Recapping Apple’s OS Updates

The Daily Observations

OS updates for Apple things, banks are eyeing Apple Pay users, and the bilingual, international, based on a comic-book wine show you’ve been waiting for. 

Apple Releases OS Updates for iPhone, iPad, and HomePod

With new hardware hitting this week and next, and with the promise of new art to honor Black History Month starting this week, new operating systems for everything were expected this week, and Apple started the week with them. iOS/iPadOS/tvOS 16.3 made their ways to the world, along with macOS 13.2 and watchOS 9.3. 

New Features and More for iOS and iPadOS

Running through new features of the iOS and iPadOS releases, a piece from iDownloadBlog says — yes — iOS 16.3 got the new Unity wallpapers Apple teased last week. That seems to be the most passive change to the operating system.

The company has tweaked Emergency SOS for iOS. Instead of just holding down the power and volume buttons to make an emergency call, the piece says there’s “a new option that requires the user to subsequently release those buttons” to actually make the call. The apparent hope is that that’ll cut down on the number of accidental emergency calls. 

Probably the biggest news across most of Apple’s OS updates is support for hardware security keys. The way iDownloadBlog explains it:

The hardware key works as a second factor in 2-factor authentication, allowing you to simply plug your hardware key into your device to authenticate when signing in.

While available to everyone, when Apple announced support for security keys last December, it said the feature was really for relatively high-profile targets. The sorts of people Apple sees it for include celebrities, journalists, and members of government.

More applicable to more people is the wider rollout of Advanced Data Protection. Adding end-to-end encryption to a number of iCloud features that did not have it before, Advanced Data Protection rolled out to users in the US in iOS 16.2. With iOS 16.3, iDownloadBlog says the option has gone global 

There are other tweaks and bug fixes. A piece from MacRumors has Apple’s release notes for the iOS update saying it fixes the horizontal lines issue that was vexing iPhone 14 Pro Max users when waking that device. 

And — of course — there are security updates. And those don’t stop with iOS 16. A quick check of Apple’s security update page shows the release of iOS 12.5.7, iOS 15.7.3, and iPadOS 15.7.3. Those bring important security patches to hardware as old as iPhone 5s and the original iPad Air that either cannot or have not made the move to the iOS/iPadOS 16-dot realm. 

The HomePod mini Learns a New Trick

New software for HomePod sort of slots in with iOS and iPadOS. The new software for that brings support for the temperature and humidity sensors already found in HomePod mini and coming soon in the soon-to-be-released HomePod v2. There’s also said to be a new prompt when trying to HandOff from another device to the HomePod. 

macOS Ventura 13.2 Makes the Scene

On the more traditional computer front, a piece from MacRumors says macOS Ventura 13.2 is on the map. This one brings the hardware security key support mentioned earlier. Apple’s release notes say it also:

  • Fixes an issue where VoiceOver may stop offering audio feedback while you are typing

And it:

  • Fixes an issue in Freeform where some drawing strokes created with Apple Pencil or your finger may not appear on shared boards

It seems this was actually a Freeform issue, not something hardware specific. Apple’s release notes for iOS and iPadOS 16.3 mentioned fixing the same problem. 

In addition to the new features and fixes, there are security updates for yesterday and today. In addition to vulnerabilities addressed for the latest Ventura update, returning to Apple’s security page shows the release of macOS Big Sur 11.7.3 and macOS Monterey 12.6.3. Similar to the older iOS and iPadOS updates, these are for machines that can’t or won’t venture to Ventura.

And the Rest…

Apple’s other updates get the Professor and Mary Ann treatment. That’s because there’s apparently not much to one of them, and even less known about the other. MacRumors writes up both watchOS 9.3 and tvOS 16.3. On the watch watch, the site says:

The update adds new features, improvements, and bug fixes, including the Unity Mosaic watch face that was announced last week in celebration of Black History Month.

There are also security fixes listed on Apple’s site. Interestingly, there are no security fixes listed for the tvOS update, though it may be a bit early for that. MacRumors says “Apple shares information on tvOS releases in its tvOS support document, which is updated after each tvOS launch.” As for what’s expected, the piece says no changes were spotted in the tvOS 16.3 betas, indicating tweaks, bug fixes, and — one imagines — security issues addressed.

AppleInsider: Long Wait for AirPods Max Not a Sign of New Model

A sort of combination warning on AirPods Max from AppleInsider. Warning number 1: Apple’s super-luxe cans are on backorder. Warning number 2: Don’t think the wait means a new model is on the way. 

According to the site, folks trying order a pair of the $549 headphones are looking at a two-to-three-week wait. Had I ordered a pair yesterday, Apple’s site said they could have been hugging my head sometime between Feb. 7 and Feb. 14. So… two to three weeks. 

While a 9to5Mac article wondered whether the longer wait times might mean new colors on the horizon, AppleInsider advises against reading anything into the wait besides, “you’re gonna have to wait.” The site concedes that new colors are not out of the realm of possibility. However something truly new is, in their estimation. Quoting AppleInsider:

It may be tempting to look at shipment times for an indication of Apple’s upcoming product announcements, but they are usually a red herring. AirPods Max ship dates slipping a few weeks could be for a number of reasons, but the least likely is impending new releases.

Banks Behind Zelle Plan Digital Wallet for Online Purchases

Apple Pay may have new competition on the horizon — from the people whose job is money. The Wall Street Journal (via Apple News) says the financial institutions behind the digital payments network Zelle are working on a digital wallet of their own. According to the piece:

The digital wallet will be managed by Early Warning Services LLC, the bank-owned company that operates money-transfer service Zelle. The wallet, which doesn’t have a name yet, will operate separately from Zelle, EWS said.

Bank-owned in a big way. Wikipedia says Zelle’s owners include Bank of America, Capital One, JPMorgan Chase, PNC Bank, Truist, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo.

While my first instinct was to wonder how they would get access to the components they’d need inside iPhone, it doesn’t sound like they’re thinking mobile wallet anytime soon. Rather, the Journal says the service “will allow shoppers to pay at merchants’ online checkout…” 

The report lists two goals for the consortium: reducing fraud and getting in better with consumers. The Journal says:

Banks are worried about losing control of their customer relationships. Apple, in particular, poses a big threat. The tech giant has moved further into financial services and is working on a savings account with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and a buy now, pay later offering. 

While the group is signaling its intentions, the turn it’s taking looks to be a ways away. The service is unnamed as of now, with user experience details still being ironed out.

Apple Announces Eight-Part Manga-Based Series ‘Drops of God’

And finally today, not since last year’s Monsterverse announcement has Apple TV+ announced something that sounded so out of left field. Come to think of it, it was one year ago this week that Apple announced a TV series set in the Godzilla universe. Now, another TV title hailing from Japan. The Cupertino-streamer issued a press release Monday announcing “an eight-episode global acquisition of new multilingual French-Japanese drama ‘Drops of God…’” 

Based on a manga title of the same name, “Drops of God” sees the world of wine rocked when one of its biggest stars passes away. He leaves his world renowned wine collection to his estranged daughter, though to take ownership, she must compete with her father’s “spiritual son.” 

It’s not just Japan and the week of the announcements that “Drops of God” and the Monsterverse series share. They are also both products of Legendary Entertainment. 

No word on when “Drops of God” will fall on Apple TV+. 

Today on The Mac Observer’s Daily Observations Podcast

It is said that to know that you do not know is the beginning of wisdom. I know that I don’t know about the hardware keys Apple is now supporting across its devices. So, I reached out to someone who does. We’ll get a crash course from real-life info-sec guy Duane Waddle — today on the Daily Observations Podcast from The Mac Observer.

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