Apple Updates Roundup: iOS 14.3, Big Sur 11.1, Watch OS 7.2, Apple TV 14.3, and more

We’ve got a slew of updates to cover today, so let’s get to them.

iOS: Lots of Health stuff, Privacy, App Clips arrive, and necessary bug fixes

The new App Privacy screen in iOS 14.3.  This screen show the tracking data collected and used by the Tetris app from N3TWORK Inc.
The new App Privacy screen in iOS 14.3

It should be noted up front that many of these new features are shared across both Mac OS and iOS. For example, both Mac OS and iOS introduce full support for the new AirPods Max over-the-ear headphones that Apple released. Continuing on the media front, both platforms will get access to an updated Apple TV app, which will make finding movies and TV shows easier, both from Apple’s “Originals” lineup as well as better results and suggestions when searching for things in the TV app’s search bar.

One last shared platform note is that both the iOS and Mac App Stores are getting the privacy disclosures. App Developers now have to disclose what data the apps and the developer are collecting and what can be linked back specifically to you. This is going to be a good step in helping people become aware of what they’re getting and giving up when installing and using an app.

Now we can get on to the iOS specific stuff, and let’s start off with Health. full support for the new Apple Fitness+ streaming service. The newest addition to Apple’s subscription service lineup, for $9.99/month or $80/year you get access to video workout courses, trainers, and recommendations for the fitness goals you have. You can also get a 3 month free trail with the purchase of a new Apple Watch. This service is only available in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.

Continuing with new health features, users can now better track lactation, indicate if they’re pregnant, and track contraceptive usage in the Health app. This should be really helpful for mothers, or those trying to track fertility or period cycles. And while the pregnancy option currently doesn’t do this, it could open the door for the Health app to adjust health metrics to accommodate for the pregnancy in the future. iOS 14 is also getting some cardio and ECG improvements in conjunction with the Watch, but we’ll talk more about that later.

Now moving onto Photos. The AppleRAW format has arrived! iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max users can now take their photos in the Apple ProRAW format, as well as selecting the HEIC or compatibility options. Note that these photos will be larger than regular photos taken, Apple estimating that each one taken will be 25 MB. Even though the ability to capture photos like this will only come to the iPhone 12 Pros, anyone running iOS 14.3 or Big Sur 11.1 will be able to edit Photos taken in the AppleRAW format in the native Photos app.

iPhone users will also find they now have the feature to mirror their front-facing camera from the iPhone 6S up to the iPhone X. When enabled it means a selfie taken won’t be flipped horizontally to reflect reality and instead show a photo that is the same as what you see when you take it. Not a new idea to be sure, but one that’s good to finally be added to the native app.

There are a few other features, such as the eco-friendly Ecosia being added to Safari search, as well air quality now being shown in Apple Services in China, as well as warning available in the Weather app and Siri for the U.S., Mexico, U.K., Germany, and India.

There are also a slew of bug fixes, such as more fixes for MMS messages not being consistently received and notifications failing to appear for some text messages (something I can definitely confirm was a problem for me that now seems to have gone away. There also some fixes for wireless charging and Bluetooth issues.

Full Patch notes can be found below:

iOS 14.3 includes support for Apple Fitness+ and AirPods Max. This release also adds the ability to capture photos in Apple ProRAW on iPhone 12 Pro, introduces Privacy information on the App Store, and includes other features and bug fixes for your iPhone.

Apple Fitness+

  • A new fitness experience powered by Apple Watch with studio-style workouts available on your iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV (Apple Watch Series 3 and later)
  • New Fitness app on iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV to browse Fitness+ workouts, trainers, and personalized recommendations
  • Video workouts added each week in ten popular workout types: High Intensity Interval Training, Indoor Cycling, Yoga, Core, Strength, Dance, Rowing, Treadmill Walking, Treadmill Running, and Mindful Cooldown
  • Playlists curated by Fitness+ trainers to complement your workout
  • Fitness+ subscription available in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and United States

AirPods Max

  • Support for AirPods Max, new over-ear headphones
  • High fidelity audio for rich sound
  • Adaptive EQ adapts sound in real time to the personal fit of ear cushions
  • Active Noise Cancellation to block out environmental noise
  • Transparency mode to hear the environment around you
  • Spatial audio with dynamic head tracking for a theater-like listening experience

Photos

  • Apple ProRAW photos can be captured on iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • Apple ProRAW photos can be edited in the Photos app
  • Option to record video at 25 fps
  • Mirror the front facing camera for still photos on iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X

Privacy

  • New privacy information section on App Store pages that includes a developer-reported summary of the app’s privacy practices

TV app

  • An all-new Apple TV+ tab makes it easy to discover and watch Apple Original shows and movies
  • Enhanced search so you can browse by category such as genre, and see recent searches and suggestions as you type
  • Top search results shown with the most relevant matches across movies, TV shows, cast, channels, and sports

App Clips

  • Support for launching App Clips by scanning Apple-designed App Clip Codes via Camera or from Control Center

Health

  • Ability to indicate pregnancy, lactation, or contraceptive use in Cycle Tracking in the Health app in order to better manage period and fertile window predictions

Weather

  • Air quality data is now available in Weather, Maps, and Siri for locations in China mainland
  • Air quality health recommendations are provided in Weather and Siri for the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, India, and Mexico at certain air quality levels

Safari

  • Ecosia search engine option in Safari

This release also addresses the following issues:

  • Some MMS messages may not be received
  • Some Messages notifications may not be received
  • Contact groups failed to display members when composing a message
  • Some videos would not appear correctly when shared from the Photos app
  • App folders may fail to open
  • Spotlight search results, and opening apps from Spotlight may not work
  • Bluetooth could be unavailable in Settings
  • Devices could be prevented from charging wirelessly
  • MagSafe Duo Charger could wirelessly charge your iPhone at less than the maximum power
  • Wireless accessories and peripherals using the WAC protocol could fail to complete setup
  • The keyboard would dismiss when adding a list in Reminders while using VoiceOver

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: Big Sur’s First Big Update

A picture of the new Privacy screen in the Mac OS 11.1. In this case the app says "Data not collected: This developer does not collect any data from this app".  This is from the developer Ian Page and his Mactracker app.
The Data Privacy Screen in Big Sur 11.1

Big Sur has received its first big update to 11.1 and… honestly got a lot of the same features as iOS 11, keeping them in parity. Many of these features, such as AirPods Max support, updated Apple TV app, and more you can read about in the iOS section above.

There are some unique things to Big Sur though, some particularly for M1 Macs.

If you are an Apple Arcade subscriber, you’ll be able to have an in-game dashboard with recommendations for new Arcade games to play based off similar games.

The Apple News widgets are coming to Big Surs notification center, much like how they exist on iOS 14.

If you are running a new M1 Mac, and you’re using iOS apps on the Mac, you’ll appreciate this feature. You’ll now have the option to switch the app into a portrait or landscape mode. Likewise you’ll now be able to force apps to run in fullscreen mode, which helps because some apps like HBO Max would only run in a windowed mode, even if you used the app’s built-in fullscreen button while watching a video. M1 users will also find some quality fixes when being used with the LG UltraFine monitor.

One last note if you are running Mac OS Server on Big Sur, there is a security update specifically for that, so make sure you update that as well.

Admittedly, a lot of the stuff is just feature parity with iOS, and the rest are some bug fixes. But it’s good to see Apple keeping everything in line.

Full patch notes are below:

macOS Big Sur 11.1 Update 11.1 — Restart Required

macOS Big Sur 11.1 introduces support for AirPods Max, TV app enhancements, Apple News widgets, and privacy information on the App Store. This release also includes bug fixes for your Mac.

AirPods Max

  • Support for AirPods Max, new over-ear headphones
  • High fidelity audio for rich sound
  • Adaptive EQ adapts sound in real time to the personal fit of ear cushions
  • Active Noise Cancellation to block out environmental noise
  • Transparency mode to hear the environment around you
  • Spatial audio with dynamic head tracking for a theater-like listening experience

Apple TV

  • An all-new Apple TV+ tab makes it easy to discover and watch Apple Original shows and movies
  • Enhanced search so you can browse by category such as genre and see recent searches and suggestions as you type
  • Top search results shown with the most relevant matches across movies, TV shows, cast, channels, and sports

Apple News

  • Apple News widgets are now available in Notification Center

App Store

  • New privacy information section on App Store pages that includes a developer-reported summary of the app’s privacy practices
  • In-game dashboard within Arcade games recommends new Arcade games to play

iPhone and iPad apps on Macs with M1

  • New window options for iPhone and iPad apps let you switch between landscape and portrait orientations or expand a window to fill the entire screen

Photos

  • Apple ProRAW photos can be edited in the Photos app

Safari

  • Ecosia search engine option in Safari

Air Quality

  • Available in Maps and Siri for locations in China mainland
  • Health recommendations are provided in Siri for the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, India, and Mexico at certain air quality levels

This release also addresses the following issues:

  • QuickTime Player might quit when opening a movie with a timecode track after upgrading from macOS Catalina
  • Bluetooth connection status was not displayed in Control Center
  • Reliability of unlocking your Mac automatically with your Apple Watch
  • Trackpad scrolling speed may be faster than expected on MacBook Pro models
  • LG UltraFine 5K Display may incorrectly display at 4K resolution on Macs with M1

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/HT211896. For detailed information about the security content of this update, please visit: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT201222

Apple Watch:  Even more health and Braille

The new Cardio Fitness Screen in the Health app.  It has a heart in four horizontal lines indicating the four levels of cardio health.
The new Cardio Fitness Screen in the Health app.

The Apple Watch also got the new Apple Fitness+ features as described in the iOS section. But even if you’re not planning to subscribe to the service, you’re still getting some bonuses too.

For one, Apple Watches with the ECG/EKG function will now have access to testing for conditions like atrial fibrillation for heart rates above 100 BPM or below 50 BPM, as well as inconsistent readings, and more. You’ll also be able to review your cardio fitness level based on your age and sex in conjunction with the Health app, which it measures using your VO2 Max that the Watch can measure. If your cardio fitness level is considered low for your demographic, then you can be notified of it. Fortunately Apple says this notification will be limited to every four months, so if you are in the category you won’t be notified of your condition every single day. The ECG function is now opened up to users in Taiwan.

One minor note that wasn’t covered in the Patch notes is that new Handwashing features seems to have a stronger 3-part tap by default to let you know you’re done, and the text has changed from being bubbly to a white, and much more readable, font.

VoiceOver on Apple Watch will now also be supporting Braille displays, and the Family Setup options for Watches now are coming to more countries: Bahrain, Canada, Norway, and Spain.

The full patches notes are below.

watchOS 7.2 includes new features and improvements, including Apple Fitness+, a personalized fitness experience powered by Apple Watch. Additional features include low cardio fitness notifications and support for braille displays. This update also contains performance improvements.

Apple Fitness+

  • A new fitness experience powered by Apple Watch with studio-style workouts available on your iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV
  • Video workouts added each week in ten popular workout types: High Intensity Interval Training, Indoor Cycling, Yoga, Core, Strength, Dance, Rowing, Treadmill Walking, Treadmill Running, and Mindful Cooldown
  • Fitness+ subscription available in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and United States

This update also includes the following features and improvements:

  • Option to be notified when your cardio fitness is at a low level
  • Ability to review your cardio fitness level based on your age and sex in the Health app on iPhone
  • Atrial fibrillation classification at heart rates above 100 BPM now offered in the ECG app in most regions where the app is available
  • Support for the ECG app on Apple Watch Series 4 or later in Taiwan
  • Support for braille displays with VoiceOver
  • Support for Family Setup in Bahrain, Canada, Norway, and Spain (Cellular models of Apple Watch Series 4 or later and Apple Watch SE)

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

Apple TV: Bug Fixes

As usual, Apple is pretty mum on what’s new in the Apple TV updates. We do know that Apple Fitness+ is now available on Apple TV boxes, along with the usual bug and security fixes.

HomePod: More of the Same

Like Apple TV, Apple tends to be pretty quiet about updates if there aren’t any major features, though this is the first update for the HomePod Mini as well as the original HomePod. What’s also interesting about this update is the update to 14.3 comes right on the heels of the 14.2.1 update that Apple recently deployed, which may have been an emergency patch. I don’t have any info on this at the moment. Either way, if you have a HomePod you should probably go grab the update.

Older Systems:

iOS 12 gets updated to 12.5 with the relevant security updates that iOS 14 gets for the iPhone 5S and 6 lines, the iPod Touch, the older iPad Air, and iPad Mini 3. Once again it’s interesting that Apple is choosing to update that and not iOS 13. Perhaps iOS 13 is stable enough and doesn’t need the updates, or perhaps Apple is pursuing a new strategy.

In coordination with that, Watch OS 6 was updated to 6.3, though OS 5 is not getting any updates like it has previously. Perhaps the updates to OS 5 were a one-off special things rather than the hope that Apple might expanding support for their products, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

All the Security fixes:

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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