Apple Updates Roundup: iOS/iPad OS 15.2, Watch OS 8.3, Monterey 12.1 and more

Apple has just released their latest round of updates, including the first major update to Monterey, the release of the Apple Music Voice Plan, iCloud Digital Legacy, and more.

MacOS Monterey 12.1

Monterey has its first update. With it comes SharePlay, which was released to the other Apple Platforms in the previous round of updates. This will allow you to share video and audio to people in a video call and allow people in the call to pause the media, fast forward and rewind, and even lower the audio. It will also allow you to share your screen with other people over FaceTime, which will be great for tech support people like myself.

As far as other new features go, they are almost entirely shared with iOS and iPad OS, so you can read more about those in the next section. But there are quite a few bug fixes for Monterey like an unresponsive trackpad (which I’ve experienced) and including at least 3 for the new 14 and 16 inch MacBook Pros like the MagSafe Charger bug.

Full patch notes can be found below:

macOS Monterey 12.1 adds SharePlay, an entirely new way to have shared experiences with family and friends in FaceTime. This update also includes the Apple Music Voice Plan, new safety features for children and parents in Messages, redesigned Memories in Photos, and other features and bug fixes for your Mac.

SharePlay

  • SharePlay is a new way to share synchronized experiences in FaceTime with content from the Apple TV app, Apple Music, and other supported 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 you or your friends speak
  • Screen sharing lets everyone on a FaceTime call look at photos, browse the web, or help each other out

Apple Music Voice Plan

  • Apple Music Voice Plan is a new subscription tier that gives you access to all songs, playlists, and stations in Apple Music using Siri
  • Just Ask Siri suggests music based on your listening history and likes or dislikes
  • Play it Again lets you access a list of your recently played music

Photos

  • Memories has been redesigned with a new interactive interface, new animation and transition styles, and multiple image collages
  • New Memory types include additional international holidays, child-focused memories, trends over time, and improved pet memories

Messages

  • Communication safety setting gives parents the ability to enable warnings for children when they receive or send photos that contain nudity
  • Safety warnings contain helpful resources for children when they receive photos that contain nudity

Siri and Search

  • Expanded guidance in Siri, Spotlight and Safari Search to help children and parents stay safe online and get help with unsafe situations

Apple ID

  • Digital Legacy allows you to designate people as Legacy Contacts so they can access your iCloud account and personal information in the event of your death

TV App

  • Store tab lets you browse, buy, and rent movies and TV Shows all in one place

This release also includes the following enhancements for your Mac:

  • Hide My Email is available in the Mail app for iCloud+ subscribers to create unique, random email addresses
  • Stocks allows you to view the currency for a ticker and see year-to-date performance when viewing charts
  • Reminders and Notes now allow you to delete or rename tags

This release also includes bug fixes for your Mac:

  • Desktop and Screen Saver may appear blank after selecting photos from the Photos library
  • Trackpad could become unresponsive to taps or clicks
  • External displays may not charge some MacBook Pro and MacBook Air computers when connected using Thunderbolt or USB-C
  • HDR video playback on YouTube.com could cause 2021 MacBook Pro computers to panic
  • Menu bar extras may be obscured by the camera housing on 2021 MacBook Pro computers
  • MagSafe may stop charging on 2021 16-inch MacBook Pro computers when lid is closed and system is shut down

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

iOS 15.2: Apple Music, Privacy Reports, and a whole lot more.

This update, like many of the .X releases, are chock full of new features that are shared across the entire lineup of Apple’s devices.

For one, the new Apple Music Voice Plan is here. If you mainly control Apple Music through Siri or only really care about playing genres of musics rather than specific songs or making playlists, then this is for you. You can read about it in my earlier post where it was announced with the MacBook Pros.

There are new Privacy features that have come along with this, such as the new App Privacy report. This will tell you how recently and how much apps access different private features that you’ve granted them access to such as location, contact, etc. This includes even Apple’s own apps like Mail and Messages showing when they accessed the Contacts app. It will also show what domains these apps are accessing and how much, so you can get an idea of how much data they’re sharing (or potentially leaking) to third parties. To be fair, not everything is evil, but transparency is important.

Another new “Privacy” feature comes in a different form, namely the Communication safety features. iPhones and iPads under parental controls can now have these communication features enabled to blur photos detected of containing nudity and will alert those people to think well about sending potentially nude photos. This feature was controversial, as it would alert those using the parental controls about when those under parental controls would send or receive such photos. The argument has been to help children be less exposed to potentially unwanted nudity or sharing photos of themselves they may regret later (or could be forced to share). The counter to this was that while this was good, this may expose kids who were in more restrictive households or are in the closet in some sense to abuse. Apple seems to have removed the parental notification feature, and instead just encourages users to talk to an adult or authority figure they trust when receiving or before sending such photos.

Speaking of family things (and bad transitions), Apple’s new Digital Legacy feature is out. This means you can set someone as a Legacy contact so that if you were to pass unexpectedly they could still gain access to most of your stuff in your personal iCloud (iTunes purchases are a notable exception). It should be noted that you will be asked to provide a proof of death before Apple will provide the keys to unlock the data, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to make your spouse, parent, or someone you try a legacy contact.

The last major feature I’ll mention is for specifically the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max, where you’ll now have a toggle for switching lenses in Macro photo and video shooting, rather than have Apple try to automatically switch lenses.

On a minor note, I noticed that the “Notification Summary” now has a darker background and bigger icons showing what apps sent you the most or most recent updates, and when expanded make it clearer how those updates are organized and are more distinct from your traditional notifications.

There are a bunch of other new features such as new CarPlay navigation improvements, Siri protections, and iCloud+, but I would encourage you to read the patch notes for the full details.

Full patch notes can be found below:

OS 15.2 adds Apple Music Voice Plan, a new subscription tier that provides access to music using Siri. This update also includes the App Privacy Report, new safety features for children and parents in Messages, and other features and bug fixes for your iPhone.

Apple Music Voice Plan

  • Apple Music Voice Plan is a new subscription tier that gives you access to all songs, playlists, and stations in Apple Music using Siri
  • Just Ask Siri suggests music based on your listening history and likes or dislikes
  • Play it Again lets you access a list of your recently played music

Privacy

  • App Privacy Report in Settings lets you see how often apps have accessed your location, photos, camera, microphone, contacts and more during the last seven days, as well as their network activity

Messages

  • Communication safety setting gives parents the ability to enable warnings for children when they receive or send photos that contain nudity
  • Safety warnings contain helpful resources for children when they receive photos that contain nudity

Siri and Search

  • Expanded guidance in Siri, Spotlight and Safari Search to help children and parents stay safe online and get help with unsafe situations

Apple ID

  • Digital Legacy allows you to designate people as Legacy Contacts so they can access your iCloud account and personal information in the event of your death

Camera

  • Macro photo control for switching to the Ultra Wide lens to capture macro photos and videos can be enabled in Settings on iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max

TV app

  • Store tab lets you browse, buy, and rent movies and TV Shows all in one place

CarPlay

  • Enhanced city map in Apple Maps with road details like turn lanes, medians, bike lanes, and pedestrian crosswalks for supported cities

This release also includes the following enhancements for your iPhone:

  • Hide My Email is available in the Mail app for iCloud+ subscribers to create unique, random email addresses
  • Find My can locate iPhone for up to five hours when in Power Reserve
  • Stocks allows you to view the currency for a ticker and see year-to-date performance when viewing charts
  • Reminders and Notes now allow you to delete or rename tags

This release also includes bug fixes for your iPhone:

  • Siri may not respond while VoiceOver is running and iPhone is locked
  • ProRAW photos may appear overexposed when viewing in third-party photo editing apps
  • HomeKit scenes that include a garage door may not run from CarPlay when your iPhone is locked
  • CarPlay may not update Now Playing information for certain apps
  • Video streaming apps may not load content on iPhone 13 models
  • Calendar events may appear on the wrong day for Microsoft Exchange users

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

iPadOS 15.2: Quick Notes options + iOS 15.2 features

The iPad’s notes are really just a cut-copy of the iPhone’s updates. The most specifically iPad thing is that the Quick Notes feature, the one where you can swipe up from the corner with a stylus or finger to start taking a note can now be set to activate from the bottom left or right corner (previously it was only the bottom right corner).

Full patch notes can be found below:

iPadOS 15.2 adds Apple Music Voice Plan, a new subscription tier that provides access to music using Siri. This update also includes the App Privacy Report, new safety features for children and parents in Messages, and other features and bug fixes for your iPad.

Apple Music Voice Plan

  • Apple Music Voice Plan is a new subscription tier that gives you access to all songs, playlists, and stations in Apple Music using Siri
  • Just Ask Siri suggests music based on your listening history and likes or dislikes
  • Play it Again lets you access a list of your recently played music

Privacy

  • App Privacy Report in Settings lets you see how often apps have accessed your location, photos, camera, microphone, contacts and more during the last seven days, as well as their network activity

Messages

  • Communication safety setting gives parents the ability to enable warnings for children when they receive or send photos that contain nudity
  • Safety warnings contain helpful resources for children when they receive photos that contain nudity

Siri and Search

  • Expanded guidance in Siri, Spotlight and Safari Search to help children and parents stay safe online and get help with unsafe situations

Apple ID

  • Digital Legacy allows you to designate people as Legacy Contacts so they can access your iCloud account and personal information in the event of your death

TV app

  • Store tab lets you browse, buy, and rent movies and TV Shows all in one place

This release also includes the following enhancements for your iPad:

  • Notes setting to access Quick Note with a swipe from the lower left or lower right corner of the screen
  • Hide My Email is available in the Mail app for iCloud+ subscribers to create unique, random email addresses
  • Reminders and Notes now allow you to delete or rename tags

This release also includes bug fixes for your iPad:

  • Siri may not respond while VoiceOver is running and iPad is locked
  • ProRAW photos may appear overexposed when viewing in third-party photo editing apps
  • Calendar events may appear on the wrong day for Microsoft Exchange users

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

WatchOS 8.3

The Watch, like everything else, gained access to the Voice Plan of Apple Music. Like it’s iOS counterpart, it also gained access to the App Privacy report, though it includes apps access data and sensor access. Unlike everything else, it seemingly jumped from 8.1 to 8.3! How peculiar…

The most Watch-specific note was that it fixes and issue where notifications would still come through sometimes if you were actively in a Mindfulness session. That’s not very nice, so it’s good that they fixed it.

Full Patch notes are below:

watchOS 8.3 includes new features, improvements, and bug fixes, including:

  • Apple Music Voice Plan gives you access to all songs, playlists, and stations in Apple Music using Siri
  • Support for App Privacy Report to record data and sensor access
  • Fixes an issue where notifications may interrupt Mindfulness sessions unexpectedly for some users

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

Apple TV 15.2: Can it be anymore stable?

Continuing the tradition, Apple remains mum on Apple TV patch notes, and not listing any new bug fixes or features. One can conclude they include the new Voice Plan in Apple Music, but even that wasn’t highlighted by Apple. If we find out more, I’ll be sure to share it.

HomePod

The HomePod, being primarily Siri device, also gained access to the Apple Music Voice Plan, including being able to start a trial of it right from the device. Voice Recognition for people in your household has now been extended to more people, though to which languages isn’t clear in the patch notes.

Full patch notes can be found below:

Software version 15.2 includes support for Apple Music Voice Plan, a new subscription tier designed to access music using Siri, and extends Siri voice recognition to new languages. This update also includes performance and stability improvements.

Other Notes:

Apple released Big Sur 11.6.2 and Catalina Security Update 2021-008 for Big Sur and Catalina respectively. These are fairly substantial security updates, fixing 31 and 27 different vulnerabilities found in each. It’s highly recommended that you update these if you have them.

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