Today Apple released significant software upgrades and updates for all of their operating systems. This includes the annual upgrades for Mac and iPad, as well as the first significant updates for iOS 16 on iPhone and watchOS 9 on Apple Watch.
macOS 13 Ventura
Every year Apple releases a free major upgrade for Mac. This year’s upgrade includes a lot of new exciting features. Among them are:
- Stage Manager, an optional simplified app switcher
- A redesigned System Settings app (previously System Preferences), which is laid out like the Settings app on iPad
- Support for Passkey, which could end the need for passwords once adopted by websites (also added to macOS Monterey and Big Sur with today’s Safari 16.1 update)
- The ability to use the fantastic camera in your iPhone as a webcam for video calls such as FaceTime and Zoom (particularly useful for those with desktop computers)
- Handoff allows you to swap active FaceTime calls between devices
- Apple Mail allows you to unsend an email for 10 seconds or to schedule a message to be sent later
- Shared Tab Groups in Safari
- Duplicate Photo finder in Photos
- Weather app
- Shared Photo Library allows participants to add and edit photos to a single library (while still maintaining your own private libraries)
Compatible with all Mac models 2017 and later, except for MacBook Air which requires 2018 or later.
This is the first significant update to iOS 16 which was released a few weeks ago. 16.1 has a lot of bug and security fixes, as well as several pretty major features that were previously announced. From Apple’s release notes:
This update introduces iCloud Shared Photo Library making it easy to keep your family photos up to date. This release also adds support for third party apps in Live Activities, support for Apple Fitness+ on iPhone even if you don’t have an Apple Watch, and includes other features and bug fixes for your iPhone.
iCloud Shared Photo Library
– Separate library for seamlessly sharing photos and videos with up to five other people
– Setup rules allow you to easily contribute past photos based on start date or people in the photos when you set up or join a library
– Library filters for quickly switching between viewing the Shared Library, your Personal Library, or both libraries together
– Shared edits and permissions let everyone add, edit, favorite, caption, and delete photos
– Sharing toggle in Camera lets you choose to send photos you take straight to the Shared Library, or enable a setting to share automatically when other participants are detected nearby using Bluetooth
– Live Activities from third party apps are available in the Dynamic Island and on the Lock Screen for iPhone 14 Pro models
– Apple Fitness+ is supported on iPhone even if you don’t have an Apple Watch
– Key sharing enables you to securely share car, hotel room, and other keys in Wallet using messaging apps such as Messages and WhatsApp
– Savings account enables Apple Card customers to grow their Daily Cash by depositing it in a high yield savings account
– Matter, the new smart home connectivity standard, is supported enabling a wide variety of smart home accessories to work together across ecosystems
Clean Energy Charging
– New setting that can try to reduce your carbon footprint by selectively charging when lower carbon emission electricity is available
– Reader controls are automatically hidden as you start reading
This update also includes bug fixes for your iPhone:
– Deleted conversations may appear in the conversations list in Messages
– Dynamic Island content is not available when using Reachability
– CarPlay may fail to connect when using a VPN app
Compatible with iPhone 8 and later, iPhone SE 2nd generation and later.
In a departure from the standard release pattern, Apple did not release iPadOS 16 alongside its close cousin iOS 16. Instead, Apple took a little more time to refine the update. In addition to the updates from iOS 16 and 16.1, iPadOS 16.1 also includes Stage Manager which Apple hopes will allow iPad to be used more like a computer, especially when connected to an external monitor with a mouse and keyboard.
- iPad Pro (all models)
- iPad Air (3rd generation and later)
- iPad (5th generation and later)
- iPad mini (5th generation and later)
This is a minor update with only a few very small features and bug fixes hardly even worth mentioning, but if your iPhone is running iOS 16 or later I recommend you update your Apple Watch right away. Compatible with Apple Watch Series 4 and later.
tvOS 16.1 includes a few minor Siri-related features plus security patches and bug fixes. Siri now takes up less screen space, and “Hey Siri” can be enabled when using AirPods. It also adds support for the new more reliable Home app architecture. Compatible with all Apple TVs with the modern icon-based interface.
HomePod 16.1 adds support for Matter devices.
Smaller updates include:
- macOS Monterey 12.6.1
- macOS Big Sur 11.7.1
- Safari 16.1 with Passkey support in macOS Big Sur and Monterey
- iMovie 10.3.5 for Mac and 3.0.1 for iPad/iPhone
- Clips 3.1.3
- Final Cut Pro 10.6.5
- Motion 5.6.3
- Compressor 4.6.3
- iTunes 12.12.6 for Windows
When should I upgrade?
Terminology: Upgrades and Updates
Upgrades are the major new versions that often include many new features and sometimes change how things work. They are generally indicated by a number without a decimal point, such as iOS 16 and macOS 13. Apple releases an upgrade every fall. Updates are the minor in-between releases, which sometimes have a sprinkling of new features, but are focused more on bug fixes and security fixes. These usually have a “point” in the version number such as iOS 16.1 today.
Though these are the general definitions, occasionally you will see the terms used interchangeably, especially when used as a verb instead of a noun.
I always recommend installing the updates immediately if you are already on the current version. Upgrades, however, should generally be installed with a little more caution.
Apple TV: I always recommend upgrading the software on your Apple TV immediately. tvOS has always been extremely reliable and they do contain bug and security fixes. Unless you changed the settings, your Apple TV should be set up to install updates and upgrades automatically, which it usually does within a week or two.
Apple Watch: I always recommend updating your Apple Watch when you update your iPhone. Since they work so closely together it’s best to keep them in step with each other.
iPhone and iPad: These are simple computers so if you are feeling adventurous, feel free to upgrade to the latest software as soon as it is out, especially if there are new features that you are looking forward to. If you aren’t an adventurous soul, you can wait until the .1 or .2 release. Be wary of confirmation bias when searching the internet for problems on any specific version. With millions of people who use these devices, you will find people with problems. But the chances that you yourself will have a serious problem are slim. One reason you may want to consider delaying the upgrade is if you are using an older iPhone or iPad, something over 4 years old. Older devices are a little slower, so it might be better to wait until the .1 or .2 update to make sure the software speed has been improved.
Mac: computers are significantly more complex than iPads and iPhones, so I am a little hesitant to recommend upgrading Mac software immediately. If you have a current Time Machine backup of your Mac and if you only use the most basic of software (Apple’s own software, Firefox, Chrome, the latest versions of Microsoft and Adobe software), you are probably safe to upgrade right away. If you have a setup that includes older software, software that is not particularly common, or if you have an older computer, you may want to wait until the .2 or .3 update.
- Mac (macOS 13 Ventura or later): Click the Apple menu > System Settings > General > Software Update.
- Mac (macOS 12 Monterey or earlier): Click the Apple menu > System Preferences > Software Update. Apple Support Article HT201541
- iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch: Open the Settings app > General > Software Update. Apple Support Article HT204204
- Apple Watch: First update your iPhone, then on your iPhone tap the Watch app > General > Software Update. Apple Support Article HT204641
- Apple TV: Go to the Settings app > System > Software Update. Apple Support Article HT202716
- HomePod: Updates will install automatically. To push the update along faster see the instructions in Apple Support Article HT208247