Apple Updates Roundup: iOS 13.6, WatchOS 6.2.8, macOS 10.15.6, and more

Apple has released another round of updates to its various platforms.  Along with its regular round of bug fixes and security patches, the updates are a little lighter this time, but does add more content to more Apple News and introduces the CarKey features Apple talked about at WWDC.

iOS: Apple News Local and Audio stories, CarKey, and Health

A lot of the updates focus on Apple News, particularly in the realm of audio. Apple has added an Audio tab in Apple News now, where you can get professionally narrated news stories from your favorite news vendors, and selected by Apple News Editors. You will need an Apple News+ subscription though. However if you’re a free Apple News user or a paying subscriber, you can now get the new audio briefing on the top stories either in the News App or in the Podcasts app. Think of it like the News briefings you can get from Siri or Alexa, or from a particular news source, just done more by Apple. Both the free news briefing and Audio stories will be accessible in CarPlay

New option to personalize the daily newsletter on iPhone
New option to personalize the daily newsletter

One important part of news is local news, especially down to the city level. If you’re paying for Apple News+, you’ll start getting more stories from your local sources. Both free and paid members in the cities of New York, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and the Bay Area will start getting more local stories.

Lastly on the News front, the daily email newsletter with the top headlines can now be customized to show more news stories Apple News thinks you’ll be interested, rather than just more interesting stories. The next time you open Apple News you’ll be prompted with this option, but you can choose to not enable personalization of the newsletter.

CarKey is now in iOS 13.6. This was a feature Apple showed off coming in iOS 14, but did announce it would be backported to iOS 13 users, and now we’re seeing it. While you’ll still need a compatible car, you can generate a Bluetooth or NFC key that you can use to lock, unlock, or start your car. You can even share that key with others through iMessage, with or without certain limitations, and even remove those digital keys either from other users or lost devices.

Lastly, the Health app is adding some new symptom tracking features. Most of these are tailored to either period cycle tracking or ECG, and are meant to help you write down and track symptoms if you’re concerned and want to share them with your health professional. More generally though Apple did allow you to share more basic symptoms like chills, coughing, etc. with third party apps. If shared wisely, in this age where telemedicine is more important than ever, this could be a good way to get more information to your doctor sooner and have a log of when and what happened.

Full release notes are as follows below:

iOS 13.6 adds support for digital car keys, introduces audio stories in Apple News+, and contains a new symptoms category in the Health app. This release also includes bug fixes and improvements.

Digital car keys

  • Unlock, lock, and start your compatible car with your iPhone
  • Securely remove digital keys from a lost device via iCloud
  • Share digital keys easily with iMessage
  • Driver-specific profiles so you can configure shared keys for full-access or restricted driving
  • Power reserve lets you unlock and start your car for up to five hours after iPhone runs out of battery

Apple News

  • Audio stories are professionally narrated versions of some of the best reads from Apple News+, selected and produced by the Apple News editors as part of your Apple News+ subscription
  • Apple News Today is a new, free audio briefing on the day’s top stories from the Apple News editors, also available in the Podcasts app
  • A new Audio tab makes it easy to find Apple News Today and Apple News+ audio stories
  • CarPlay allows you to listen to Apple News Today and Apple News+ audio stories while on the road
  • Local news in your Today feed provides extensive coverage of San Francisco, the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Houston, and New York City
  • More stories available from local news providers with a subscription to Apple News+
  • Your daily newsletter from Apple News can now be personalized with stories that reflect your interests

Health

  • New category for symptoms in the Health app, including symptoms logged from Cycle Tracking and ECG
  • Ability to log new symptoms, like fever, chills, sore throat or coughing, and share them with third-party apps

This update also includes bug fixes and other improvements.

  • Adds a new setting to choose if updates automatically download to your device when on Wi-Fi
  • Addresses an issue that could cause apps to become unresponsive when syncing data from iCloud Drive
  • Fixes an issue that could cause data roaming to appear to be disabled on eSIM even though it remained active
  • Fixes an issue thats causes some phone calls from Saskatchewan to appear as originating from the United States
  • Addresses an issue that could interrupt audio when making phone calls over Wi-Fi Calling
  • Fixes an issue that prevented some iPhone 6S and iPhone SE devices from registering for Wi-Fi Calling
  • Resolves an issue that could cause the software keyboard to appear unexpectedly when connected to certain third-party hardware keyboards
  • Fixes an issue that could cause Japanese hardware keyboards to be incorrectly mapped as a U.S. keyboard
  • Addresses stability issues when accessing Control Center when AssistiveTouch was enabled
  • Provides a mechanism for administrators to specify domains to exclude from traffic carried by always-on VPN connections

Some features may not be available for all regions or on all Apple devices. For information on the security content of Apple software updates, please visit this website: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT201222

Mac: Apple News and Software fixes

Screenshot of successful update to 10.15.6

The Mac updates were pretty tame this time around, but also adds many of the same localized news personalization options as iOS. However the Audio tab and news stories aren’t currently an option at this time.

Otherwise the Mac gets some fixes for Macbooks with HDR displays to improve battery life, some fixes with USB input devices, and some enterprise specific functions as well.

Full changelog is as follow:

macOS Catalina 10.15.6 introduces local news in your Today feed in Apple News and improves the security and reliability of your Mac.

Apple News

  • Local news in your Today feed provides extensive coverage of San Francisco, the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Houston, and New York City
  • More stories available from local news providers with a subscription to Apple News+
  • Your daily newsletter from Apple News can now be personalized with stories that reflect your interests

This update also includes bug fixes and other improvements.

  • Adds a new option to optimize video streaming on HDR-compatible Mac notebooks for improved battery life
  • Fixes an issue where the computer name may change after installing a software update
  • Resolves an issue where certain USB mouse and trackpads may lose connection

Some features may not be available for all regions, or on all Apple devices.
For more detailed information about this update, please visit: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT210642
        
For detailed information about the security content of this update, please visit: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT201222

Apple Watch:  Health to Saudi Arabia and new Pride Watch Faces 

If you have the latest Series 5 Apple Watch as well as iOS 13.6 or 14, you’ll now have access to the digital car keys features mentioned earlier.

And much like last time Saudi Arabia got some new health features, Bahraini, Brazilian, or South African now get access to irregular heart rhythm notifications and the ECG app on their Series 4 or newer Apple Watches.

Full release notes are as follows:

  • Adds support for digital car keys for Apple Watch Series 5
  • ECG app on Apple Watch Series 4 or later now available in Bahrain, Brazil, and South Africa
  • Irregular heart rhythm notifications now available in Bahrain, Brazil, and South Africa

Some features may not be available for all regions or on all Apple devices. For information on the security content of Apple software updates, please visit this website: https://support.apple.com/HT201222

Apple TV and HomePod: 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 TV and HomePod updates to 13.4.8.

Older Systems:

Apple has continued to support some of its older systems.  Apple updated iOS 12 to version 12.4.8 and Watches running WatchOS 5 have been upgraded 5.3.8, both coming with their own bug fixes, though no noted security patches at this time. Macs running Mojave and High Sierra both got security fixes for their OS versions, as well as the updates to Safari 13.1.2  There are no updates to the previous generation Apple TV’s, they are still running 7.5 at the latest reports.

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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