Apple Releases Updates for iOS 13.3.1 and Mac 10.15.3, as well as for TV, Watch, and HomePod

Apple has released another round of updates to its various platforms.  This is primarily a bug-fix and security patch release, with not much in the way of new features.  That said, there are a few important things to cover.

iOS:  Privacy Enhancements and Mail improvements

The new iOS update comes with the most comments.  First, it fixes a bug in the Screen Time functionality that let users add a contact without needing the Screen Time passcode.  For example, a kid could add other kids in messaging without the parent’s Screen Time password and talk to them after the time limit had been reached.

The update also adds a setting to control the use of the location services by the U1 Ultra Wideband chip, This is found in the iPhone 11 to help the phone with more precise location tracking and locations awareness.  While a useful feature, it was found to allow location tracking even when such services had been turned off.  This setting allows you to turn off the feature so the phone can’t constantly monitor and use your location.  To access this setting, open the “Settings” and go to the “Privacy” section.  Then go to “Location Services”, and open the “System Services” and turn off the “Networking and Wireless” option.  While this will enhance your privacy, it will also limit your phone’s ability intelligently use and select your Bluetooth and Wifi connections.  You can re-enable the feature at anytime by going back and reenabling “Networking and Wireless”.

The last major change it that it also fixes 2 issues in the Mail app.  One that would cause the app to load Remote Content despite having the setting disabled, and the other a bug that would throw multiple “Undo” prompts at a user.

The full list of changes is as follows:

  • Fixes an issue in Communication Limits that could allow a contact to be added without entering the Screen Time passcode.
  • Adds a setting to control the use of location services by the U1 Ultra Wideband chip.(iPhone only)
  • Addresses an issue that could cause a momentary delay before editing a Deep Fusion photo taken on ‌iPhone 11‌ or iPhone 11 Pro. (iPhone only)
  • Resolves an issue with Mail that could cause remote images to load even when the “Load Remote Images” setting is disabled.
  • Fixes an issue that could cause multiple undo dialogs to appear in Mail.
  • Addresses an issue where FaceTime could use the rear facing ultra-wide camera instead of the wide camera.
  • Resolves an issue where push notifications could fail to be delivered over Wi-Fi.
  • Addresses a CarPlay issue that could cause distorted sound when making phone calls in certain vehicles. (iPhone only)
  • Introduces support for Indian English Siri voices for HomePod. (iPhone and HomePod only)


Mac: Pro Level Fixes

The Mac saw even fewer major fixes, mainly being a fix for the Mac handling of color levels on Apple’s own Pro Display XDR monitor, as well as a specific fix for the HEVC and H.264 video codecs on the new 16-inch MacBook Pro.  These are both tailored at the high-end users’ workflows.

The full changelog is as follows:

  • Optimizes gamma handling of low gray levels on Pro Display XDR for SDR workflows when using macOS
  • Improves multi-stream video editing performance for HEVC and H.264 encoded 4K video on the 16-inch MacBook Pro (2019)


HomePod: A New Voice

Really the only major change on the HomePod, as mentioned in the iOS update, is the addition of the “Indian English” voice as an option in Siri.  The full changelog is as follows.

  • iOS 13.3.1 introduces support for Indian English Siri voices for HomePod, and includes general improvements for stability and quality.


Apple TV and Apple Watch: Bug and Security Fixes

There isn’t really much to cover here, this is primarily to fix a number of security flaws found, most of which are shared with iOS and macOS.  Apple tvOS updates to 13.3.1 with WatchOS updating to 6.1.2.

Older Systems:

Apple has also shown some love to some of its older systems.

On the Mac side, Apple updated OS 10.14 “Mojave” and 10.13 “High Sierra” with Security Patch 2020-01, which basically includes all the shared security fixes going into OS 10.15 Catalina.  They also updated Safari to 13.0.5 to match that version of Safari in Catalina.

What’s also interesting is that Apple also updated iOS 12 to version 12.4.5.  While this one doesn’t seem to have any listed security patches on Apple’s website, it likely does fix some as well as some other bugs.  Either way, it seems to be showing Apple’s commitment to keeping its older devices running for longer and keeping those devices that can’t run the latest and greatest secure from the same threats.  I hope to see this trend continue into the future, and maybe extend to 2 versions prior of support in the same way that Apple does with the Mac.

All the Security fixes:

Apple fixed a lot of security problems in its latest round of updates, far too many to cover, so if you want the full list of updates I recommend you check out their Security Updates page.

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