Apple’s iOS 14.6 and iPadOS 14.6 launched this week, adding several new features to iPhones and iPad devices including new voice controls, expanded tracking functions for AirTags, Family Sharing options for Apple card payments, and, of course, tons of bug fixes.
Here’s a round-up of all the new features in iOS/iPadOS 14.6 and how to use them—and don’t forget you can install the software update under Settings > General > Software Update.
Unlock your screen with your voice
Users can unlock their iPhone’s screen with a voice command after restarting the device. The new accessibility feature is available for all users with voice commands enabled.To turn on voice controls:
Go to Settings > Accessibility > Voice Control.
Tap “Set up Voice Control.” iOS will download the necessary files in the background. When it’s done, you’ll see a mic icon on the screen indicating voice controls are turned on.
You can also view voice commands and modify or create your own under Settings > Accessibility > Voice Control > Customize Commands.
Apple Card Family Group spending features
An Apple Card can now be shared with up to five other accounts in your Family Sharing group. Users must be 13 years or older to use Apple Card payments. Along with the family sharing option, users can track expenses and set spending limits and other restrictions.
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You’ll find all the options in Settings > [username] > Family Sharing.
New AirTag tracking functions
Apple’s recently released AirTags have a couple of new features included in iOS/iPadOS 14.6, including:
Tapping an AirTag with an NFC-capable device (like your iPhone or iPad) shows a partial phone number of the AirTag’s owner.
“Lost mode” in the Find My app now lets you add an email instead of a phone number.
Other new features in iOS/iPadOS 14.6
Apple Music Losses Audio prep: Apple Music’s new Lossless Audio quality option won’t hit the app until sometime next month, but iOS 14.6 preemptively adds support for the audio format to all applicable iOS and iPadOS devices.
Paid content support for Apple Podcasts: Podcasts creators can now add optional paid content and subscriptions for their shows in the Apple Podcast app. This doesn’t affect free content.
Apple is about to give millions of iPhone users a choice: Allow Facebook and other apps running on Apple’s iOS platform to track your activity on your phone and online, or stop tracking altogether.
What will you choose?
Among the new features in Apple’s new iPhone software, iOS 14.5, is a major privacy update called App Tracking Transparency, which requires apps to request permission before gathering user or device data. Specifically, the update changes the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), a unique, random number assigned to each iPhone that allows advertisers and developers to track user behavior, including app usage and web browsing behavior. The IDFA is often used to personalize advertisements.
Apple is also releasing software updates for its other devices, including the iPad, Apple Watch, Mac computers and Apple TV. Apple is hosting an event on Tuesday where the company will announce product updates, and the software is expected to be available this week.
A spokesperson for Apple said the new privacy features were developed to “provide transparency and give users a choice if their data is tracked.” Apple requires all developers to adhere to the new policies, but will not require software makers to make the update immediately.
Why Facebook objects
Facebook, Google and other big tech firms are unhappy with the changes.
In December, Facebook placed a full-page ad in the New York Times that claimed the user-tracking changes in iOS 14.5 would adversely affect small businesses. “[T]he average small business advertiser stands to see a cut of over 60% in their sales for every dollar they spend,” the Facebook ad stated.
A spokesman for Facebook was unable to verify the claim of a 60% loss to small business, but shared a Facebook blog post and video that asserts the Apple update will force developers to enable in-app purchases to make up for lost revenue.
“It will force businesses to turn to subscriptions and other in-app payments for revenue, meaning Apple will profit and many free services will have to start charging or exit the market,” the blog post said. Facebook has previously warned advertisers that its ad network could become “ineffective” on Apple’s products.
Google does not plan to make similar changes to its Android operating system.The mobile OS has a similar device identification advertising feature called GPS ADID that allows advertisers on Android to personalize ads. The current version of Android also asks for one-time user permissions that enables app access to a phone’s location, camera and microphone.
A spokesperson for the company, which is owned by Alphabet, told CBS News, “We’re always looking for ways to work with developers to raise the bar on privacy while enabling a healthy, ad-supported app ecosystem.”
A boon for privacy
The Google Chrome web browser will start limiting or removing data shared with third-party tracking cookies by early 2022, according to a company spokesperson. Instead of tracking individuals, Google plans to allow targeted ads to groups of users with similar interests, a move that it says is less invasive but which privacy advocates have criticized.
Apple’s update is “the most significant improvement in digital privacy in the history of the internet. And it will kneecap Facebook,” Jason Kint, a privacy advocate and CEO of the advertising trade association Digital Content Next, said in a tweet.
AdWeek, a trade publication for the advertising industry, recently surveyed a number of small business advertisers and reported that “nobody really knows” what to expect from the iOS changes.
Other experts are more positive. Apple’s policy is fair for both advertisers and consumers, said tech analyst Rene Ritchie. “It’s good for consumers. It’s not bad for advertisers. If we think of it in a consumer-centric way, [advertisers] have just had unfettered access to our data forever and it’s built up almost an entitlement to ownership of who we are and what we do online,” he told CBS News.
Ritchie said consumers have the right to keep private or to share mobile phone and browsing data. “This is our data. And it’s so valuable to [advertisers] that they’re willing to spend all this money, accumulating it and analyzing it, but we still own it,” he said.
Gazelle, a company that buys old iPhones, iPads, and Macs, has reinstated its device trade-in program after initially ending it in February.
Back in December, Gazelle announced plans to end its trade-in program in 2021, and said that it would shut down trade-in options on February 1, 2021. Gazelle stopped taking trade-ins at that time, but has since reversed course on the decision.
As of April 5, Gazelle is once again accepting online trade-ins for smartphones and tablets. In an email to customers that was also shared with The Verge, Gazelle said that trade-ins were reinstated after feedback from consumers.
Earlier this year, we announced that we will no longer be offering our trade-in option on Gazelle. After careful consideration, including feedback from customers like you, we have decided to keep Gazelle Trade-In going. Today, we are happy to say, ‘We’re back, baby!’ Gazelle Trade-In is a pioneer of the electronics trade-in space and we are happy to continue building on our legacy by offering a simple process and immediate payouts for those unwanted devices.
When initially announcing that its online trade-in program was ending, Gazelle said that it would instead focus on its in-store ecoATM kiosks, which are designed to offer instant cash for devices.
Gazelle operates more than 4,000 ecoATM units across the United States and has collected more than 25 million devices.
Your smartphone, your PC, your laptop – most of the devices we use are to some degree vulnerable to so-called stalkerware, software installed without your knowledge and aimed at obtaining sensitive data, like personal photos or login details.
In a nutshell, stalkerware “can result in the theft of data, monitoring of emails, SMS and MMS messages sent and received and even intercept your phone calls for the purposes of eavesdropping”, the Coalition against Stalkerware says.
The platform, a joint initiatve by aid organisations and IT security companies, aims to combat stalking, harassment and domestic violence by addressing the issue of stalkerware.
“Stalkerware services imply that their customers personally know victims, because these commercial spyware apps are manually installed. Users have to download the app, install it and enter credentials that are received after purchasing,” the Coalition explains further.
Anyone who loses their smartphone for a short period of time or has lent it to someone else for a longer time should therefore check it for changed or unknown settings, the initiative recommends.
On Android devices, for example, the setting “Unknown Sources” in the security menu is deactivated by default. If it’s suddenly activated, however, it could have been manipulated.
An unexpected discharge of the battery can also be a sign of stalkerware. Other indications are unknown apps or processes and webcam permissions that have not been granted by the device owner.
Even active sessions for which you have not logged in can indicate installed stalkerware.
Stalkerware is used for hidden digital surveillance, among other things. Removing it is not easy, but not impossible either. The Coalition against Stalkerware offers advise on how to do so on its website.
However, if you delete it, the respective offender is also warned. Victims of cyberstalking should therefore prepare a security plan and get expert help, for example from organisations that support victims of domestic violence. – dpa
Alongside picks for the top iPhone, iPad, and Mac apps and games of the year, Apple today shared charts featuring the Top Games of 2020 and the Top Apps of 2020, revealing the most popular free and paid apps and games during the year.
Among Us! was the top free game of 2020, followed by Call of Duty: Mobile, Roblox, and Subway Surfers. Ink Inc. Tattoo Drawing was the number four free app, while Magic Tiles 3: Piano Game earned the fifth spot. Mario Kart Tour also made the list, earning the 15th spot.
Minecraft was the top paid game of the year, followed by Plague Inc., Heads Up!, Monopoly, Bloons TD 6, Geometry Dash, and NBA 2K20. Many of these games are often at the top of the charts at the end of the year, with Minecraft and Plague Inc. long holding top spots.
Zoom was the top free app on iOS devices, followed by TikTok, Disney+, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat. Top paid apps included TouchRetouch for quickly removing clutter from photos, Procreate Pocket, Facetune, HotSchedules, and AutoSleep Sleep Tracker.
Apple has sections in the Today center of the App Store where all of these apps can be downloaded for those interested.
The iPhone 12 Pro Max is the biggest, heaviest and most expensive version of Apple’s smartphone for 2020, a beast in every dimension.
The top-of-the-range iPhone costs from £1,099 and sits above the 12 Pro (£999), the 12 (£799) and 12 mini (£699).
The 12 Pro Max has the same fresh design as the rest of the iPhone 12 range: squared-off sides, all-screen front with slimmer bezels and a frosted glass back. It has the same drop-resistant “Ceramic Shield” technology covering the screen and the new MagSafe magnetic attachment system on the back for wireless chargers and accessories, but that’s where the physical similarities end.
The screen is stunning. Bright, crisp and almost tablet-like at that giant size. Watching HDR video is fantastic, and there is a good set of stereo speakers too.
Holding it usually requires two hands, much like its superphone competition. It is very wide and weighs 226g – 18g heavier than the Note 20 Ultra, 39g heavier than the smaller 12 Pro or a full 64g heavier than the regular iPhone 12.
Thanks to the hard edges I found gripping the 12 Pro Max significantly easier than its rounded and equally heavy predecessor the iPhone 11 Pro Max. I could use it one handed with a bit of finger gymnastics and suffered none of the hand pain I got from trying to grip the bar-of-soap-like 11 Pro Max.
Camera: triple 12MP rear cameras with lidar, 12MP front-facing camera
Connectivity: 5G, wifi 6, NFC, Bluetooth 5, Lightning, ultra wideband and GPS
Water resistance: IP68 (6 metres for 30 mins)
Dimensions: 160.9 x 78.1 x 7.4mm
Top performance, 5G and two-day battery
The iPhone 12 Pro Max has the same A14 Bionic processor as the regular 12, 12 Pro and iPad Air, and has 6GB of RAM with a starting storage of 128GB – double the iPhone 12’s 64GB. Performance is equally excellent all round: snappy, slick and fast to process photos, videos or when playing games. Speeds on 5G were similar, with slightly better reception than the iPhone 12 Pro and negligible impact on battery life.
Battery life is class leading at more than 48 hours between charges (eight hours longer than the iPhone 12) with the screen on for more than seven hours. The phone will last from 7am on day one until 7am on day three using 5G for about five hours, with the remainder spent on wifi.
It takes 30 minutes to charge the battery to 50%, 73 minutes to reach 90% but two hours 13 minutes for a full charge using a cable and a £19 Apple 20W USB-C power adaptor, or more than three hours with the MagSafe wireless charger.
Apple does not provide an expected lifespan for the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s battery – typically smartphone batteries last at least 500 cycles while maintaining at least 80% capacity – but it can be replaced for £69. An out-of-warranty service costs £566.44, which includes the screen. The iPhone 12 Pro Max was awarded six out of 10 for repairability by the specialist iFixit.
The 12 Pro Max uses 100% recycled tin in the solder of its main board, 99% recycled tungsten, 98% recycled rare earth elements and at least 35% recycled plastic in multiple other components. Apple is also using renewable energy for final assembly of the machine, and breaks down the phone’s environmental impact in its report.
It also offers trade-in and free recycling schemes, including for non-Apple products. The 12 Pro Max does not ship with headphones or a power adaptor, reducing its carbon footprint.
You can expect upwards of five years of software support including security fixes and iOS version updates, which is longer than any other manufacturer of smartphones.
The iPhone 12 Pro Max has the same selfie camera and ultrawide camera as the 12 and 12 Pro, which perform just as well, but different main and telephoto cameras on the back.
The telephoto camera has a longer 2.5x optical zoom, up from 2x. Any increase in reach is welcome, but it pales in comparison to the 4x/5x optical zooms of competitors. The lens is slightly slower than that on the 12 Pro, making it worse in poor light. But both smartphones switch to the more light-sensitive main camera in low-light anyway.
The main camera has the same 12-megapixel resolution but a 47% physically larger sensor, which collects up to 87% more light than its predecessor.
In good light it shoots photos that are indistinguishable from the 12 Pro: highly detailed with good colour accuracy and control of high-contrast scenes.
When the light level starts to drop around dusk the larger sensor captures far brighter, more detailed and less noisy images that are a marked improvement over other iPhones. The same holds true for indoor shots on dull winter days. The dedicated Night Mode is needed less frequently, too, and when it does engage it captures photos quicker than the regular 12 Pro.
The 12 Pro Max also has the same lidar (light detection and ranging) scanner on the back for Night Mode portraits and faster autofocus. The 12 Pro Max can shoot 4K video at 60 frames a second, and in Dolby Vision HDR too.
Overall, the 12 Pro Max has the best camera on any iPhone and has improved low-light performance over other iPhone 12 models. It also brings Apple up to par with top competitors, although the 2.5x optical zoom is still some way behind the best in the business.
The iPhone 12 Pro Max costs £1,099 for 128GB, £1,199 for 256GB or £1,399 for 512GB of storage.
The iPhone 12 Pro Max is the most feature-rich Apple smartphone this year, but comes at a significant price – both monetary and physically.
It sits firmly in the superphone bracket alongside the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and the OnePlus 8 Pro, so big that you may struggle to fit it in small pockets and will almost exclusively need two hands to use it.
You get a huge 6.7in screen, 48-hour-plus battery life, a significantly better camera and improved design and ergonomics over its predecessors. It is certainly not perfect and costs a lot, even if it is only £100 more than the smaller iPhone 12 Pro, but you are getting a lot of phone for the money.
If you can manage its sheer gargantuan size and cost, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is one hell of a superphone.
Pros: very long battery, top performance, improved low-light camera, longer optical zoom, portraits with night mode, water resistant, wireless charging, MagSafe, Face ID, fantastic screen, 5G, long software support.
Cons: no USB-C, need your own charger, enormous, super heavy, very expensive.