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 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 in real-time between multiple users on a large, black whiteboard-like canvas. Input can include typed text, images, files and documents, shapes and handwritten text or images created with an Apple Pencil, creating something similar in shape to a shared note or document, but with more input flexibility. Users can share multiple boards with different groups of people and communicate in real-time via messages or FaceTime.
The iCloud encryption add-ons are grouped under the Enhanced Privacy banner and extend 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 email data remain unencrypted “because they have to work 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 people having private conversations can be sure they’re speaking to the person they think they’re speaking to.
Like the lockdown mode feature introduced in iOS 16 and macOS Ventura, advanced privacy features are disabled by default and must be enabled after updating. Enabling it also allows you to designate an emergency contact and generate a recovery key if you’re locked out of your account, as Apple doesn’t have your encryption key and otherwise can’t help you recover your data.
For owners of older devices, Apple has provided security updates for macOS Monterey and Big Sur (12.6.2 and 11.7.2 respectively) and a separate update for Safari 16.2. Older devices that cannot update to iOS 16 can install iOS 15.7.2, which includes many of the security-only updates found in iOS 16.2.
Apple has also released software updates for most of its other products: watchOS 9.2 adds some new workouts and “tweaks” the crash detection feature on 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.