Apple just released updates for the iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and more: Here’s what’s new

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June Wan/ZDNET

Apple on Tuesday released iOS 16.2, iPadOS 16.2, WatchOS 9.2, and MacOS 13.1 along with new software for its HomePod and Apple TV lineup. The updates bring new features and capabilities to Apple’s hardware lineup ranging from the option to enable encrypted iCloud backups (a feature called Advanced Data Protection) to the Apple Watch gaining new workout features for runners and cyclists.

You can download and install any of the updates through the normal means right now, or wait a few days if you don’t like testing out new software before others to ensure there aren’t any launch day bugs or issues.

Below I’ll walk you through some of the feature highlights of what’s new in each update.

What’s new in iOS 16.2

With the release of iOS 16.2, the iPhone is receiving several key new features. For iPhone 14 owners, Apple addressed some early complaints about the always-on display feeling like it was truly on, so there are two new settings to disable showing the wallpaper and notifications when the phone is locked and sitting idle.

You can start the enrollment process for Advanced Data Protection — AKA encrypted iCloud backups — after updating your iPhone to iOS 16.2. Every Apple device linked to your iCloud account will need to be running the newest Apple software in order to enroll your account in the new security measure.

Apple’s Freeform app is also included in the update, giving you access to any boards created on other Apple devices. Apple’s karaoke feature, Apple Music Sing, will also be available after the update.

You’ll start to see sports scores for teams you’ve favorited in the Apple TV app show up as a live activity on your lock screen or in the dynamic island after updating to iOS 16.2.

Other features include support for the new Home architecture, new lock screen widgets for medication reminders and tracking sleep.

Your iPhone’s AirDrop privacy settings will enforce a 10-minute limit for opening it up to everyone, after which it will revert back to its previous setting.

What’s new in iPadOS 16.2

The iPad lineup is getting an update to iPadOS 16.2, which brings all of the same core features that iOS 16.2 has — Freeform along with Home, AirDrop, and iCloud backup enhancements.

The most notable addition to the iPad lineup is improvements to Stage Manager, the multitasking experience that first debuted with iPadOS 16.1.

Apple has refined the overall Stage Manager experience, along with adding true external monitor support for iPad Air and iPad Pro models that support Stage Manager.

Once a compatible iPad is connected to a monitor, you’ll have two completely independent homescreens that can each display up to four active app windows at the same time.

What’s new in WatchOS 9.2

The Apple Watch isn’t getting the Freeform app, but it is getting a couple of new fitness-focused features.

Apple is adding automatic track detection that uses Apple Maps and GPS data to determine when you’re on a standard 400m track. Once you start an outdoor run workout, the watch will ask which lane you’re using in order to better calculate distance and other workout metrics.

Additionally, the Apple Watch is gaining a race route feature that will use your old outdoor running or cycling workout routes and let you race against your best previous workout.

What’s new in MacOS 13.1

The MacOS Ventura 13.1 update includes many of the same features as its iPhone and iPad counterparts. You’ll gain access to the Freeform app, support for encrypted iCloud backups, and for the first time, you’ll now have the option to prompt an AirTag to play a sound to help find a lost item using the Find My app.

What about the HomePod and Apple TV?

Apple’s smart speaker and streaming box are receiving an update as well. The HomePod’s 16.2 software update brings a completely new “underlying architecture” that aims to improve the overall HomeKit experience for adding and controlling your smart home devices. Once you update your HomePod you’ll need to opt into upgrading to the new architecture within the Home app.

As for the Apple TV, TVOS 16.2 brings Apple Music Sing — a karaoke feature — to the latest Apple TV 4K. The Apple TV and the Siri Voice Remote will also gain the ability to switch between Apple TV profiles using voice recognition.