Apple Updates Roundup: iOS 14.6, Big Sur 11.4, Watch OS 7.5, and more

Not so long after the big round of feature updates, Apple has pushed out another point upgrade to its various platforms. These are nowhere near as big in terms of features as the previous one, but there’s still plenty to talk about.

iOS: Apple Card Family introduced, Podcasts, AirTags, and Accessibility get improvements

iOS comes with a number of refinements this time around to its existing or newest systems, as well as introducing Apple Card Family.

Let’s start with that one. Announced at the Spring Loaded event, your Apple Card can now be shared with up to 5 people in your family provided they’re at least 13 years old. The owner of the card can still track expenses, set spending limits and controls, and share credit benefits with those in their Family, such as their spouse. Apple provided the example of one person having a better interest rate while the other had a higher credit limit, so merging the accounts would bring the best of both of these together.

The big Podcasts update now allows you to “Subscribe” to a show or channel. If you’re confused because you could do that before, let me explain. The old “Subscribe” feature is now called follow, and is still completely free for anyone to use. The new “Subscribe” feature will allow listeners to pay a regular amount to the podcast in exchange for things like early access to episodes, behind the scenes extras, and other goodies. These seems to be Apple trying to get ahead of (or some would argue, catch up) the Podcast boon recently with outlets like Spotify and Pandora bringing in podcasts into their services, sometimes with exclusivity, and provided podcasters with money or additional income streams in exchange.

If you’re using AirTags or other devices compatible with the FindMy network, you now can show your email address rather than your phone number if you’d prefer to not give that out to any stranger. AirTag users, should they decide to show their phone number, will be able to show a masked version of their number when tapped on by another phone or computer with NFC.

Lastly, iOS users will now be able to use Voice Control to unlock their phones after a restart. That last part is key, as you could unlock your phone with VO after the first unlock, but not before that first unlock post reboot (similar to the way you can’t use Face or Touch ID after your device’s reboot. This is a boon to those needing accessibility, as Apple has already announced some new Accessibility features for iOS and Watch users in another round of updates (hopefully iOS 14.7 and Watch 7.6). Until then, we can hopefully count this as the start.

Full patch notes can be found below:

Apple Card Family

  • Apple Card can be shared with up to five people, including anyone 13 years or older in your Family Sharing group
  • Apple Card Family adds support for families to track expenses, manage spending with optional limits and controls, and build credit together

Podcasts

  • Subscription support for channels and individual shows

AirTag and Find My

  • Lost mode option to add an email address instead of a phone number for AirTag and Find My network accessories
  • AirTag will show the partially masked phone number of the owner when tapped with an NFC-capable device

Accessibility

  • Voice Control users can unlock their iPhone for the first time after a restart using only their voice

This release also fixes the following issues:

  • Unlock with Apple Watch may not work after using Lock iPhone on Apple Watch
  • Reminders may appear as blank lines
  • Call blocking extensions may not appear in Settings
  • Bluetooth devices could sometimes disconnect or send audio to a different device during an active call
  • iPhone may experience reduced performance during startup

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

Mac: Podcasts and ….Civilization VI?

So this update doesn’t have much in terms of new features, mainly the addition of the new Podcasts feature much like in iOS. However, the bug fixes are rather interesting. There are some fixes for Safari bookmarks and caching, a correction to keyword exporting, and a fix for Preview’s search. But what’s also interesting is Big Sur 11.4 calls out a fix specifically for those who play Civilization VI on the 16-inch MacBook Pro where the Mac may become unresponsive. Apparently some people at Apple are either very into the tactics game or very responsive to the community. Either way, you all are getting a fix for it.

Full patches notes can be found below:

macOS Big Sur 11.4 adds Apple Podcasts subscriptions and channels and includes important bug fixes.

Podcasts

  • Apple Podcasts subscriptions are available for purchase via monthly and annual subscriptions
  • Channels group together collections of shows from podcast creators

This release also fixes the following issues:

  • Bookmarks in Safari may get reordered or moved into a folder that can appear hidden
  • Certain websites may not display correctly after your Mac wakes from sleep
  • Keywords may not be included when exporting a photo from the Photos app
  • Preview may become unresponsive when searching PDF documents
  • 16-inch MacBook may become unresponsive when playing Civilization VI

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: Following iOS’s Lead and more countries get heart features

Watch OS is getting the same Podcast subscriptions features and Apple Card Family support in line with iOS 14.6.

If you are a Malaysian or Peruvian users of Apple Watch, you’ll be happy to know that you have the ability to use the ECG and irregular heart rhythm notification functions of the Apple Watch if you’re using the Series 4 or newer Watches.

Full Patch notes are below:

watchOS 7.5 includes new features, improvements, and bug fixes:

  • Access to subscription content in the Podcasts app
  • Apple Card allows members to track expenses, manage spending, and build credit together with a Family Sharing group
  • Support for the ECG app on Apple Watch Series 4 or later in Malaysia and Peru
  • Support for irregular heart rhythm notifications in Malaysia and Peru

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

Apple TV: Possibly Apple Music?

Apple has returned to tradition with no major new features to the Apple TV, just the continued round of bug fixes and security updates. It’s worth noting the announcement of lossless music in Apple Music said it would be compatible with Apple TV’s running 14.6, so it’s likely that’s one feature here that won’t be highlighted much until that feature is actually released.

Other Systems:

If you’re using a HomePod, there is a batch of security updates to 14.6, though nothing much new in the feature realm. Like the Apple TV, though, Apple said the HomePods will be able to play the lossless codec coming to Apple Music if they’re running at least 14.6, so perhaps this is part of that.

It’s also worth noting that there are no updates for iOS 13 or 12 in this batch of updates. Perhaps at the moment those are stable enough or don’t have the security flaws that the newer OS’s have due to the newer features. We’ll have to wait and see for now. Catalina and Mojave users received similar security patches to Big Sur, as well as to Safari 14.2.

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