Apple Updates Roundup: iOS 14.2, Catalina Emergency Patches, Apple TV 14.2, HomePod 14.2, and more

Apple has released its first round of updates to iOS 14, Watch OS 7, and tvOS 14, along with patches for Catalina, Mojave, and High Sierra. 

iOS: Emojis, Wallpapers, Accessibility, and HomePod improvements

This major update to iOS 14 adds a surprising number of features. First, if you want to express yourself further, iOS includes over 100 new emoji and 8 new wallpapers that are optimized for light and dark mode. I like several of them, including some of the illustrated ones, though I found the illustrated ones personally looked better in light mode than dark, but there’s not a good way to select only the light mode one option while in dark mode.

The new Control Center audio widget

iPhone 12 got some love, as the LiDAR sensor on the back of the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max can now be used to detect people nearby and report their distance. If you’re not trying to be a secret agent, this is especially a useful feature for those with vision impairments and shows further commitment to improving accessibility. The Leather MagSafe sleeve now has support as well.

Audio also got a lot of focus in the form of AirPods and HomePod. We’ll cover HomePod further in its own section, but suffice to say a number of the features announced in their last announcement have been brought to iOS 14 including Intercom support and connecting HomePods to Apple TV 4K for various stereo options. The AirPods got some battery optimizations and will notify you if the audio playing through them is loud enough to damage your hearing. Also the audio widget on the lock screen and control center got some style revisions that make the buttons and album art appear larger.

There are a number of other features and bug fixes, so I encourage you to read the full patch notes below:

iOS 14.2 includes the following improvements for your iPhone:

  • Over 100 new emoji, including animals, food, faces, household objects, musical instruments, gender-inclusive emoji, and more
  • Eight new wallpapers in both light and dark mode versions
  • Magnifier can detect people nearby, and report their distance using the LiDAR sensor included in iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • Support for iPhone 12 Leather Sleeve with MagSafe
  • Optimized battery charging for AirPods to slow the rate of battery aging by reducing the time your AirPods spends fully charged
  • Headphone audio level notifications to alert you when audio level could impact your hearing
  • New AirPlay controls to stream entertainment throughout your home
  • Intercom support with HomePod and HomePod mini using iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods, and CarPlay
  • Ability to connect HomePod to Apple TV 4K for stereo, surround sound, and Dolby Atmos audio
  • Option to provide statistics about Exposure Notifications, without identifying you, to participating Public Health Authorities

This release also fixes the following issues:

  • Apps could be out of order on the Home Screen dock
  • Camera viewfinder may appear black when launched
  • The keyboard on the Lock Screen could miss touches when trying to enter the passcode
  • Reminders could default to times in the past
  • Photos widget may not display content
  • Weather widget could display the high temperature in Celsius when set to Fahrenheit
  • Next-hour precipitation chart description in Weather could incorrectly indicate when precipitation stops
  • Voice Memos recordings are interrupted by incoming calls
  • The screen could be black during Netflix video playback
  • Apple Cash could fail to send or receive money when asked via Siri
  • Apple Watch app may unexpectedly close when opened
  • Workout GPS routes or Health data are prevented from syncing between Apple Watch and iPhone for some users
  • Audio is incorrectly labeled as “Not Playing” in the CarPlay Dashboard
  • Devices could be prevented from charging wirelessly
  • Exposure Notifications is disabled when restoring iPhone from iCloud Backup or transferring data to a new iPhone using iPhone Migration

For information on the security content of Apple software updates, please visit this website:
https://support.apple.com/kb/HT201222

Mac: Update Now if you’re running Catalina

The Update screen showing the 10.15.7 Update and the details about it.

The update only applies to Catalina, and not to earlier versions of Mac OS. The patch notes don’t say anything, but if you’re looking at the security notes for the patch, Apple notes this update fixes 2 kernel vulnerabilities and one font handling vulnerability, all 3 of which Apple says are being exploited in the wild. If you’re running Catalina, go ahead and update this this revision of 10.15.7

macOS Catalina 10.15.7 Supplemental Update –– Restart Required

macOS Catalina 10.15.7 Supplemental Update is recommended for all users and improves the security of macOS.

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

Apple Watch:  Health and bug fixes

The 7.1 update for the Watch is mostly focused on health features, though also a couple notable bug fixes.

Korean and Russian Watch users will now have access to the ECG and irregular heart rhythm notifications. Your Watch can notify you now, much like your iOS device, when your headphone volume is too loud.

As for bug fixes, the 2 major ones called out are one making unlocking your Mac via the Watch more reliable and another that fixes an issue with the screen being dark for users of the most recent Apple Watch.

Full patch notes are below.

watchOS 7.1 contains new features, improvements, and bug fixes.

  • Adds the ability to be notified when your headphone audio level could impact your hearing
  • Adds support for the ECG app on Apple Watch Series 4 or later in the Republic of Korea and Russia
  • Adds support for irregular heart rhythm notifications in the Republic of Korea and Russia
  • Resolves an issue that prevented some users from unlocking a Mac with Apple Watch
  • Fixes an issue where the screen may be dark on wrist raise for some Apple Watch Series 6 owners
    For information on the security content of Apple software updates, please visit this website: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201222

Apple TV: Bug Fixes

There isn’t really much to cover here, as usual. Apple just says this is a bug fix update but doesn’t provide any information about what bugs these might be at this time. Likewise there are no security patches listed in this update. For now, we just have to trust the Apple TV is a little more stable.

HomePod:

In anticipation of the release of the HomePod Mini, Apple released 14.2. This adds the Intercomm feature, allowing you to announce and broadcast message from one Apple device across all your Apple devices. The “What’s My Update” feature was released, adding the ability for Siri to read out your appointments from your calendar, remind you of things on your Reminders list, read the news, and give you traffic info. This worked well in my testing, though for some reason it only read the first appointment on my list. I’m not sure if that was a hiccup, it only reading the first appointment for brevity, or if its because the other appointments on my calendar were syncing via O365 rather than iCloud. Lastly, this update improved the HomePod’s connection to Apple TV 4K, allowing you to use the HomePod not just as a single or double speaker, but also as surround sound and part of Dolby Atmos audio.

Patch notes are below:

  • Software version 14.2 includes support for new ‌Siri‌, Intercom, and Home Theater features. This update also includes bug fixes and improvements.
  • Ask ‌Siri‌ “What’s my update?” to hear a personal snapshot of your day that includes the news, weather, traffic, reminders, and calendar appointments.
  • Intercom using ‌iPhone‌, ‌iPad‌, Apple Watch, ‌AirPods‌, and ‌CarPlay‌.
  • Connect ‌HomePod‌ to ‌Apple TV‌ 4K and enjoy stereo, surround sound, and Dolby Atmos audio. Add a second ‌HomePod‌ for a more immersive soundstage.

Older Systems:

iOS 12 gets updated to 12.4.9 with the relevant security updates that iOS 14 gets, though it’s interesting that Apple 1) didn’t include any security updates for iOS 13 and 2) is supporting a 2 year old version of iOS. In coordination with that, Watch OS 6 was updated to 6.2.9 and OS 5 getting updated to 5.3.9. While these are just security and bug fixes, it perhaps means that Apple is trying to extend the lifespan of its products further. We’ll just have to wait and see.

All the Security fixes:

All of these update, excluding the HomePod, come with security patches. If you want the full list of updates I recommend you check out their Security Updates page. The only thing I’ll reiterate is if you’re on Mac OS Catalina, please update now to this new update to fix the zero-day flaws.

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