Apple Updates Roundup: iOS/iPad OS 15.1, Watch OS 8.1, Monterey 12.0.1 and more

Apple has just released their latest round of updates, including the release of macOS 12 “Monterey”! This is also the first big feature update for Watch OS 8 and iPhone/iPad/Apple TV 15 to go along with it. The highlight feature of the bunch is SharePlay, but there are some other standout features as well.

MacOS Monterey 12.0.1

On Monday Apple released the last of their OS upgrades for the year with Monterey. If you want to check out the full details then I’d advise you check out the page detailing it’s announcement from WWDC 2021. However, one thing interesting to note is that some of the new MacBooks, particularly the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros just announced are coming with Monterey 12.0, while the public release today is for 12.0.1 (much like Big Sur last year). It seems there are a few security fixes coming down the pipe for those new machines that you should probably install as well if you’ve gotten one of those newer machines.

iOS 15.1: SharePlay, COVID Cards, ProRes, and more

A list of media companies and apps supporting SharePlay out of the gate including, but not limited to Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, and more.
SharePlay services already supported.

iOS, alongside Monterey, brings the most changes to the update lines. The headlining feature is SharePlay’s release. Starting with things like Netflix Party and expanding into services like Plex, Disney+, and HBO Max, we saw a rise in the pandemic of people watching movies together over the web in a chat or call and being able to control it together. Apple is adding that functionality in FaceTime, but also opening up an API so that both other chat app and media apps will be able to take advantage of this. It means we can see more services start to open up this feature and take advantage of it.

If you’ve got one of the new iPhone 13 Pro or Pro Max phones, you’ll now be able to use ProRes video, and disable automatic camera switching between the lenses. This has been a particular annoyance for people trying to shoot macro and the iPhone trying to be a help decide what lens you should use.

And if you’re living in a state or country that has virtual vaccination cards, you’ll now be able to add those into your Apple Wallet and use that on your iPhone and Apple Watch.

There are a few other features, such as Taiwanese Mandarin being an option in the Translation app and system-translation functions, the Home App now supporting triggers based off humidity, air quality, and light sensors, and some new pre-built actions and games within the Shortcuts app. And there are few bug fixes around the Photos app, Weather, battery algorithms, and more.

Full patch notes can be found below:

SharePlay

  • SharePlay is a new way to share synchronized experiences in FaceTime with content from the Apple TV app, Apple Music, Fitness+, and other supported App Store apps
  • Shared controls give everyone the ability to pause, play, rewind or fast forward
  • Smart volume automatically lowers the audio of a movie, TV show or song when your friends speak
  • Apple TV supports the option to watch the shared video on your big screen while you continue the FaceTime call on iPhone
  • Screen sharing lets everyone on a FaceTime call look at photos, browse the web, or help each other out

Camera

  • ProRes video capture using iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max
  • Setting to turn off automatic camera switching when taking macro photos and videos on iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max

Apple Wallet

  • COVID-19 vaccination card support allows you to add and present verifiable vaccination information from Apple Wallet

Translate

  • Mandarin Chinese (Taiwan) support in the Translate app and for system-wide translation

Home

  • New automation triggers based on the current reading of a HomeKit-enabled humidity, air quality, or light level sensor

Shortcuts

  • New pre-built actions let you overlay text on images or gifs, plus a new collection of games lets you pass the time with Siri

This release also fixes the following issues:

  • Photos app may incorrectly report storage is full when importing photos and videos
  • Weather app may not show current temperature for My Location, and may display colors of animated backgrounds incorrectly
  • Audio playing from an app may pause when locking the screen
  • Wallet may unexpectedly quit when using VoiceOver with multiple passes
  • Available Wi-Fi networks may not be detected
  • Battery algorithms updated on iPhone 12 models to better estimate battery capacity over time

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

iPadOS 15.1: Text scanning in photos + iOS 15.1 features

The new Live Text feature in camera translating the words on a cup. Live Text can translate between English, Chinese, French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Portuguese.
It’s on the iPhone, but now it’s coming to iPad too.

The iPadOS update is a nearly spot for spot copy of the iOS 15 update. The only standout difference is really where it’s catching up to iOS 15, and that’s with the Live Text features. Now the iPad, specifically the models with the A12 processor or later will be able to, recognize text, phone numbers, and more so you can copy, paste, and access smart functions with any of those items found in Photos or in the camera frame.

Full patch notes can be found below:

SharePlay

  • SharePlay is a new way to share synchronized experiences in FaceTime with content from the Apple TV app, Apple Music, Fitness+, and other supported App Store apps
  • Shared controls give everyone the ability to pause, play, rewind or fast forward
  • Smart volume automatically lowers the audio of a movie, TV show or song when your friends speak
  • Apple TV supports the option to watch the shared video on your big screen while you continue the FaceTime call on iPad
  • Screen sharing lets everyone on a FaceTime call look at photos, browse the web, or help each other out

Live Text

  • Camera app Live Text support recognizes text, phone numbers, addresses, and more so you can take action on them (iPad with A12 Bionic and later)
  • Keyboard support lets you insert text directly from the Camera into any text field (iPad with A12 Bionic and later)

Translate

  • Mandarin Chinese (Taiwan) support in the Translate app and system-wide translation

Home

  • New automation triggers based on the current reading of a HomeKit-enabled humidity, air quality, or light level sensor

Shortcuts

  • New pre-built actions let you overlay text on images or gifs, plus a new collection of games lets you pass the time with Siri

This release also fixes the following issues:

  • Photos app may incorrectly report storage is full when importing photos and videos
  • Audio playing from an app may pause when locking the screen
  • Available Wi-Fi networks may not be detected

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

WatchOS 8.1

Compared to the iPhone and iPad, the Watch’s updates are fairly minor but no less worthy of talking about. First, it bring the COVID vaccination card support into Apple Wallet if you live in an area that supports digital versions of the card. It also adds SharePlay support, but only for Fitness+ users.

If you’re using some older Watches though, you’re getting some additional goodies. Series 4 and newer watches will get better fall detection specifically during workouts, as well as a new setting that will allow you to only have fall detection enabled during workouts.

Series 5 and newer users may have noticed a bug where the time wasn’t updating properly when the screen was down, and 8.1 should now fix that bug.

Full Patch notes are below:

watchOS 8.1 includes the following improvements and bug fixes for your Apple Watch:

  • Enhanced algorithms to detect falls during workouts and option to enable fall detection during workouts only (Apple Watch Series 4 and later)
  • COVID-19 vaccination card support allows you to present verifiable vaccination information from Apple Wallet
  • Fitness+ supports SharePlay to allow subscribers to invite up to 32 people to workout together through a FaceTime call using iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV
  • Always On may not display the time accurately for some users when their wrist is down (Apple Watch Series 5 and later)

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

Apple TV 15.1: Guess what? More SharePlay!

Apple is still fairly quiet with its Apple TV updates, but we know this includes both security fixes and the SharePlay feature that is rolling out with the other Apple updates. This means you’ll be able to start a SharePlay session with your friends and family on your phone, and then AirPlay the video to your Apple TV while still keeping the FaceTime or other messaging service call active and in sync with the other participants.

HomePod

The HomePod, funnily enough, didn’t get SharePlay. Instead it is bringing Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos to your HomePod, as well as finally bringing Lossless playback to the HomePod and Mini if you’re using Apple Music. Just little by little making the HomePod sound even better.

Full patch notes can be found below:

Software version 15.1 includes support for new audio features for your HomePod. This update also includes performance and stability improvements.

  • Spatial audio with Dolby Atmos support on HomePod
  • Lossless playback with Apple Music on HomePod and HomePod mini

Other Notes:

Apple also released updates to Big Sur, bringing it to 11.6.1, and a Security Update to Catalina. With this release we also know it is the end of Mojave support, so unless you have a reason to not upgrade from that, you should start planning that upgrade.

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