Software Updates: iOS, watchOS, tvOS, macOS

This past week, Apple rolled out software updates across the board. With that being said, if you have an iPhone or iPad (running iOS), an Apple Watch (running watchOS), an Apple TV (running tvOS), OR a Mac (running macOS, or OS X El Capitan for those that have not taken the plunge with macOS Sierra), then let’s dive in and see what’s new!

Let’s start with tvOS on AppleTV

The star of the show on Apple TV’s latest update is what’s called “Dark Mode.” This is a “new” interface option that was once available in versions of Apple TV dating back to pre-tvOS 9, but now we have it again. In my opinion, it’s a really great feature on those nights you want to kick back and enjoy the latest movie or TV series, because you can go into your settings and activate this feature. Siri is always a quicker gateway to this feature, where you can simply say something like “Turn on Dark Mode,” or “Turn off Dark Mode.”

Speaking of Siri:

Apple’s personal assistant has become the dominant method of navigating the 4th-gen Apple TV. I personally find myself getting to the results I want much faster by just asking questions like “Show me Fast and Furious movies,” or “Open the App Store.”

With tvOS 10, you can be even more specific with your search queries, asking things like:

  • Show me action movies with Dwayne Johnson,” or
  • Show me comedies from the 80’s.

In addition to broader search spectrums, Apple has integrated Siri to search YouTube as well. With this added benefit, you’re sure to find much more amazing content.

Some other notable changes include the addition of Memories in Photos, a smoother and more intuitive experience in the Music app, and Siri-functionality on the Remote app for iPhone.

Lastly for tvOS 10, Apple’s HomeKit has seen some changes. If you have Smart devices in your home, such as lighting, sound, or other technology, Apple TV is much more connected to all of these and aim to enhance your home experience.

Now, let’s take a quick look at watchOS.

For many of us that use Apple Watch as our only timepiece, we run into sometimes inconvenient problems that come with adapting to having so much technology on our wrists.

Namely, the biggest one I always hear about is when your watch lights up unintentionally when you raise your wrist in a dark room, like say, a theater.

Apple has finally addressed this specific concern in their latest watchOS update with a feature they call “Theater Mode.”

Theater Mode is an added feature that can be found by simply swiping up from the bottom of the watch face. You’ll see the last icon on the left column of toggles that displays theater masks. Simply press that icon and Theater Mode is activated.

From there, you’ll see a screen that explains Theater Mode further, stating “Theater mode turns on Silent Mode and keeps the screen dark until you tap the screen, or press the Digital Crown or side button.” Notifications will still come through and you will recognize them via the Haptic feedback, or vibration.

A welcome addition to the Apple Watch family are many options of brand new colored bands. They come in the Sport, Woven Nylon, Leather, Hermès Leather, and most importantly what we thought wasn’t going to happen, you can now buy Nike+ Sport bands separately! With these new bands, Apple has also updated the color options for watch faces to match the new bands.

For now, these are all very much appreciated additions to the Apple Watch family, so let’s move on to the Mac.

macOS Sierra

For a little while now, anyone using an iPhone or iPad since iOS 9.3 is probably familiar with the addition of the feature called Night Shift mode.

Night Shift is a feature that allows users to either automatically (via custom time schedules) or manually, on the fly, adjust colors that your iPhone screen emits based on the time of day. It basically allows warmth settings in the light temperature of your display allow for easier reading at night. This minimizes strain on your eyes.

According to research gathered by Apple, studies show that “exposure to bright-blue light in the evening can affect your circadian rhythms and make it harder to fall asleep. After sunset, Night Shift will shift your display colors to the warmer end of the spectrum, making the display easier on your eyes. In the morning, your display returns to its regular settings.¹

Also, good news if you speak Shanghainese and like to dictate your text to your Mac, dictation support is now available for Shanghainese! 😛

Apple has added the ability for users to opt-in to providing analytics for iCloud performance so that they can use those reports to continually improve its service offerings in the future. Lastly, for users who have purchased the newest MacBook model with Touch Bar, the Mac App Store now provides support for Touch Bar functions.

Lastly, let’s take a look at iOS, for those of you with iPhones and iPads.

iOS for iPhone and iPad

Below is a list of the major updates to the iOS software that I’ve seen:

  • For those with iPhone 6s/6s Plus or newer models (including iPhone SE), you can view Weather forecast data in Apple Maps app using 3D Touch.
  • If you have a newer model car or aftermarket in-dash stereo with Apple CarPlay-capabilities, you will see new quick access to albums from songs in Music, as well as a redefined “Up Next” screen.
  • Also in CarPlay, users gain quick access status bar functionality for music and other media, as well as communication and navigation.
  • Speaking of cars, support for searching for your parked car is now available in Maps.
  • Calendar app allows your to delete any unwanted event invites and also report it as Junk, if desired.
  • Apple has now transitioned iOS devices to the new Apple File System (APFS), which is a fancy way of saying that the “under the hood” file structure that controls the operations of your device are much more efficient and may free up storage space.
  • In the widget screen, you’ll notice a new Podcast widget where you can view your most recently accessed Podcasts.
  • You can also share Podcast shows/episodes within Messages with full playback support.
  • If you have purchased a set of Apple’s new AirPods, you can now enable Find My AirPods in the Find My iPhone app.
  • As you can tell from the image above, a new change to the Settings app is a much more organized view of your AppleID and iCloud settings, as well as quick access to all of the Apple devices you have registered to your AppleID. I will dive into this new layout next week, so be on the lookout!

Whew! Apple sure has been busy, but I will tell you, this is just the beginning of a new chapter in their story as a company. From California, as they put the finishing touches on their brand new, 2.8million sq. ft. headquarters, appropriately named “Apple Park” or  Park, which is expected to be completed by April or May of 2017, I believe they will be in their new home with a fresh start in innovation and partnerships that will only make Apple products and services better and better. Updated: I have written a post about updates to Apple Park (as of April/May 2017) that you can find here.

Until next time, remember you can leave any questions in the comments and I will have an answer for you asap!


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