Apple’s 2022 Harvest: Four iPhones, Three Apple Watches, and New AirPods Pro

Apple’s September crop has ripened, and the company has once again picked a basket of new and updated hardware for us. At its Far Out event on September 7th, Apple unveiled four iPhone 14 models, three new or updated Apple Watch models, and the second-generation AirPods Pro.

After the announcement, Apple said that iOS 16 and watchOS 9 would become available on September 12th, with iPadOS 16.1 and macOS 13 Ventura to arrive in October. As we’ve said before, wait a week or two before installing iOS 16 and watchOS 9 on essential devices to avoid any last-minute bugs. Regardless of when you upgrade, make a backup right before, in case something goes wrong and you need to erase and restore.

Let’s look at each of the new products.

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When Should You Upgrade to macOS 13 Ventura, iOS 16, iPadOS 16, watchOS 9, and tvOS 16?

September is here, which means that Apple will soon start releasing major upgrades for all its operating systems. Note that we say “start.” Apple will release iOS 16 and watchOS 9 alongside new iPhones and Apple Watch models in September. However, Apple has now acknowledged that iPadOS 16 will ship later in the fall—perhaps in October—as version 16.1, likely in conjunction with iOS 16.1 and possibly alongside macOS 13 Ventura. tvOS 16 isn’t interesting enough to worry about much either way.

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Apple’s Peek Performance Event

At its March 8th Peek Performance event, Apple freshened its iPhone and iPad product lines with a new third-generation iPhone SE and fifth-generation iPad Air, along with new green hues for the iPhone 13 line. Then Apple focused on the big announcements of the day: the entirely new Mac Studio, powered by the insanely fast M1 Ultra chip and accompanied by the stunning 27-inch Studio Display.

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macOS Monterey is now available

macOS Monterey showcasing new features on a MacBook Pro.

macOS Monterey delivers groundbreaking new features that help users connect in new ways, accomplish more, and work seamlessly across their Apple devices. FaceTime includes new audio and video features that make calls feel more natural and lifelike, and new Continuity tools like AirPlay to Mac enable Apple devices to work even better together. Live Text and Visual Lookup bring new intelligence features to surface useful information, Safari includes powerful tab organization with Tab Groups, and the ease of automation comes to the Mac with Shortcuts. Coming later this fall, SharePlay will enable Mac users to have shared experiences together through FaceTime, and Universal Control will make it easy for users to work effortlessly across their Mac and iPad. macOS Monterey is available today as a free software update on Macs with Apple silicon and Intel-based Macs.1

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Apple’s 2021 Crop: Four iPhones, Two iPads, and an Apple Watch

September is traditionally when new iPhones are ripe for the picking, and this year’s crop is no exception. At its California Streaming event on September 14th, Apple unveiled four iPhone 13 models. Apple also announced the expected Apple Watch Series 7, but entirely unanticipated were an upgrade to the iPad and a redesigned iPad mini.

Left to the fine print in Apple’s press releases was the fact that iOS 15, iPadOS 16, and watchOS 8 will become available for download on September 20th. As we’ve said before, you should wait at least a week or two before installing them on essential devices, just in case some unpleasant bug manifests itself. Regardless of when you upgrade, make a backup right beforehand, just in case something goes wrong and you need to erase and restore.

Let’s look at each of the new products. read more…

WWDC 2021

At its Worldwide Developer Conference keynote, Apple announced a boatload of new features that we’ll see in macOS 12 Monterey, iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and watchOS 8 later this year. Here are the ten features we think you’ll most like:

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Apple Announces New M1-Based 24-inch iMac, iPad Pro, AirTag, Apple TV 4K, and More

On April 20th, Apple took to the Internet to stream its “Spring Loaded” event. Pundits had been unable to figure out a theme based on the name, but Apple was being blunt: the event was taking place in the spring, and it was loaded with announcements.With Apple CEO Tim Cook bookending the presentation—and doing a cameo as a master thief at 37:26 into the presentation—the company announced an M1-based 24-inch iMac, M1-based iPad Pro models, the long-rumored AirTag item tracker, and an enhanced Apple TV 4K with a redesigned Siri Remote. All these items can be ordered on Friday, April 30th, but some won’t ship until the second half of May.

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What’s the Difference between Removing and Deleting an App?

There are many reasons you might want to get rid of apps from your iPhone or iPad. To begin, touch and hold on a blank spot on a Home Screen to enter “jiggle mode.” Then tap the ⊝ icon for any app to see the question about whether to delete the app entirely or merely remove it from the Home Screen. Delete the app if you don’t want to use it anymore or need to reclaim the space it occupies. (You can download it from the App Store again.) Remove the app from the Home Screen if you want to reduce clutter, keep the app on your device, and don’t mind opening it from the App Library (swipe left past all the Home Screens) or from Search (swipe down from the middle of the screen).

(Featured image based on an original by iStock.com/Photosbypatrik)

Quickly Put Lots of Files in a Folder with One Command

Imagine that you’re working with a bunch of files, and you want to put a set of them in a new folder. You could stop what you’re doing, make a new folder, select all the files, and drag them into the folder, like an animal. Or you could take advantage of a slick Finder command that Apple added in macOS 11 Big Sur. Simply select the files you want to put in a folder, Control-click one of them, and choose New Folder with Selection (X Items) from the top of the contextual menu. A folder called “New Folder With Items” appears, with your selected files inside. This feature may not be life-changing, but some people use it often.

(Featured image by iStock.com/ArLawKa AungTun)

Protect Your iPhone Passcode by Using Face ID or Touch ID

This is troubling. Joanna Stern and Nicole Nguyen of the Wall Street Journal have published an article (paywalled) and accompanying video that describes attacks on hundreds of iPhone users in major cities throughout the United States. Some attacks involve drugging people in bars or even violence, but the most avoidable involve the thief or a confederate surreptitiously observing the iPhone user entering their passcode before snatching the iPhone and running.

However it happens, once the thief has a user’s iPhone and passcode, they change the user’s Apple ID password—which is shockingly easy for them to do. With the new password,  they disable Find My, making it impossible for the iPhone’s owner to erase it remotely. Then they use Apple Pay to buy things and access passwords stored in iCloud Keychain. They can even look in Photos for pictures of documents containing confidential information, such as credit cards and ID cards. After that, they may transfer money from bank accounts, apply for an Apple Card, and more, all while keeping the user locked out of their account. Of course, they’ll resell the iPhone too. (Apparently, Android users are susceptible to similar attacks, but Android phones have a lower resale value, so they aren’t being targeted as much.) Victims have reported thefts of tens of thousands of dollars, and many of them remain unable to access their Apple accounts.

We fervently hope Apple addresses this vulnerability in iOS 17, if not before. At a minimum, Apple should require users to enter their current Apple ID password before allowing it to be changed, much as the company requires at the Apple ID website. Plus, Apple would ideally do more to protect access to iCloud Keychain passwords from a passcode-wielding iPhone thief. (The closest we have now is a different Screen Time passcode, which can prevent account changes, but it blocks access to so many settings that most people will find it too annoying and turn it off.)

Although the chances of you falling prey to one of these attacks is vanishingly low, particularly if you don’t frequent urban bars or areas that suffer from snatch-and-run thefts, the consequences of a passcode theft are so severe that it’s worth taking steps to deter the malicious use of your passcode. With luck, you’re already doing many of these things, but if not, take some time to re-evaluate your broader security assumptions and behavior.

Pay More Attention to Your iPhone’s Physical Security While in Public

Most importantly, you don’t want to make it easy for a thief to grab your iPhone. Apart from a wrist strap, there’s no reliable way to prevent someone from snatching it from your hand. When you’re not actively using your iPhone, stash it in a secure pocket or purse instead of leaving it out on a bar or table. Many people are blasé about protecting their iPhones, so if you take more precautions, you’re less likely to have problems.

Always Use Face ID or Touch ID When Unlocking Your iPhone in Public

The easiest thing you can do to protect yourself from opportunistic attacks is to rely solely on Face ID or Touch ID when using your iPhone in public. If a thief sees you entering a passcode, you could become a target.

We know people who avoid Face ID or Touch ID based on some misguided belief that Apple controls their biometric information, but nothing could be further from the truth. Your fingerprint or facial information is stored solely on the device in the Secure Enclave, which is much more secure than passcode entry in nearly all circumstances.

We’ve also run across people for whom Face ID or Touch ID works poorly—if that’s you, conceal your passcode from anyone watching, just as you would when entering your PIN at an ATM.

Use a Strong Passcode

By default, iPhone passcodes are six digits. You can downgrade that security to four digits, but don’t—that’s asking for trouble. You can also upgrade the security to an alphanumeric passcode that can be as long as you like, but that’s overkill, in our opinion. Video would still capture you entering it, and if you’re focused on entering it accurately, you’re less likely to be aware of someone shoulder-surfing behind you.

That said, make sure your passcode isn’t trivially simple. Basic patterns like 333333 and 123456 are far more easily observed or even guessed. There’s no reason not to use a passcode that’s memorable but unguessable, such as your high school graduating class combined with your best friend’s birth month.

Don’t Share Your Passcode Beyond Trusted Family Members

Even those who don’t have motivated thieves targeting them need to be careful to protect their passcode. Our simple rule of thumb is that if you wouldn’t give someone complete access to your bank account, you shouldn’t give them your passcode. If extreme circumstances require you to trust a person outside that circle temporarily, reset the passcode to something they’ll remember—even 111111—and change it back as soon as they return your iPhone.

Switch from iCloud Keychain to a Third-Party Password Manager

Although Apple keeps improving iCloud Keychain’s interface and capabilities, having all your Internet passwords accessible to a thief who has your iPhone and passcode is unacceptable. Instead, we suggest you use a third-party password manager like 1Password or BitWarden (we no longer recommend LastPass). Even when a third-party password manager allows easier unlocking with Face ID or Touch ID (which both 1Password and BitWarden do), they fall back on their master password, not the device’s passcode. After you move your passwords from iCloud Keychain to another password manager, be sure to delete everything from iCloud Keychain.

Delete Photos Containing Identification Numbers

Many people take photos of their important documents as a backup in case the original is lost. That’s a good idea, but storing photos of your driver’s license, passport, Social Security card, credit cards, insurance card, and more in Photos leaves them vulnerable to a thief who has your iPhone and your passcode. With the information in those cards, the thief has a much better chance of impersonating you when opening credit cards, accessing financial accounts, and more. Instead, store those card photos—or at least the information on them—in your password manager.

A Security Wakeup Call

Again, although it’s very unlikely that you would fall prey to one of these attacks, we appreciated the encouragement to re-evaluate our security assumptions and behaviors, and we suggest you do the same.

(Featured image by iStock.com/AntonioGuillem)


Social Media: Prompted by a spate of attacks where an iPhone thief obtains the user’s passcode and uses it to lock the user out of their iCloud account, steal their money, and more, we suggest ways you can protect yourself.

How to Share a Contact Card without Sharing Everything in iOS 16

Apple makes it easy to share contact cards on the iPhone or iPad—just scroll down in a contact and tap Share Contact. But what if you don’t want to share every piece of data on that card? To avoid oversharing in iOS 16 or iPadOS 16, tap Filter Fields at the top of the Share sheet and deselect the private items. If the card has a lot of data and you want to share only a few items, tap Deselect All Fields at the bottom of the sheet and select only what you want to share. Unfortunately, your selections aren’t remembered if you share the same card again later, so be sure to reset your selections each time you share.

(Featured image by iStock.com/diane39)

It’s Time to Try Dictation in iOS 16 and iPadOS 16

Apple has long provided a microphone button in the keyboard to invoke dictation on the iPhone and iPad. But, it wasn’t always easy to hit, and you had to switch back to the keyboard to fix the inevitable mistakes. (Apple’s dictation is a huge timesaver but far from perfect, particularly with homonyms and proper nouns.) With iOS 16 and iPadOS 16, Apple made the microphone button larger and repositioned it to make it easier to tap. More importantly, the keyboard remains available while dictation is active, enabling you to work with text manually during dictation. You can fix mistakes, reposition the insertion point, select and delete text, and so on. For instance, if dictation inserts the wrong word, double-tap the word to select it and speak the replacement. Or, if you want to add something, tap in the text to move the insertion point and start speaking again. Dictation can even add punctuation for you, but it’s a little haphazard at that, so you might want to disable that option in Settings > General > Keyboard.

(Featured image by iStock.com/fizkes)

The Amazingly Convenient Way to Scan Documents Using Your iPhone or iPad

On occasion, we all need to scan a document—an invoice, a recipe, instructions from a book—but far more people have an iPhone or iPad than a hardware scanner. Luckily, Apple has built a scanning capability into iOS, iPadOS, and macOS for some years now. The next time you’re faced with a piece of paper that you need in digital form, follow the instructions below. read more…

Six Ways of Making It Easier to Browse Your Favorite Websites

Everyone—or at least everyone reading this article—knows how to use a Web browser. But just because you can click links, search for websites, and type URLs doesn’t mean that you’re surfing the Web as smoothly and effectively as you could. We all have sites that we visit regularly—a local newspaper, perhaps, or a social media service that’s the only place to connect with far-flung family members. Plus, the rise of Web apps like Google Docs means that we may spend hours every day in a Web browser at a particular site.

Here then are six ways that you can make it easier to use the same sites every day. This list is far from comprehensive, but we hope it gets you thinking about how you can spend less time typing URLs and searching for sites. We’ll focus on Safari here, but similar features are available in most Web browsers.

Bookmarks

Many of you probably know about bookmarks, so let this serve as a nudge to remember how useful they can be. Dating from the earliest days of the Web browser, bookmarks are the original way to simplify revisiting a site.

In Safari on the Mac, save a bookmark by navigating to a page and then choosing Bookmarks > Add Bookmark. See your full list in the sidebar by choosing Bookmarks > Show Bookmarks. Click one in the list to load it. On an iPhone or iPad, tap the share icon and tap Add Bookmark; on the iPad, you can also drag a tab to the sidebar when it’s displaying bookmarks. You can see and visit your bookmarks by tapping the Bookmark icon in the toolbar (iPhone ) or the sidebar (iPad ).

Favorites

To make a particular bookmark even easier to access, add it to your Favorites. On the Mac, you can display the Favorites bar underneath the Location bar (View > Show Favorites Bar) and then click bookmarks for quick loading. Create a new favorite by putting a bookmark in the Favorites folder when you create it or by dragging it in later.

On the iPhone and iPad, favorites appear when you tap the Location bar, and adding a favorite is as simple as choosing Add Favorite instead of Add Bookmark in the share sheet.

As long as you have Safari enabled in your iCloud settings, your bookmarks and favorites sync among all your Apple devices.

Home Screen Icons

Want to go one step further? You can turn a Web page into a Home Screen icon on the iPhone or iPad. To set this up, just as with a bookmark, you navigate to the page and tap the share icon. Then select Add to Home Screen.

The Mac doesn’t have the same concept of Home Screen icons, but if you drag the URL for a Web page from the Location bar to your Mac’s Desktop, it will turn into a Web Internet Location file with a .webloc extension. It’s a normal file that you could put in the Dock, a Finder window’s toolbar, or anywhere else you want. Open it to load its page.

Bookmark Folders

Bookmarks and favorites are great for a site or two, but what if you want to open the same handful of sites every morning to get your daily dose of news and comics? Put all those sites in the same folder in the Favorites folder, either by adding them to the folder when you create them or by dragging them in afterward.

Once you have collected the desired bookmarks, you can open them all in new tabs by clicking the folder on the Favorites bar and choosing Open in New Tabs (or just Command-click it). If you don’t want it on your Favorites bar, the folder can live anywhere in your bookmarks—just Control-click it and choose Open in New Tabs.

This feature is available on the iPhone and iPad as well. Once the folder is in your Favorites, tap the Location bar and then touch and hold the folder. Choose Open in New Tabs from the menu that appears.

Tab Groups

Web browser makers were apparently unsatisfied with letting users open all the bookmarks in a folder in new tabs because they have come up with a similar feature called tab groups. Let’s say you’re researching new speakers to buy, and you want to compare options from different companies. Once you have open tabs for all the sites, you can open the sidebar in Safari on the Mac or iPad and use the Add Tab Group icon at the top to create and name a new tab group.

From then on, it appears in the sidebar, and when you select it, those tabs load automatically, replacing the ones that were there before (which are stored as another group). The feature is also available on the iPhone, where you must tap the tab icon in the toolbar first. Unlike a folder of bookmarks, when you close a tab in a tab group, it disappears, and if you want it back, you have to open it again manually.

Pinned Tabs

Perhaps you have several sites that are so important to you that you want them open at all times. For such situations, you can pin tabs to those sites. The utility of pinned tabs is that they stay in place even when you open a new window or quit and reopen Safari. Plus, if you click a link to a different website in a pinned tab, it opens in a new tab—pinned tabs always show the website you pinned. On the iPhone, where there’s no tab bar, pinned tabs live at the top of the tab screen. Each tab group can have its own pinned tabs.

To pin a tab in Safari on the Mac or iPad, drag an open tab all the way to the left in the tab bar until it shrinks into a tiny box showing only the site’s favicon. Or, on the Mac, Control-click the tab and choose Pin Tab (shown below). On the iPad, touch and hold the tab and select Pin Tab. To pin a tab on the iPhone, tap the tab icon first and then touch and hold a tab and select Pin Tab.

So there you have it! None of these features are particularly new, but they’re easily overlooked, and from what we’ve seen while watching people browse the Web, lots of people could benefit from them.

(Featured image by Adam Engst)


 

Protect Your Hidden and Recently Deleted Albums in Photos

Photos has long provided a hidden album you could use to hold images you wanted to keep a little more private. Until this year, however, it was security through obscurity: anyone who knew to reveal the album in Settings > Photos on an iPhone or iPad or by choosing View > Show Hidden Album on the Mac could see its contents. Now you can protect it—and the Recently Deleted album—with Face ID or Touch ID on an iPhone or iPad, or Touch ID or your password on a Mac. You can enable this feature in iOS 16 or iPadOS 16 using Settings > Photos > Use Face ID/Touch ID; in macOS 13 Ventura, choose Photos > Settings > General and select “Use Touch ID or password.” From then on, opening those albums will require authentication.

(Featured image by iStock.com/Kenishirotie)

What Is Advanced Data Protection for iCloud? Should You Enable It?

In early December, Apple made a surprise announcement: Advanced Data Protection for iCloud. It’s not as though iCloud’s standard data protection is problematic, but it hinges on one architectural decision that makes some iCloud data theoretically vulnerable: Apple holds the encryption keys necessary to decrypt iCloud data. Because Apple controls those encryption keys, an attacker or rogue Apple employee who could gain access to them could theoretically steal iCloud data. (There are many more safeguards; it’s not like there’s a big printout of keys anywhere.) Plus, since Apple has the technical capability to read that data, law enforcement agencies could legally compel Apple to hand it over.

Not all iCloud data is vulnerable in this way. Of the 26 types of iCloud data, 14 already support end-to-end encryption, where you control the encryption keys. That’s true of Health data, Passwords and Keychain, Apple Card transactions, and so on. You may not realize you’re managing these keys because Apple has baked that into the security architecture of its overall ecosystem. Apple hadn’t previously extended end-to-end encryption to more iCloud data types because doing so prevents Apple’s support engineers from recovering accounts for users who forget their passwords. Even when Apple can recover an account, the end-to-end encrypted data isn’t included.

So that’s the tradeoff. Advanced Data Protection increases security by extending end-to-end encryption to 9 of the remaining 12 iCloud data types. Those include iCloud Backup, iCloud Drive, Photos, Notes, Reminders, Safari Bookmarks, Siri Shortcuts, Voice Memos, and Wallet passes. But if you turn on Advanced Data Protection and forget your password, Apple won’t be able to help you recover your data.

Apple isn’t being cavalier about this risk. When you enable Advanced Data Protection, you must set up an alternate recovery method, preferably two. The simplest is a printed recovery key that you should store with other important papers, perhaps in a safe deposit box, and the other is an account recovery contact, a trusted person who can verify your identity and help you regain access to your account.

Nor is Advanced Data Protection a one-way street. If you ever decide the risk of forgetting your password is too great, you can always turn it off and fall back to iCloud’s standard data protection.

Several types of iCloud data remain under the standard iCloud protection even after you turn on Advanced Data Protection. For iCloud Mail, Contacts, and Calendars, the need to interoperate with external email, contacts, and calendar systems requires that Apple manage the encryption keys. Similarly, the collaboration capabilities of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote and the Shared Albums feature of Photos don’t support Advanced Data Protection. Also, although Advanced Data Protection can protect shared notes, reminders, and iCloud Drive folders, plus iCloud Shared Photo Library, that’s true only if everyone involved in sharing has Advanced Data Protection turned on. If not, the shared content falls back to standard iCloud protection.

There are also two notable downsides to turning on Advanced Data Protection:

  • System requirements: All devices signed in with your Apple ID must be updated to at least iOS 16.2, iPadOS 16.2, macOS 13.1, tvOS 16.2, watchOS 9.2, or the latest version of iCloud for Windows. As a result, you’ll have to sign out of iCloud on any device too old to upgrade to the necessary operating system version. That may be a deal-breaker for some people. You must also have two-factor authentication enabled for your Apple ID and a password or passcode set on your devices, but everyone should already have done that, regardless of Advanced Data Protection.
  • iCloud.com Web access: Turning on Advanced Data Protection automatically disables Web access to data at iCloud.com. You can re-enable Web access, but every subsequent visit to iCloud.com requires authorization from a trusted device, and the connection only lasts for an hour. If you make heavy use of iCloud.com, Advanced Data Protection may be burdensome.

So, should you use Advanced Data Protection? As long as all your devices support it, you’re not perturbed about the repeated iCloud.com authorizations, and you’re capable of maintaining both account recovery methods, go ahead. Although the benefit to most people isn’t huge—Apple’s security is excellent, and most people won’t be targeted by law enforcement—the downside is minimal as long as you understand the risk of Apple not being able to recover your account.

To enable the feature, navigate to Settings > Your Name > iCloud > Advanced Data Protection, tap Turn On Advanced Data Protection, and follow the prompts. Remember that you’ll need to set up the Account Recovery options before turning on Advanced Data Protection, and you may need to remove older devices from your iCloud account.

(Featured image by iStock.com/TU IS)