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Apple Update Day: What to Expect With iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch

Notes and photos get encryption, and there's a new app called Freeform that reminds us a bit of the Nintendo DS's PictoChat.

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A photo of the iPhone 14 Pro Max
The iPhone 14 Pro Max.
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

Apple Watch and iPhone users, it’s update day. The iOS 16.2 update is currently rolling out to the iPhone 14 and all other compatible devices. The update includes Advanced Data Protection for iCloud data like Notes and Photos, just as Apple teased at WWDC earlier in the year. Apple says the encryption applies to 23 categories of data and that your information is protected even in a breach. But there’s plenty of other changes, too.

New Always-On Display Options

iOS 16.2 includes new options for the Lock Screen. First, on the iPhone 14 Pro/Pro Max, you can now hide the wallpaper and any pinging notifications from the Always-On display so that it’s not a distraction as you’re trying to focus. Next, the sleep and medications widgets are also rolling out with this software update, and you won’t need the always-on display for them—I’m excited about the meds one, because it’ll be easier to mark my pills as taken without panning around the home screen for the option.

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With this iOS update, the Dynamic Island has also received a new ability—a little late for the World Cup, but better than nothing. Live Activities for Apple TV (you just need the app, not the device) lets you follow along with sports scores right within the Dynamic Island, as promised when the iPhone 14 Pro initially launched.

iPad and iOS Devices Get Freeform

iPad users, you’re getting some new goodies, too. iPad OS 16.2 features external display support through Stage Manager, up to 6K resolution. This update affects the iPad Pro 12.9-inch, iPad Pro 11-inch, and iPad Air. Check Apple’s support page for more details on the iPad OS 16.2 update.

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Freeform screenshot
Image: Apple

iOS devices and the iPad are also getting the new Freeform app, a canvas collaboration app for taking notes and drawing doodles. It reminds me of the Nintendo DS’s PictoChat, and I’ve already had some fun testing it out through iMessage.

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Apple Music Karaoke

I’m also looking forward to trying out the new Apple Music Sing—essentially a karaoke mode within Apple Music. The app lets you adjust the vocals on a song to sound like backup singers, letting you take center stage. Of course, there are lyrics involved. But you will need an Apple Music subscription to access this feature.

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Emergency SOS via Satellite Comes to More Countries

iPhone 14 users: this isn’t a part of the iOS 16.2 software update, but it’s worth noting that Apple announced Emergency SOS via satellite in more countries, including the U.K., Ireland, France, and Germany. It also works if you visit any of these countries with your iPhone 14/14 Pro, as those devices have the hardware to make the satellite connection.

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WatchOS 9.2

As mentioned earlier, the Apple Watch has also been updated with watchOS 9.2. The update is rolling out now and includes new workout options, including Ourdoor Run, which detects when you arrive at a running track, and Race Route, which lets folks training for a race compete against their previous numbers to track their progress. It works for wheelchair workouts, too.

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The watchOS 9.2 update offers various other improvements, including bug fixes and a freshly-tweaked kickboxing algorithm. The new Family Setup can also be enabled to give access to the HomePod speakers and connected gadgets in your smart home.