Updates of All Sorts

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A day for all sorts of updates, prepping iPhone for third-party app stores, and Travelin’ Tim’s Tweetin’ his travels.

A Big Day of OS Updates for Apple Gear

Apple fired up the update machine Tuesday. The Mac Observer had the Cupertino-company updating the operating systems on just about everything it makes. Hitting some of the top-line features:

iOS and iPadOS 16.2 bring the new Freeform collaboration app to compatible iPhone and iPads, Apple Music Sing, Advanced Data Protection for iCloud, Lock Screen improvements, and some secret under-the-hood stuff, as well as not so secret security stuff. This is also the update that ratchets AirDrop for “Everyone” down from however long you want to 10-minutes at a time.

Worth noting — security isn’t just for Apple’s latest and greatest. A check of Apple’s security page had the company releasing iOS 15.7.2 and iPadOS 15.7.2, handling security issues for iPhones as far back as iPhone 6s, any iPad Pros that haven’t made the move to iPadOS 16, iPad Air 2 and later, the fifth-gen iPad and later, the fourth-gen iPad mini and later, and — bless its silicon heart — the seventh-gen iPod touch.

Back to the more recent devices, watchOS 9.2 also brings Freeform. And I’m kidding. Can you imagine working on a limitless whiteboard through a window the size of a postage stamp? It actually includes Race Route and a custom Kickboxing algorithm in the Workout app. TMO says the update also brings “improvements to Crash Detection and support for the Noise app with AirPods Pro and AirPods Max.” Meanwhile, a piece from 9to5Mac says “Apple Watch Ultra gains battery improvement with watchOS 9.2,” as well as Multisport workouts. All of that and security fixes are waiting for your wrist.

Updates For Your Mac and More

macOS Ventura 13.1 has made the scene. It includes the new Freeform app — not kidding this time, as well as end-to-end encryption for an expanded amount of iCloud data. While the TMO piece lists that among the Mac features, it’s an iCloud thing, making it applicable to other devices as well. If you’d like to know more about it, I talked about it last week on Mac OS Ken, I wrote it up for last Thursday’s Observation Deck on TMO, I talked about it more in depth on Checklist No. 306 by SecureMac: Safety Features on the Way and Features You’re Not Using, and we talked about it on The Mac Observer’s Daily Observations Podcast.

Back to the Mac specifically, macOS 13.1 does bring security fixes. Apple also brings security fixes for Macs that have not or cannot make the move to Ventura. Those come in the forms of macOS Big Sur 11.7.2 and macOS Monterey 12.6.2

The update tour continues on the sound + vision fronts. The Mac Observer says Apple on Tuesday released tvOS 16.2 as well as version 16.2 of the OS for HomePod and HomePod mini. “On Apple TV,” the piece says, “the update includes multi-user voice recognition for Siri and the Apple Music Sing karaoke experience.” That update comes with security fixes as well. For the HomePod versions, Apple’s release note says, “Software version 16.2 includes general performance and stability improvements.”

All of those updates are free. Each is available in the usual way or ways.

Emergency SOS via Satellite Goes Live in UK and Parts of Europe

A potentially lifesaving feature for folks in the U.K. and parts of Europe. Another piece from The Mac Observer says Apple’s Emergency SOS via satellite for models of iPhone 14 has gone live in France, Germany, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. 

Announced along with the iPhone 14 line back in September, Emergency SOS via satellite lets users connect to emergency services when needed when the users cannot get a connection through cellular or Wifi. Apple says the service will also let users “reassure friends and family of their whereabouts while traveling in an area with no cellular or Wi-Fi coverage” by sharing their location via satellite trough the Find My app. 

Emergency SOS via satellite is free for the first two-years, starting when a unit in the iPhone 14 line is activated. No word yet on how much it’ll cost once it starts costing.

Tesla ‘Holiday Update’ Brings Support for Apple Music

News of an Apple related update on Tuesday, though not an update from Apple. The website Electrek says carmaker Tesla has pushed out a “holiday update” to babies who can drive their cars. “Every year around the holidays,” the piece says, “Tesla is known to push a bigger software update with some features that are generally more about fun than being functional.” This year, those include Mahjong, and support for Apple Music. 

The world saw hints of such support on the way at a museum exhibit last month. Now, Electrek says, support is available, though Tesla’s release notes say, “A Premium Connectivity subscription is required to stream Apple Music over a cellular connection.”

Best Buy ‘Upgrade Plus’ Plan Now Includes Some Mac Desktops

News of another Apple-related update — this one tied to a specific service. A piece from CNET says Best Buy has expanded its “Upgrade Plus” program. Originally focused on MacBooks, the piece says the expanded service, which “helps people finance Apple computers over 36 months and then upgrade,” now includes iMac and Mac Studio desktops. 

Bloomberg: iOS 17 May Open iPhone/iPad to Sideloading in EU

The biggest update for iPhone since the App Store’s introduction may hit as early as next year. The Mac Observer highlights a Bloomberg report, saying:

Apple is planning to allow third-party app stores on the iPhone and iPad in Europe. The move comes after legislation passed that will ultimately require the Cupertino-based tech giant to support side-loading [installing iPhone and iPad apps from sources besides the App Store]. 

While the EU’s Digital Markets Act won’t actually require such support until March 2024, sources tell Bloomberg that the functionality “is expected to be ready for iOS 17…” That would likely hit in the fall of 2023, roughly six-months ahead of the EU deadline. 

Big if true for EU countries, though — as it stands now — it’ll be business as it has been everywhere else. While other countries, including the US, are said to be considering similar legislation, the piece says the provision is currently set for EU nations only. 

Travelin’ Tim’s Tweetin’ Across Japan

Travelin’ Tim’s Tweetin’ up a storm from Japan. Well… four Tweets in the last 24-hours, but that’s a lot for Apple CEO Tim Cook.

One Twitter post had the CEO singing the praises of video games and video game maker @Konami. And hey — did you know Konami has games in the App Store and Apple Arcade? 

Another Twitter post had Tweetin’ Tim applauding the classical musician Cocomi and thanking her for an amazing performance at Apple Omotesando. I wonder if she’s on Primephonic

The next Twitter post had Apple’s CEO thanking the artist VERDY “for sharing the creative process behind [their] iconic designs…”

And rounding out the fabulous four — a Twitter post praising the teams at Apple’s technology center in Yokohama and their range of work, “from pioneering new optical coating technologies for iPhone to supporting our customers across Japan.”

Where to next? Tune in tomorrow.

Apple TV+ Series ‘The Reluctant Traveler’ Gets a Premier Date

Speaking of traveling, News of a premier date for an Apple TV+ series. AppleInsider says Eugene Levy’s The Reluctant Traveler is set to premier in a couple of months. If this one’s passed you by, the piece says:

Levy, not known for being adventurous and not necessarily the first choice for a travel show host, will broaden his horizons by visiting a number of locations around the world.

Yeah — he’s a comic actor. While this show will likely be humorous, it’s a travel show. Points on the show’s map will include Costa Rica, Finland, Italy, Japan, the Maldives, Portugal, South Africa, and the US. Eight episodes in the only season announced so far. The Reluctant Traveler makes its way to Apple TV+ on Friday, Feb. 24. 

Close Your Rings for Seven-Days Straight for Apple Watch New Year’s Activity Challenge

And finally today, while Christmas is still over a week away, it is never to early to think about the pounds you’re putting on with the cakes and candies and — do you know there is actually a Christmas pudding in this house? 

Anyway — you can start thinking about working off the added weight with the next Apple Watch activity challenge. Sounds like this one’s kind of a rerun. MacRumors says the New Year’s Activity Challenge calls for participants to close all three of their rings for seven days in a row at any point in January.

Not bragging, but I did that for the first seven days of the year this year. Ended up doing it for about 100-days in a row. Then I got a shot that put me on my backside for a couple of days and that was the end of that. Still — the seven-day challenge can start a good habit. 

Do it and you’ll get a virtual medallion and a bunch of digital stickers to stick on Apple apps. You also get healthier. Look for Apple to pop the New Year’s Activity Challenge to your watch sometime before year’s end.

Today on The Mac Observer’s Daily Observations Podcast

Last week, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman said that Apple has way scaled back its automotive plans. Sorry, future boy — you’ll still have pedals and a steering wheel. Having heard talk of AppleCar for close to a decade now, I was curious what people from the automotive side made of it. To that end, I had a great talk with tech and automotive journalist Roberto Baldwin — you can hear that today on the Daily Observations Podcast from The Mac Observer.

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