new M1 chip and comes with a 24” display. It’s only 14.5 mm thick, about the same as an Apple Watch. It’s available in 7 colors and, in my opinion, looks gorgeous.

These have a 4.5K resolution screen, 1080p FaceTime camera, 6 speakers, and studio quality microphones. They’ll be great machines for movies, games, video calls, and work. If you’re in the market for a desktop computer, this would be a great choice.

Learn more here.

Apple TV

The new Apple TV 4K has some minor updates, but nothing that compelling in my opinion. The device has an updated processor, now supporting High Frame Rate HDR, which means it can better display fast motion for High Dynamic Range content.

A new remote control that can better control your television, including power and mute will be included.

With the updated processor providing better performance, we may see new and updated games, though Apple did not announce anything.

Learn more here.

What’s Next?

Apple’s next announced event is their developer conference starting on June 7. Apple generally provides previews of their next major system updates at this event and also sometimes announces new devices.

I hope you found this post useful. I’ll keep you posted when other updates or devices are announced.

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