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iOS 16.2, macOS 13.1 released with new collaboration features and other updates

Enlarge / The new Freeform app included in the iOS 16.2 and macOS 13.1 updates.


Apple has released the final versions of macOS 13.1, iOS 16.2, and iPadOS 16.2 to the public after a few weeks of beta testing. In addition to the standard bug fixes and security patches, these updates include the collaborative Freeform app that was announced at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June, increased use of end-to-end encryption for iCloud data, and (for iPhones) the vocal-reducing, karaoke-friendly Apple Music Sing feature.

Freeform uses your AppleID and iCloud to sync changes on a large, bulletin board-esque canvas between multiple users in real time. Input can include typed text, images, files and documents, shapes, and handwritten text or images done with an Apple Pencil, creating something that is similar in form to a shared note or document but with more input flexibility. Users can have multiple boards shared with different groups of people, communicating in real time via Messages or FaceTime.

The iCloud encryption additions are grouped together under the “Advanced Data Protection” banner, and they expand the service’s use of end-to-end encryption. Device backups for iPhones and iPads can be fully encrypted, as can Safari bookmarks and data from the Photos, Notes, Voice Memos, Reminders, Shortcuts, and Wallet apps. Calendar and Mail data remain unencrypted “because of the need to interoperate with the global email, contacts, and calendar systems.”

Advanced Data Protection also includes support for physical two-factor authentication keys, as well as key verification for iMessage contacts so that people having private conversations can be sure they’re talking to the person they think they’re talking to.

Like the Lockdown Mode feature introduced in iOS 16 and macOS Ventura, Advanced Data Protection features are off by default and must be turned on after updating. When enabling it, you can also designate an emergency contact and generate a recovery key if you are locked out of your account, since Apple won’t have your encryption key and won’t be able to help you get your data back otherwise.

For owners of older devices, Apple has provided security updates for macOS Monterey and Big Sur (12.6.2 and 11.7.2, respectively) as well as a separate update to Safari 16.2. Older devices that can’t update to iOS 16 can install iOS 15.7.2, which includes many of the security-only updates included in iOS 16.2.

Apple has also released software updates for most of its other products: watchOS 9.2 adds some new workouts and “optimizes” the Crash Detection feature on the hardware that supports it; tvOS 16.2 includes Apple Music Sing support for the latest Apple TV 4K and video previews for Apple TV+ shows; and HomePod Software Update 16.2 adds “performance and stability improvements” and supports “a new underlying architecture” for the Home app.

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