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Amazon Prime Day 2020: Best Deals on iPhone Accessories

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Here are the best deals on vlogging kits, cases, adapters and charging stations for the iPhone 11 and previous generations.

There are some terrific Amazon Prime Day deals for accessories for the always-popular Apple iPhone, whether it’s the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, the iPhone XR, or previous generations. Here’s a look at some of the iPhone accessories to consider on Prime Day. 

Disclaimer: The pricing and product availability information was accurate at the time of publication.

Image: Amazon

Start your vlog, Tik Tok promotion, podcast or just up your selfie game with this vlogging kit by HUNRIM. This kit is easy to set up and has a tripod, LED light, microphone stand, microphone clip, microphone, phone mount, adapter and Bluetooth remote shutter. 

$40 at Amazon

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Image: Amazon

This WLONS iPhone case has an inner soft cushion with an outer hard case for extra protection. The texture is raised and protects against slippage and fingerprints. 

Comes in six colors.

$18 at Amazon

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Image: Amazon

This two-in-one iPhone headphones adapter supports charging and audio output at the same time.  Designed for iPhone users, the audio and charge adapter for iPhone 11/11 Pro/11 Pro Max/ X/ XS/ XS MAX/ XR/ 8/8Plus/ 7/7 Plus/SE. Compatible with iOS 11/12/13 or later systems. Don’t worry about iOS system updates.
Comes with a Lightning to 3.5mm adapter for iPhone. 

$6 at Amazon

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Image: Amazon

Protect your Pro Max’s lenses while letting the world know you’re worth all the bling. It comes with four pieces so that if one falls off, you have a spare.

Made of pace titanium alloy materials which are more wear-resistant and stronger, while allowing high picture quality and light through, while not affecting the phone pixels, Full coverage design, prevent broken screen, prevent dust from entering the camera lens gap. Comes in five styles.

$8 at Amazon

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Image: Amazon

These days, there are so many things to keep charged, we hardly have the room or the socket space. This multi-device charging station can charge eight devices at once, including multiple tablets and iPhones, along with wireless earbuds and a watch. 

Included: 

  • 8 placements
  • 1 PD fast charging port
  • 1 QC 3.0 fast charging port
  • 4 2.4 charging ports
  • 6 cables

All USB ports of the desktop charging station have current limiting protection and use advanced power chips to keep the temperature at a low level after being fully charged.

$38 at Amazon

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Image: Amazon

Working by the pool or taking the fam to a waterpark, you’ll never be out of touch with the ProCase Universal Waterproof Case Cellphone Dry Bag. 

This two-pack universal waterproof phone case dry bag fits all smartphones up to 7″ diagonal size (certain big screen phones need to remove protective cases), Keep your ID, credit cards and passport dry and on your person while having fun in the sun. The sides allow you to use the buttons on the side of the phone. 

It’s 100 feet IPX8 certified waterproof. Compatible with devices up to 3.35 x 6.69 inches; Comes with a neck strap.

It works with IPhone XS Max, XR, XS, X, 8, 8 Plus,7, 7 Plus, Galaxy S10 Plus, S10, S10e,S9 Plus, Note 9.

$9 at Amazon



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How to get iCloud+, Privacy Relay and Hide My Email on iOS 15

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Now available as a developer beta, iOS 15’s new iCloud+ subscription service comes with a VPN-like internet privacy relay and email obfuscation. Here’s how to subscribe and enable the new features.

Image: Apple

The developer beta of iOS 15, the latest operating system for Apple’s iPhone, is now available. If you’re lucky enough to have a dev account and are able to get it before the public beta in July, there’s lots of new features to check out, like the new iCloud subscription service, iCloud+.

Like the old iCloud subscription model, iCloud+ comes in three tiers: 50GB, 200GB, and 2TB, with pricing scaling to match. iCloud+ pricing tiers match those of the old iCloud subscription plans ($0.99, $2.99 and $9.99 in the U.S., for example), and no matter which you choose all of the additional iCloud+ features are included. 

SEE: Electronic communication policy  (TechRepublic Premium)

We’re going to focus on two of iCloud+’s biggest features: Private Relay and Hide My Email, both of which are easy to set up once iOS 15 is installed on your device. 

Please note that, as this is an early beta of iOS 15, these steps may change by release. 

How to get iCloud+

There’s no “getting” to iCloud+: It’s a free update for all iCloud users this fall, so don’t worry about missing out on the switch from upgraded storage to storage plus the new features. The same goes for the iOS 15 Developer Beta: iCloud+ is activated for users and the new privacy features are available to test now. 

How to use iCloud+ Private Relay

Everything we’ll be doing with iCloud+ is performed in the Settings app. When you open it you should see your name at the very top. Click on that to be taken to your AppleID screen (Figure A). 

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Figure A: Where to find your iCloud account information in the iOS 15 Settings app.

On the screen shown in Figure A, tap on iCloud and you’ll be taken to the screen shown in Figure B, where you should see iCloud+ listed if you’re using iOS 15 and have a paid iCloud account. If you don’t currently have a paid iCloud account, now is the time to pause and use Apple’s walkthrough on how to sign up for upgraded iCloud storage, which will become iCloud+ on iOS 15.

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Figure B: How an iCloud+ account appears in the iOS 15 Settings app.

Assuming you have a paid iCloud account and are using iOS 15, you should, as shown in Figure B, iCloud+, and below it will be Private Relay and Hide My Email, the two new privacy features. Tap on Private Relay to get it set up, as shown in Figure C.

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Figure C: Enabling iOS 15’s Private Relay.

Once you activate Private Relay you’ll see what it’s doing: Hiding your IP address and Safari browsing activity from ISPs and websites by bouncing it through a couple of different relays. 

SEE: Samsung Galaxy S21 Series: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The additional option you see in Figure C for IP Address Location allows you to choose between iOS preserving your approximate location in order to keep search results and other geolocated data relevant, or using a broader location, which hides where you are but may result in less location-specific search results and the like. 

How to use iCloud+ Hide My Email

Backing out of Private Relay and returning to Figure B, the next thing we’ll do is tap on Hide My Email. If, like me, you’ve opted to hide your email address when using Sign in With AppleID, you may see a few gibberish email addresses here already, as shown in Figure D. These are tied to specific apps that use AppleID as a sign in option and are different from iCloud+ Hide My Email, which allows you to use a fake account for signing up for internet services that don’t use AppleID for sign in. 

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Figure D: The Hide My Email screen.

If you tap on Create New Address, you’ll see the screen shown in Figure E. The email address that Apple generates here is much more usable than the ones shown in Figure D, and this address can be used anywhere online that an email address needs to go where you may not want to share your actual one. 

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Figure E: Adding a new address to Hide My Email.

After you’ve created an email address and given it a label (like “for surveys,” “e-commerce” or whatever else is applicable) it will show up along with app-specific addresses on the screen shown in Figure D. Tapping on the address will show Figure F, where you can change the label, add a note about the account, or deactivate the address in order to stop receiving forwards from it. Once inactivated, the address will shift to an Inactive Addresses list, from which you can reactivate it or delete it entirely. 

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Figure F: How to deactivate or makes changes to a dummy mail address.

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17 Terminal commands every user should know

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The following is a list of entry-level operational commands aimed at understanding and using Terminal.

Image: Apple

Terminal, or the command line interface (CLI), is considered by many to be the Holy Grail of computer management. At one time the CLI was the only way to accomplish anything on a computer; then, the CLI gave way to the graphical user interface (GUI) as the popularity of PCs increased. The purists among us often prefer to use the CLI as a means of manipulating the computer and getting it to perform tasks instead of using a mouse to get things done.

Over the years the Mac GUI has changed the way we work, but still, many people use the command line for its ability to control and automate tasks, or even configure features on the Mac that are only accessible through the CLI.

Some things in the Terminal allow users to work faster for basic or repetitive tasks. Commands can be chained together to increase their usage, and more. 

Anyone on a Mac built after Mac OS X’s initial debut in 2001 can experience the command line interface through the Terminal app on their Mac through the UNIX-based shell. This app can be found inside of the Applications | Utilities folder (open a Finder window and press Command+Shift+U). The Terminal works by entering commands on the keyboard and pressing return to execute the commands. The Terminal will then respond after the command has been executed with any relevant information available (some commands may not echo back any output).

Open up the Terminal and follow some of the basic CLI commands below to grow your knowledge of how you can use command line interfaces on a modern Mac to get work done.

SEE: macOS tune up checklist (TechRepublic Premium) 

1. Change Directory

Command: cd

What it does: This command will change the directory that you’re currently working with in the Terminal in order to execute other commands on a different directory, view the contents of a different directory or open a file in a different directory. This is a very common command that will be used when working with the CLI. If you ever lose your place and which directory you’re in, type pwd (print working directory) and press Return to echo the current path.

Example: cd “path/to/directory/” (Figure A)

Figure A

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2. Listing Directory

Command: ls

What it does: Use this command after navigating into a directory using the cd command to view the contents (files and directories) inside of the current directory. Use the argument -l (ls -l) to get even more information about each of the files, including the permissions, owner and date created.

Example: ls “path/to/directory/” (Figure B)

Figure B

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3. Open files

Command: open

What it does: When browsing a directory, you may encounter a file that you wish to open on your Mac. That’s where the open command comes in. Typing this command followed by a space and the filename will open the file with the app that can open that file type on the Mac. When typing the filename, you don’t need to type the full name, partially type what you can, then press tab to autocomplete the remaining text.

Example: open “filename” (Figure C)

Figure C

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4. Copy a file to another directory

Command: cp

What it does: This command facilitates copying a file from one location to another, or just simply making a copy of the same file with a new name. When specifying the first argument, include the originating file that you wish to copy followed by a space and a full path, filename and extension of where you want the copy to be placed when the command is executed. The Terminal will return when the copy has been completed.

Example: cp “filename” “newfilename” (Figure D)

Figure D

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5. Move a file

Command: mv

What it does: When you don’t want to copy a file, but instead move it, use the same format of the cp command, but instead replace ‘cp’ with ‘mv’. This will perform a file move from one location to another, removing the file from the original location and putting it into the new location.

Example: mv “filename” “path/to/new/file/location” (Figure E)

Figure E

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6. Create a text file

Command: touch

What it does: The touch command allows you to create any type of file, but it’s blank. After you create the blank file, you can open it in a text editor by typing open [filename].

Example: touch myfile.txt (Figure F)

Figure F

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7. Create a directory

Command: mkdir

What it does: This command will allow you to create a directory (folder) right from the CLI. When you need a place to store new files, just use this command to add a new directory in the current working directory, or specify a full path to the location where you want the new directory to be placed.

Example: mkdir “path/to/new/directory” (Figure G)

Figure G

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8. Remove an empty directory

Command: rmdir

What it does: When you’ve created a folder that has the wrong name, you can easily use the mv command to rename it, or if you want to remove a directory altogether, use the rmdir command followed by the path to the directory.

Example: rmdir “path/to/directory” (Figure H)

Figure H

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9. Remove nested directories

Command: rm -R

What it does: When you want to remove an entire directory that might contain other directories or files, then the rm -R command is where you will turn. This command is irreversible,  (unlike deleting files in the Finder and being able to restore them from the Trash). When this command is executed, all files and directories inside of the path you specify will be deleted immediately. 

Example: rm -R “/path/to/root/directory” (Figure I)

Figure I

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10. Execute commands with superuser privileges

Command: sudo

What it does: sudo (or super user do) is a command that allows you to elevate your user privileges while executing the command to administrator privileges. This is required for some commands to run —for instance removing a file that is owned by another user. When you run this command, you will see a password field appear in the Terminal where you will need to type your user account password to finish the command execution.

Example: sudo “command” (Figure J)

Figure J

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11. List actively running computer processes

Command: top

What it does: You’ll see the stats of your system updated in the Terminal window, including the memory, CPU and disk utilization. You’ll also see a running list of the top apps using the CPU and their state, ports used, memory per app and more, without needing to open the Activity Monitor app on your Mac. This command will execute until you close the Terminal window or press Control + C to return execution back to the CLI.

Example: top (Figure K)

Figure K

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12. Quit sub-screen and return to Terminal

Command: q

What it does: For commands that run in perpetuity when executed, you can end execution of the process by pressing the q key on your keyboard. Alternatively you can also press Control+C.

Example: After executing a command, such as top to view active processes, press “q” to exit. (Figure L)

Figure L

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13. Clear the Terminal screen of all previous commands

Command: Clear

What it does: It removes all previously typed commands from the Terminal view and gives you back a clean slate to work from. Instead of typing clear, you can also alternatively press Command+K to perform the same action.

Example: clear (Figure M)

Figure M

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14. Copy contents of a folder to a new folder

Command: ditto

What it does: The ditto command will execute a copy of all of the contents of one folder into another folder that you specify. This is great for when you need to start a new project and use an older project as a base, or just copy files in a folder from your computer to an external drive. Add a -V as in the example below to get verbose output for each file copied.

Example: ditto -V MyFolder MyNewFolder (Figure N)

Figure N

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15. Get one-line description for a command

Command: whatis

What it does: When you want to get a short description of a command and what it does on your Mac, use this command to find out. 

Example: whatis “command” (Figure O)

Figure O

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16. Show manual page for a command

Command: man

What it does: Most commands in the Terminal ship with a manual that allows you to get help or look up arguments and other information on what a command does. Use this man command when you want to find more information about a particular command.

Example: man “command” (Figure P)

Figure P

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17. The “exit” command

Command: exit

What it does: This command will close out the current session in the Terminal. You can also simply close the window, but that may not be possible when you’re using SSH through Terminal to access a remote machine. In this instance, you’ll want to use exit to hang up that remote connection before closing the window.

Example: exit (Figure Q)

Figure Q

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What are your go-to Terminal commands?

While this article is more focused on those new to macOS or perhaps coming from another OS such as Windows, I hope that even experienced users will be able to reinforce their knowledge base.

What Terminal commands do you use most often? What Terminal commands would you add to this list? We’d love to hear from you! 

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Editor’s note: This article was originally written by Jesus Vigo and was updated by Cory Bohon to include additional information and updated commands. 



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New feature-packed Vissles keyboard accommodates fast-typing Mac users

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Rarely do Mac-specific keyboards offer responsive mechanical keys, backlighting and programmable features. A new Vissles version adds wireless connectivity to the list.

There’s a reason I’ve tested and reviewed numerous keyboards and mice. Dating to the late ’90s, I’ve continually explored a variety of input devices. Considering professionals typically use keyboards and mice thousands of hours a year, it’s important to appreciate and understand the importance these mechanical devices fulfill. Such equipment determines how we physically interact with computers, data, applications and platforms to earn a living. That’s why, when I hear of a new device offering a rare combination of features, I’m intrigued.

SEE: Change control policy (TechRepublic Premium)

That’s just what Vissles delivers with its new V84 Wireless Mechanical Keyboard, as shown in Figure A. Priced at $99 (on sale from a $119 list price), the keyboard ships with Mac-specific keys installed (although alternative Windows keycaps and corresponding tools for swapping them are included). Having used both Windows- and Mac-specific keyboards with Apple computers, decades of experience have taught me how much more I prefer keyboards featuring platform-specific keys, as they make it easier to instantly locate Command, Option and Control keys, as well as functions for increasing and decreasing key backlighting and display brightness.

Figure A

The Vissles V84 Wireless Mechanical Keyboard offers Mac-specific keycaps, SP Cherry-profile mechanical keys, macro capabilities and customizable backlighting.

Image: Vissles

Connecting the Vissles keyboard wirelessly to my MacBook Pro was easy. The process required less than a minute to complete.

Working in a darkened room, the default rainbow-colored backlighting made it easy to see and identify each key. With the compact layout (the keyboard doesn’t include an integrated numeric keypad), a row and column of keys are stacked at the top and right side of the board to provide additional functionality, despite the tight footprint.

SEE: Why the PS5 is the must-have gaming console of the year and everything you need to know about it (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

From the very first keystrokes, the initial sensation I noticed using the Vissles keyboard was just how quickly the keys respond. With the keys just 75% of traditional size, they are close together. The way they’re weighted, combined with the actuation mechanism for each key, make typing incredibly fast.

Those who enjoy geeking out on the specs will understand just how light and quick typing on the keyboard actually is. The 84 keys use VS Cherry-profile linear switch mechanical keys featuring PBT keycaps boasting RGB backlighting for each key, and the board and keys themselves weigh almost 11-and-a-half ounces. About 45±5gf of operating force is required to actuate the keys, while total travel is 4mm and pretravel is 2±0.5mm. A provided gel-like wrist pad, meanwhile, weighs just a quarter ounce and provides a handy addition when typing, as the Vissle’s keys sit slightly higher, as shown in Figure B, compared with many slimmer contemporary keyboards, such as Apple’s Magic Keyboard.

Figure B

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Although possessing a smaller footprint, the Vissles V84 Wireless Mechanical Keyboard’s keys are positioned higher than some contemporary competitors.

Image: Vissles

Unlike less-expensive models, the compact keyboard is surprisingly heavy, and that’s good. The keyboard sits firm and snug on a desk and, despite its compact footprint, is not easily dislodged by inadvertent bumps.

While I don’t require fancy backlighting—I really just need a backlight that, in low-light conditions, permits easily identifying each key quickly—the Vissles keyboard offers 19 different lighting effects and nine different colors you can select to illuminate the keys. Provided instructions clearly and succinctly enumerate each step for common processes, from changing backlighting to programming macros.

Whereas some wireless illuminated keyboards extinguish the backlight after a few seconds of inactivity, to understandably conserve battery life, the Vissles model packs a 3750mAh lithium battery and keeps the lights on, meaning the keys don’t go dark after just a few moments of inactivity. Thankfully, the keyboard lets you know when only 20% battery life remains by flickering the Fn key backlight. Charging the battery is easy; just connect the provided USB-C cable to a standard USB power source.

Depending on setup, you may receive up to 180 hours of use between charges. Such longevity can be achieved in Bluetooth (wireless) mode by setting the brightness level to low. Raising the brightness level to the highest setting, however, still provides up to 19 hours of continuous wireless use. The keyboard can be operated in wired mode, too. 

The Vissles V84 Wireless Mechanical Keyboard with Mac-specific keys has almost everything Mac users could want, as long as they’re prepared for quick response keys. While many fear mechanical keyboards for the traditional “click” sound associated with each keystroke, the keys supplied for this board, while interchangeable with compatible industry alternatives, are silent. Whether you’ve returned to working in the office or you’re working from home, others will likely be thankful for the quiet.

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Apple Watch Series 6: A cheat sheet

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Apple’s Watch Series 6 comes with blood-oxygen monitoring, a faster processor than the Series 5 and many other features. Get the specs, pricing and more details about Apple’s latest smartwatch.

Image: Apple

Apple rolled out its Apple Watch Series 6 on September 15, 2020 during its Time Flies event with a new health sensor that enables blood-oxygen monitoring and is “the most colorful lineup ever,” Apple COO Jeff Williams said. The health sensor shines red and infrared lights to calculate the color of a person’s blood, which indicates blood-oxygen level, in 15 seconds. It also captures periodic background readings and stores them while you sleep, Williams said.

This Apple Watch Series 6 cheat sheet includes details about additional features in the smartwatch, specs, pricing information and much more. This article will be updated if there is new information from Apple about the Watch Series 6.

SEE: Apple Watch Series 6: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

What is the Apple Watch Series 6?

The Apple Watch Series 6 is the successor to 2019’s high-end Series 5 Watch with a faster processor and enhanced health and design features. It comes with hardware improvements, including a faster S6 System in Package (SiP), watchOS 7, and next-generation always-on altimeter. There are also several options for Apple Watch finishes and bands.

The bulk of the core features and specs are the same as Apple Watch Series 5, but there are some notable changes. For specifics, read TechRepublic’s comparison of the Apple Watch Series 5 and the Watch Series 6.

SEE: Mobile device security policy (TechRepublic Premium)

What are the key features of the Apple Watch Series 6?

The most notable feature of the Apple Watch Series 6 is the blood-oxygen sensor. This is a particularly timely feature because pulse oximeters have been in high demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The watch’s operating system, watchOS 7, is powered with Apple’s new S6 silicon chip, and it has a dual-core processor that touts up to 20% faster performance. Apple reports that the Watch Series 6 maintains its 18-hour battery life.

The Apple Watch Series 6 offers a number of other health and fitness features including sleep tracking, automatic hand-washing detection, new workout types, and an overall focus on customers’ well-being.

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Image: Apple

Users can take on-demand measurements when they are still, and the watch will also do periodic background measurements while they are inactive, including during sleep. All data will be visible in the health app, Apple said; for instance, a user will be able to track trends over time to see how their blood-oxygen level changes.

The Apple Watch Series 6 has an always-on altimeter setting so a user can see elevation changes on a hike, for example, in real time. Users can measure their blood-oxygen saturation, which represents how much oxygen is carried by red blood cells from the lungs to the rest of the body, from the watch wherever they are. The Apple Watch Series 6 also features an ECG app that the company said can generate an ECG similar to an electrocardiogram. 

Apple is partnering with health networks and research universities to perform various studies, including testing to determine if someone has been infected with COVID-19 and to understand how blood-oxygen levels and other metrics can help manage heart failure.

At its WWDC 2021 keynote, Apple announced watchOS 8, and with it, several new features including greater access with Wallet, more capabilities with the Home app, new workout types and an updated Breathe app. When describing the new watchOS, Kevin Lynch, Apple’s vice president of Technology said, “With watchOS 8, we’re bringing more convenient access to places users live, work and visit with significant updates to Home and Wallet, expanding support for both physical and mental well-being and enabling richer personal connections with the new Portraits face and updates to Messages.”

With watchOS 8, Wallet brings more contact-free ways for users to access the places and things they care about seamlessly and securely. First announced at WWDC 2020, Ultra Wideband support is now available for digital car keys on Apple Watch Series 6. Apple Watch users can securely unlock their car from a distance and start it from the driver’s seat.

In fall 2021, users will also be able to add keys for their home, office and hotel to Wallet and use their Apple Watch to unlock. Later in 2021, in participating U.S. states, users can add their driver’s license or state ID to Wallet—select TSA checkpoints will be the first place users can begin using their digital ID, according to Apple.

Apple also redesigned the Home App in watchOS 8. The app now offers “more convenient access to accessories and scenes needed in a particular moment, and the ability to control accessories by room,” said Apple. Users with a HomeKit-enabled camera can now see who’s at the door from their wrist. Apple Watch users can also use the Intercom feature to broadcast a message throughout the home or to individual rooms via HomePod, HomePod mini or other personal devices.

New workout types, like Tai Chi and Pilates, are available on watchOS 8. According to Apple, “These workouts are supported by powerful, validated custom-built heart rate and motion algorithms to provide users with accurate metrics.”

Apple took a new approach to mindfulness with its latest update to watchOS—the Breathe app becomes the Mindfulness app in watchOS 8. Features include an enhanced Breathe experience and Reflect—a new session type that can help with focusing on mindful intention for as little as one minute and can be done anywhere, at any time. The Breathe and Reflect experiences also offer tips to help users get more from each session and feature animations, said Apple.

Other notable updates to watchOS 8 include:

  • Sleeping respiratory rate: Now, the Apple Watch Series 6 with watchOS 8 will monitor users’ time asleep, heart rate, blood oxygen and sleeping respiratory rate, which is the number of breaths per minute, using a built-in accelerometer. Users can view this information, along with trends over time, in the Health app on iPhone.
  • Portraits Watch Face and Photos: watchOS 8 introduces new ways to view and engage with users’ favorite photos right from their wrist. Apple’s new Portraits watch face brings portrait photos shot on iPhone to Apple Watch with “an immersive, multilayered effect, intelligently recognizing faces in photos and cropping in to highlight the subject,” explained Apple. The Photos app has also been redesigned, offering users new ways to view and navigate collections, Memories and Featured Photos via Apple Watch. Photos can also be shared through Messages and Mail with the new Share Sheet feature.
  • Messages and Contacts: watchOS 8 offers new tools in Messages—users can combine the use of Scribble, dictation, emoji or select from hundreds of trending GIFs, all within the same message. For dictated messages, users also have the option to edit presented text. watchOS 8 also brings the Contacts app to Apple Watch, so users can easily browse, add, edit and share contacts directly from the app.
  • Focus: The Focus feature is a “powerful set of tools available in iOS 15 to help users reduce distraction and be in the moment,” according to Apple; now, Focus is available on watchOS 8. Apple Watch Series 6 will automatically align with Focus on iOS, so notifications from people and apps are filtered based on the user’s current activity.
  • Multiple timers: Apple Watch Series 6 can now set multiple timers and be given a specific label using Siri (e.g., “Laundry Timer” or “Cooking Timer”).
  • Always-On display: In watchOS 8, more Apple Watch apps support Always-On display, including Maps, Mindfulness, Now Playing, Phone, Podcasts, Stopwatch, Timers, Voice Memos and more. watchOS 8 also enables developers to keep their apps timely and relevant with a new Always-On API for third-party apps.
  • AssistiveTouch: Designed to support Apple Watch users with upper-body limb differences, this feature enables one-arm usage of Apple Watch by sensing simple hand gestures to allow interaction, without touching the display. With built-in motion sensors, users can answer incoming calls, control an onscreen motion pointer and surface an action menu that can access Notification Center, Control Center and more.
  • Find Items/Find Devices: On Apple Watch Series 6, users can locate tagged items using Find My network. The new Find Devices app helps users locate lost Apple devices that are signed in using the same Apple ID.
  • Music: The Music app has been redesigned and now allows users to share songs, albums and playlists through Messages and Mail. Users can also enjoy music and radio all in one place.
  • Weather: The app now supports Severe Weather notifications—displaying government alerts about certain severe weather events. The app also features Next Hour precipitation alerts and updated complications.
  • Apple Fitness+: The fitness service expands its offering in watchOS 8 with Picture in Picture support and new filtering options. With watchOS 8, users can now stop and start an in-progress workout on any device. 

What is Family Setup?
Apple debuted a new Family Setup feature so parents can set up managed Apple watches for children and other family members who don’t have iPhones. Parents can also manage which contacts their kids can communicate with and set up location alerts, as well as a do-not-disturb mode when they are in school.

In addition, watchOS 7 offers features for older adults, such as a simplified on-boarding and configuration process and an extra-large watch face to display the time. 

At WWDC 2021, Apple announced that Family Setup will now include the ability to add transit cards from Hong Kong, Japan and select China mainland and U.S. cities. Calendar and Mail also now include the option to add a Google account.

SEE: BYOD (bring-your-own-device) policy (TechRepublic Premium)

Specs for the Apple Watch Series 6

  • Processor: S6 chip System in Package (SiP), a 64-bit dual-core processor based on the A13 Bionic chip
  • Design: U1 chip and Ultra Wideband antennas
  • Operating system: watchOS 7 or higher
  • Sizes: 40mm, 44mm
  • Battery life: 18 hours
  • Water resistance: Up to 50 meters
  • Music storage: 36 GB
  • Sensors: ECG, SpO2, heart rate, altimeter

What are the color, bands, and display options for the Apple Watch Series 6?

The Apple Watch Series 6 is offered in Space Gray, Silver, Blue, Gold and Apple Watch Product Red aluminum case options.

Apple offers a waterproof “Solo Loop” strap that is made from a stretchable, continuous piece of silicone that can be slipped on and off without any buckles or adjustments. It is available in a range of styles and seven colors. The watch also comes in a braided Solo Loop strap made from yarn and is available in five colors.

Another option is a new leather link strap with flexible molded magnets.

Numerals can be displayed in three ways. The Apple Watch Series 6 also comes with seven new watch face options, including Stripes, Chronograph Pro, GMT, and Artist. For instance, users could select from emoji faces that move and react to touch; or, the striped faces could be matched to what someone is wearing or to represent a favorite team. There are also watch faces for people interested in various activities such as surfing and photography. There is a watch face that displays multiple time zones at the same time.

With the release of watchOS 8 comes Apple’s new Portraits watch face. This feature brings immersive, multilayered portrait photos shot on iPhone to Apple Watch Series 6.

SEE: All of TechRepublic’s cheat sheets and smart person’s guides

Is the Apple Watch Series 6 eco-friendly?

During its Time Flies event, Apple employees discussed how eco-friendly both the company and the watch are not just in terms of energy usage but in the materials that are used. The Apple Watch Series 6 is made with 100% recycled tungsten and does not contain these harmful chemicals: BFR, PVB, beryllium or mercury. Also, the Apple Watch Series 6 is made with arsenic-free glass.

One significant change is that Apple is removing the USB power adapter from the Apple Watch, according to Lisa Jackson, Apple’s VP of environment, policy, and social initiatives.  

The Apple Watch Series 6 has an energy-efficient design so when someone is outdoors the display can be read even in the sun. Plus, it is 2.5 times brighter than the Apple Watch Series 5.

applewatchseries6-environment.jpg

Details about how Apple and the Watch Series 6 are environmentally friendly (slide is from Apple’s Sept. 2020 event).

Image: Screenshot by Mary Weilage/TechRepublic

What is Apple One?

The company is bundling some of its services under a new plan called Apple One. There are three tiers for the subscription service: 

  • An individual plan comes with iCloud, Apple Music, Apple Arcade, and Apple TV+ and starts at $14.95 per month;
  • a family plan costs $19.99 per month and can be shared with up to five family members; and
  • the premier subscription service costs $29.95 per month and includes these services plus news and fitness subscriptions and increases storage to 2 TB.

The new service is available this fall on a 30-days free trial basis. For more details, read sister site CNET’s article on 3 big questions that need to be answered about the Apple One subscription bundle.

What is Apple’s Fitness+ service?

Apple will roll out a new subscription-based service called Fitness+ later this year for use with the Apple Watch. Fitness+ offers 10 types of virtual workouts, music, and improved fitness tracking features. Many of the workouts require dumbbells or no equipment at all. Each week a new, wide variety of workouts will be delivered. 

The fitness service expands its offering in watchOS 8 with Picture in Picture support and new filtering options. With watchOS 8, users can now stop and start an in-progress workout on any device.

The service was “designed with privacy in mind,” and nothing is stored, the company said. 

Fitness+ is $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year. The first three months are free.

SEE: 5 Apple Watch apps to simplify your workday (TechRepublic)

What is the price for an Apple Watch Series 6? 

The Apple Watch Series 6 starts at $399 (GPS) and $499 (GPS + Cellular). 

In tandem with the Apple Watch Series 6 announcement, Apple said it has also created the Apple Watch SE model, which comes with the same features as last year’s Watch Series 5 and retails for a more affordable price that starts at $279.

The Apple Watch Series 3 is still available for $199.

For more details, read this comparison of the Apple Watch Series 6 vs. Watch Series 3 and Watch SE.

When and where can I buy an Apple Watch Series 6?

Apple Watch Series 6 (GPS) is available to preorder now from Apple.com, in the Apple Store app, and from retail stores, including Best Buy, Target, Amazon and B&H. It will be available to purchase beginning September 18, 2020 in the U.S., Puerto Rico and 27 other countries and regions.

The cellular version (GPS + Cellular) of the Apple Watch Series 6 is available to order now from Apple.com and in the Apple Store app, with availability beginning September 18, 2020 in the U.S., Puerto Rico and 21 other countries and regions. For carrier availability and details about which countries and regions it’s available, visit apple.com/watch/cellular.

If you have an older Apple Watch model and plan to upgrade to the Series 6, learn about options for selling, trading in, donating, or recycling your current Apple Watch.

What are the top alternatives to the Apple Watch Series 6?

If you don’t want to be tied to Apple’s smartwatch ecosystem and don’t need to read iMessages from your wrist, there are other options. Here are three alternatives to the Apple Watch Series 6.

One high-end option is the Fitbit Sense, which retails for $329. The Fitbit Sense comes with tools for stress management, heart health, SpO2, skin temperature, among others. Fitbit was the original fitness- and activity-tracking smart band company, launching its first product in 2009.

Another Apple Watch alternative is the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3. Its features include sleep tracking, advanced workout tracking, an above-average battery life, and an ECG sensor to diagnose atrial fibrillation. The Galaxy Watch 3 costs $399.

The Garmin vivomove HR, which starts at $199.99, offers wellness monitoring tools, such as all-day stress tracking and a relaxation timer. The watch also includes advanced sleep monitoring with REM sleep. The vivomove HR also displays steps, calories, distance, heart rate, intensity minutes, and VO2 max.

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Apple’s WWDC 2021: Five new privacy features announced

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Apple’s WWDC 2021: Five new privacy features announced

Length: 7:45 |
Jun 8, 2021

Brandon Vigliarolo talks to Karen Roby about the new privacy features that Apple revealed during the keynote of WWDC 2021.



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macOS Monterey: A cheat sheet

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Apple’s powerful new macOS was announced at WWDC 2021. This guide covers everything you need to know about macOS Monterey, including features, requirements and how to get it.

Image: Apple

During the keynote of Apple’s WWDC21 conference on June 7, 2021, the company announced its long-awaited new macOS: Monterey. Like WWDC 2020, this year’s week-long conference aimed at developers around the world is virtual and free to the public via Apple’s website, the Apple Developer app, the Apple TV app and YouTube. 

With macOS Monterey, Apple is sticking with the theme of naming its OSs after California locales. This version of macOS offers many new features for users, including Universal Control, Shortcuts and AirPlay for iMac, updated capabilities in FaceTime, a redesign for Safari (including Tab Groups) and more. 

This macOS Monterey cheat sheet details the operating system’s main features, lists which devices support the OS, explains how to get it and more. We’ll update this macOS 12 guide when new features are released.

SEE: How to build a successful developer career (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

What is macOS Monterey?

MacOS Monterey is Apple’s newest operating system, and it’s designed to be completely seamless across all Apple devices. It’s even more customizable than previous OSs, and it allows users to share content with friends and across iPad and iOS like never before. According to Apple, macOS Monterey offers “new ways for users to connect, get more done and work more fluidly across their Apple devices.”

What are the main features of macOS Monterey?

Universal Control
One of the most interesting features Apple announced for macOS Monterey is Universal Control. With this feature, users can utilize a single mouse or keyboard to work between Macs and iPads seamlessly—no setup required. Users can drag and drop files between devices; this is intended to allow users to work with fewer interruptions and increase productivity.  

Improvements to Safari
Safari is getting a makeover. Now, users can use Apple’s new tab design to see more of the page as they scroll. The new tab bar assumes the color of the webpage and combines tabs, the toolbar and search field into a single place.

Apple also introduced Tab Groups for Safari, which is ideal for planning projects and storing tabs that users visit on a regular basis. Tab Groups syncs across Mac, iPhone and iPad to allow for easy sharing. Safari will now offer Privacy Reports and Intelligent Tracking Prevention for a more secure browsing experience.  

Shortcuts for Mac
Shortcuts will now be available on Macs as well. With Shortcuts, users can get more done faster and automate tasks for productivity. As with the iPhone and iPad, Mac users can quickly accomplish tasks with their most-used apps. The Shortcuts Editor on Mac allows users to customize shortcuts to match workflows. It is available via Finder, the menu bar, Spotlight and hands-free with Siri. Automator workflows can also be imported, making it easier to get up and running right away. 

SEE: Mobile device security policy (TechRepublic Premium)

New FaceTime capabilities
FaceTime has new audio and video features that make calls feel more natural and lifelike. Using spatial audio and Voice Isolation, voices in a FaceTime call sound like they are coming from where the person is positioned on the screen and ensures that the user’s voice is clear. The feature uses machine learning to eliminate background noise and Wide Spectrum to allow all the sound in the area to come through so participants can hear everything. Using the Apple Neural Engine in the M1 chip, the user’s background is blurred for a stunning video effect in Portrait Mode, and the new Grid View shows participants in same-sized tiles.

SharePlay 
This set of features enables users to have shared experiences while on a FaceTime call; they can share their favorite music, TV shows, movies, projects and more with friends, family or colleagues in real time (collaborating in apps through screen sharing). SharePlay also has an API built for easy adoption, meaning third-party developers can share their apps in FaceTime.

Shared with You 
This feature makes it simple to locate content that’s shared through Messages, including photos, videos, articles and more. Users can review shared content via the Shared with You tab within Photos, Safari, Apple Podcasts, Apple News and the Apple TV app.

AirPlay for Mac
Now users can play, present and share anything with whomever they choose across all Apple devices. The high-fidelity sound system on the Mac can also be used as an AirPlay speaker, allowing users to play music, podcasts or use the Mac as a secondary speaker for multi-room audio. 

SEE: All of TechRepublic’s cheat sheets and smart person’s guides

Updates to Notes
In Notes, users can work through projects with friends or colleagues, add mentions, see edits in the new Activity View and categorize Notes with tags to quickly and easily find them in the new Tag Browser and in tag-based Smart Folders.

Quick Note
According to Apple, Quick Note is “a new way for users to jot down notes on any app or website systemwide, making it easy to capture thoughts and ideas wherever inspiration strikes.” Links from any app can also be added to Quick Notes.

iCloud+
Apple’s iCloud+ offers users new premium features, including Hide My Email, expanded HomeKit Secure Video support and an innovative new internet privacy service called iCloud Private Relay (no additional cost).

Focus
With the new Focus feature, users can automatically filter out notifications unrelated to their current activity and signal their status to let others know when they are not available. Focus automatically sets across other Apple devices and can be customized based on current activity.

Privacy updates 
With Mail Privacy Protection, users can choose whether emails can collect information about their Mail activity. The Mac recording indicator now also shows which app may be accessing the Mac’s microphone.

SEE: How to migrate to a new iPad, iPhone, or Mac (TechRepublic Premium)

Accessibility updates 
Now anyone can add alternative image descriptions using Markup. Other updates include improved Full Keyboard Access, and new cursor customization options allow for more flexibility when navigating Mac.

Updates to Maps
With the new interactive globe in Maps, it now has an immersive, detailed city experience. 

Live Text
Using on-device machine learning to detect text in photos (phone numbers, websites, addresses, tracking numbers, etc.), Live Text allows users to copy and paste, make phone calls, open websites and find more information. The Visual Lookup feature is intended to help users discover and learn about various topics like animals, art, landmarks, etc. These features work across macOS, including in apps like Photos, Messages and Safari.

AirPods Pro and AirPods Max 
AirPods Pro and AirPods Max now use spatial audio on Macs with the M1 chip to deliver a better listening experience.

SEE: 10 ways to prevent developer burnout (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Which devices support macOS Monterey?

MacOS Monterey is available on MacBook Pro (2016 and later), MacBook (2016 and later), MacBook Air (2018 and later), iMac (2017 and later), iMac (5K Retina 27-inch, Late 2015), iMac Pro, Mac mini (2018 and later) and Mac Pro (2019). It is also available for iPad Pro, iPad Air (3rd generation and later), iPad (6th generation and later) and iPad mini (5th generation and later). 

In order to update to macOS Monterey on Mac and iPad, both devices must be signed in to iCloud with the same Apple ID using two-factor authentication and cannot share a cellular and internet connection. To use wirelessly, both devices must have Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Handoff turned on and must be within 30 feet of each other. To use over USB, you must trust your Mac on the iPad.

When can I get macOS Big Sur?

According to Apple’s site, the developer beta of macOS Monterey is available to Apple Developer Program members at developer.apple.com starting June 7, 2021. The public beta will be available to Mac users in July 2021 via beta.apple.com, and macOS Monterey will be available fall 2021 as a free software update. Some features may not be available in all regions or languages.

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Apple iOS 15 cheat sheet: Everything you need to know

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Apple’s latest mobile operating system has been announced. Learn all about the new features of iOS 15, find out if it will work with your devices and learn how to install it.

Image: Apple

The latest version of Apple’s operating system for mobile devices, iOS 15, was announced on June 7, 2021, at the company’s Worldwide Developer Conference. The beta version of iOS 15 was released the same day to developers, with a public beta expected in the summer of 2021. 

This new version of iOS includes many new features relevant to consumers and developers alike, including: an emphasis on communication changes, the ability to focus on specific aspects of your life, on-device intelligence and exploring the world.

Apple is expected to release iOS 15 to the public in Fall 2021.

SEE: Hiring kit: iOS developer (TechRepublic Premium)

What is iOS 15?

iOS 15 is Apple’s latest mobile operating system that supports iPhones and iPod touch devices. It was announced at Apple’s 2021 WWDC and includes many new features and services that will be available for iOS devices (see the section below to find out if your device is supported).

SEE: WWDC 2021: MacOS Monterey, iOS 15, iPadOS 15, WatchOS 8 among the essentials for business pros (TechRepublic)

This new version of iOS includes many new features that are relevant to consumers, developers and enterprise customers. These features include additions to communication, improvements for users to be able to focus on specific tasks and contacts at hand and world-interaction features.

Will iOS 15 work on my device? 

Most hardware that supported iOS 14 will also support iOS 15, including the following Apple devices that are available at the time of this writing: 

  • iPhone 12
  • iPhone 12 mini
  • iPhone 12 Pro
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 6s
  • iPhone 6s Plus
  • iPhone SE (first generation)
  • iPhone SE (second generation)
  • iPod touch (seventh generation)

SEE: How to migrate to a new iPad, iPhone, or Mac (TechRepublic Premium)

What are the key iOS 15 features?

Communications 

FaceTime

FaceTime is receiving a substantial update with iOS 15, to make video chatting more natural, comfortable and lifelike. This starts with the FaceTime app supporting Spatial Audio that Apple pioneered with AirPods Pro. This means that audio will sound as though it’s coming from the device when wearing Spatial Audio-compatible AirPods. 

FaceTime will also receive an update that lets you block out ambient noise through a feature called Voice Isolation. Machine learning will power this feature that isolates your voice and blocks all other noise.

In iOS 14, Apple unveiled a new view for multi-person video calling that supported live tiles that increase in size based on who is speaking. While many users liked this feature, many did not. Apple is making a change that lets you pick between the live tiles view and a grid view that will show all video participants in the same size grids so you can easily see all participants at the same time. 

The biggest announcements for FaceTime revolve around two new features: FaceTime Links and Share Play. 

SEE: WWDC 2021: The 5 best iOS 15 features for business pros (TechRepublic)

FaceTime links will allow you to schedule a FaceTime meeting in advance, then send the link out to participants via email, iMessage, or a calendar invite. When a user clicks the link, it will automatically open FaceTime if their device supports it, and if the participant is on Windows, Android or another device incapable of using FaceTime, a web browser will open that lets them securely join the call without the FaceTime app. 

Share Play is another notable FaceTime feature that unlocks three new features for users: Listening to music together, watching videos together and screen-sharing together. 

Listening to music and watching videos together will synchronize the audio so that all viewers are watching at the exact same moment while also being able to video chat at the same time. Utilize Picture in Picture to accomplish other tasks while this is going on, or AirPlay to an Apple TV or other AirPlay compatible display to get a split view where the video appears on the larger screen and video chat occurs on the device screen. 

In addition, Share Play also supports the ability to share your screen with other FaceTime participants to give help to someone or to demo something on your screen. 

Messages

Messages introduce a few new niceties that will allow for better searching, better app integration and photo management. 

The first new feature is when your device is in Do Not Disturb mode, Messages will display that status to anyone attempting to contact you. They will be alerted that you’re in Do Not Disturb mode before sending the message. They can still choose to interrupt you for important messages, however, and you will be notified of them despite being in Do Not Disturb mode.

SEE: Apple’s credit card gets a family plan with new Apple Card Family program (TechRepublic)

If you share a lot of photos with the Messages app, then you know that sending a lot of photos involves spamming the chat with each photo on its own chat line. With Photo Stacks, Messages will resolve this by combining multiple sent photos into a single carousel view that can be flipped between or tapped to get a grid view of all the photos. 

The Photos app can also pull in photos that include those sent in Messages by others. You will no longer need to manually pull out photos individually from the Messages app. 

The last major feature to Messages is the ability to pin items in a chat, which can be more easily found when searching in Messages. This is great for coming back to a video, link or photo later on when you have time.

Focus

ios15-notificationsummary.jpg

Notification Summary lets you specify a time to get non-urgent notifications delivered as a digest so you can catch up on what you missed throughout the day.

Image: Apple

Apple is wanting users to more easily focus on the task at hand with iOS 15 by introducing two new features: Notification Schedules and Summary, and Focus mode.

Notification Schedules and Summary

Notifications have been redesigned to include larger icons, user profile photos for Messages and larger photos to make them easier to distinguish between one another. In addition, you can now set specific apps as non-priority so that you don’t see them throughout the day and instead get a Notification Summary at your chosen time to be able to catch up on non-priority notifications at your convenience. Important communication notifications will always come through, but being able to set which notifications you need will go a long way to improving focus when working or on family time. 

SEE: One Apple platform in 2021: The year iPad and Mac begin to converge (TechRepublic)

Focus Mode

Focus mode lets you create a space to focus on (for work, for personal, workouts, etc.). Creating a Focus Mode lets you specify which apps, Home Screens and contacts you will have access to while in that mode. When swapping between modes, any irrelevant apps or contacts will be ignored. 

ios15-livetext.jpg

Live Text allows you to use the camera to grab text out of real-world environments. Want to dial a phone number on a business card? Use the camera, then tap the phone number to dial it.

Image: Apple

Focuses created on one device will be synced through iCloud to additional devices so you can easily share focuses from iPhone with iPad and Mac.

On-device Intelligence 

Apple is continuing to improve the on-device machine learning and data processing through their new iOS 15 on-device intelligence features below. 

Live Text

This feature allows users to easily preview a photo (or use the camera pointed at text) and select text directly from the photo or even dial phone numbers without typing the number directly into your iPhone. Text from photos is automatically OCRed and can be pasted into emails, chats or any other apps that support pasting plain text. At launch, this feature will support the following languages automatically: English, Chinese, French, Italian, German, Portuguese and Spanish. 

Spotlight 

ios15-spotlight.jpg

Spotlight’s new rich data views will let you do a lot of contact searching or basic web searches without ever leaving your Home Screen.

Image: Apple

Spotlight is getting additional upgrades that come in two areas: Photo search is now possible, thanks to the Live Text feature, to search through photos containing specific people, scenes or text in the photo. In addition, rich results are now returned for contacts you search and include the ability to initiate a call with the context, text them or see appointments, notes and files that mention them. 

Photo Memories

Photos is an app that consistently sees improvements thanks to on-device machine learning. In iOS 15, Photo Memories has received a significant improvement. This feature will stitch together relevant photos and videos to create a video with a song selected from Apple Music that matches the occasion and beat of the song to the action in the video. You can edit the style of the video and new music will automatically be selected to match the styling. 

Exploring the world

ios15cardswallet.jpg

Apple is making a big push to make the digital wallet even better by allowing you to ditch your driver’s license if your state supports it.

Image: Apple

Wallet 

Apple introduced Car Keys in Wallet as a part of iOS 14; however this feature is much improved and expanded in iOS 15. Car Keys, hotel keys and passes can now be added into the Wallet app. Continuing on Apple’s goal to digitize the entire physical wallet, it is also partnering with specific states to allow you to scan your driver’s license into the Wallet app and use the digital license for everything. The TSA is even on board and will be the first to participate in this program. 

Weather 

Apple purchased Dark Sky a little over a year ago, and it is bringing many of those weather features over into the default Weather app in iOS 15. A new design will feature a layout that changes based on current outside conditions, and new weather data that is sure to make any weather nerd happy. 

iOS 15 weather

Image: Apple

Maps

Apple is greatly improving the Maps app in iOS 15 by adding new “City Experiences” into maps. For select cities, important landmarks will be included as digitized 3D models, and new data will offer information about commercial districts, road colors and labels. In addition, a new night time mode will allow exploring cities in a moonlit environment. 

iOS 15 maps

Image: Apple

There are new driving directions that add and improve road details, and will now include information on the road you’re traveling, such as bike lane information, taxi lanes and more. This will allow drivers to more safely travel with the aid of GPS. 

Transit riders can now pin their favorite lines and get notification on watchOS when it’s time to disembark when approaching the destination. 

Lastly, Maps adds a new augmented reality view to select cities. Use the camera to scan buildings and get walking directions overlaid in a camera view in supported cities. At launch, this will be available in London, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia and San Diego, and more will be added later this year. 

Privacy

ios15-appprivacyreport.jpg

Privacy Reports in iOS 15 will allow you to keep a check on apps and what they’re doing with your data.

Image: Apple

Apple continued its stance on making iOS the most secure mobile operating system in the world with iOS 15 changes based around privacy. These new features include Privacy reports, Mail and Siri. 

In Mail, Apple is enabling the user to block pixel tracking and will obfuscate the IP address so that senders cannot track your email reading. 

For Siri, Apple will begin doing the speech recognition for Siri on device by default, which means that your voice will not be sent to Apple’s servers at all in order to be transcribed for Siri. This is also a speed benefit because it means that requests can often be processed quicker. 

Apple is introducing a new Privacy Report feature for apps that can be accessed to see how well certain apps are behaving when it comes to your privacy. The report will detail the permissions you’ve granted them, which third-party domains they contact, and how recently they made contact.

Other notable iOS 15 features

  • Memoji features new clothing, glasses, headwear and eye color customizations that users can pick from.
  • Maps will feature editorial-curated guides for cities and places to visit when traveling.
  • Safari has been completely redesigned with tabs that are swipeable, a new smart search field, and the ability to install third-party web extensions just like on macOS.
  • Wallet now supports office keys for corporate badges and the ability to archive passes that are not in current use.
  • Photos includes a new Info panel that displays information such as the camera, lens and shutter speed, the file size, or who sent a Shared with You photo in Messages. You can also edit the date taken or location, add a caption, and learn about items detected by Visual Look Up.
  • Health app lets you easily share your data with others, see Lab information from health providers, and view health trends.
  • Secure paste means that apps won’t see what you’ve copied until you specifically give them access.
  • Siri now has offline support for many tasks, including Timers & Alarms, Phone, Messaging, Sharing, App Launch, Control Audio Playback and Settings.
  • Apple ID can now participate in Apple’s Digital Legacy program to allow family members or loved ones the ability to access your data after you die. In addition, if you get locked out of your Apple ID, you can specify trusted contacts who can supply you a code to instantly get access back to your locked out account. 
  • VoiceOver now supports the ability to explore images and get details about people, objects, text and tables within images.
  • The App Library feature now lets you easily reorder Home Screens.
  • Apple Pay has redesigned the payment flow screen to allow users the ability to enter things like coupon codes or additional information that the merchant allows.
  • Camera includes a new panorama mode that has improved geometric distortion and better captures moving subjects while also reducing image noise and banding.
  • CarPlay can now announce messages and notifications.
  • FindMy can be used to find supported models of AirPods in the same way that users can find AirTag devices.
  • Apple has brought back the magnifying loupe for text entry when pressing and holding on the cursor
  • Software update will now allow you to stay on the previous major version and still receive security updates, or move to the latest for feature and security updates.
  • Temporary iCloud storage allows you to use iCloud to transfer to a new device even if you don’t have enough free space in iCloud. Apple will grant you free storage for this process. 
  • Additional system widgets including ones for Mail, App Store, sleep data, Game Center, Find My and Contacts. 

SEE: Getting started with iOS development (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

How do I get iOS 15?

To get iOS 15 now, you must be a member of the iOS Developer Program. As a member, you can log into Apple’s Developer Downloads page and install a profile that will allow you to check for updates and install the iOS 15 betas by performing these steps (after the profile is installed): 

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Select General | Software Update. 
  3. Select Download & Install when the iOS 15 beta appears. 
  4. Your device will download the update, install and restart automatically after you agree to the terms and conditions.

You should only install iOS 15 beta on devices dedicated to running the beta. Betas typically have bugs that could impact day-to-day work, and as such, you should proceed with caution. 

I expect Apple will release a public beta program later in the summer of 2021 that will allow users to sign up to get beta releases at beta.apple.com.

What’s the release history of iOS 15?

June 7, 2021:

Apple unveils iOS 15 to developers at WWDC and releases a beta for developers to download and begin creating apps. 

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WWDC 2021: Apple adds new privacy features to iCloud, Siri, Mail and more

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Apple is once again demonstrating that it’s all in on privacy with new user-protecting features for Mail, Siri, iCloud and additional app-tracking metrics.

Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, discussing privacy at WWDC 2021

Screenshot image: Brandon Vigliarolo/TechRepublic

Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference has officially kicked off, and with it a number of new privacy announcements further emphasizing the company’s commitment to keeping its customers’ data safe while foiling less-than-trustworthy data brokers.

While there wasn’t a single hardware announcement, as was hoped and predicted, the software announcements that Apple made at WWDC 2021 were extensive and are likely to be well-received by iPhone, iPad and Mac users, and privacy stands out as a central theme.

Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi said this during the keynote about the company’s position on privacy: “We believe privacy is a fundamental human right … you shouldn’t have to make a trade-off between great features and privacy—we believe you deserve both.” 

SEE: The best programming languages to learn–and the worst (TechRepublic Premium)

As for specific announcements regarding privacy in Apple’s ecosystem, new features are coming to the Mail app, Siri, app tracking and a new iCloud+ plan of which a VPN-like privacy feature is only one part.

New privacy features in the Mail app, Settings app and Siri

In the Mail app, Apple is taking action against tracking pixels. As small as a single 1×1 pixel of white space hidden in the footer of an email, tracking pixels can deliver IP addresses, email opening date and time, physical location and other personally identifying information. To combat this widely used tactic, Apple’s Mail app is getting a feature called Mail Privacy Protection that allows users to choose to hide IP addresses, mask physical locations and block read receipts. 

The Settings app is getting a new App Privacy Report, which looks and feels similar to the existing Battery Usage report that shows which apps are draining the battery on an iOS device. The App Privacy Report provides information on how often apps have used the permissions users grant them over the past week, such as accessing the camera, Photos or microphone, as well as showing which third-party domains the data is being shared with. The list of third-party domains may be particularly useful for those concerned about privacy, as further research can reveal which organizations are tied to those domains and how they may use personally identifiable information. 

A new Siri feature is not only fantastic for privacy but for usability as well: on-device speech recognition. Voice recordings will never get sent to Apple or broadcast over the web, and many of Siri’s features will be usable without an internet connection. Starting timers, adding a calendar event, launching apps and other features can be done without having to transmit data to Apple. These changes also mean that Siri’s response time should be greatly reduced, Apple said.

New privacy features in iCloud

Apple’s iCloud is getting a total revamp of its subscription service, but iCloud subscribers don’t need to worry: iCloud+, the new moniker for premium iCloud plans, won’t include any pricing changes. 

The biggest new privacy-related feature included in iCloud+ is the VPN-like Private Relay, which is available to iCloud+ customers using Safari. Private Relay encrypts all data being sent through Safari and bounces it through two relays, which further anonymize the traffic to counter tracking cookies and other privacy-infringing trackers commonly used by websites. No one, including Apple, will be able to tell who you are or what websites you’re visiting, Apple said during the keynote. 

SEE: Cloud Data Storage Policy (TechRepublic Premium)

iCloud+ users are also getting a new Hide My Email feature that will let them generate random email addresses that forward to another address for use when filling out online forms. The addresses are unique and can be deleted at any time. 

New security camera features for iCloud+ will allow subscribers to connect an unlimited number of cameras and store feed recordings in iCloud without recordings counting against storage capacity.

iCloud is getting several new features for non-paid users as well. A new recovery contact list allows iCloud users to select friends to add to a list of people who can be sent one-time codes in case a user is locked out of their account (this doesn’t give them any direct access), and a new Digital Legacy program will allow users to specify people to give access to an iCloud account in the event of the user’s death. 

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WWDC 2021: MacOS Monterey, iOS 15, iPadOS 15, WatchOS 8 among the essentials for business pros

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FaceTime offers new features akin to Zoom, privacy gets a boost, and digital ID cards are being added to Apple Wallet.

Apple CEO Tim Cook at WWDC 2021

Screenshot image: Teena Maddox/TechRepublic

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At the WWDC 2021 keynote on Monday, Apple gave a first peek of MacOS Monterey and announced iOS 15, iPadOS 15 and WatchOS 8. These software updates include a host of improvements to FaceTime, Wallet, Maps, Health, Weather, Music and more. 

“Our OS releases will be available as developer betas today, and each of them will have a public beta next month, and all of this incredible software will be available to all of our users this fall,” said Tim Cook, CEO, at the keynote. 

Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering for Apple, said during the Worldwide Developers Conference that MacOS Monterey will replace MacOS Big Sur, which came out last year. 

SEE: How to migrate to a new iPad, iPhone, or Mac (TechRepublic)

FaceTime to compete with Zoom

As part of iOS 15, FaceTime is going head-to-head with Zoom and other video conference apps through SharePlay. With SharePlay, users get a link to share for a FaceTime call that they can share and use at any time for a group call. The link can be used on non-Apple devices. FaceTime is also getting spatial audio and a grid view, as well as a portrait mode option so that backgrounds can be blurred (just like Zoom) and people can opt for a softer appearance if they choose. 

New options for Notifications are being added, to personalize when notifications are given, with Personal, Work, Shop and Do Not Disturb as four options shown during the keynote. Users will see if someone has set Do Not Disturb and they’ll have the option to ring through if it’s truly urgent. 

iPadOS 15 updates

One of the new features for iPadOS includes the new Translate feature coming to iPad, which allows the user to practice writing languages on their iPad. It also offers Auto Translate, which detects which language is being spoken and automatically translates it with no need to tap a button. It even translates text in a photo. 

Advanced privacy features

There are advanced privacy features across all devices, with Mail Privacy Protection hiding your IP address, hiding if you open an email and hiding your IP address from trackers. There’s also an App Privacy Report that gives an overview of how apps are treating your privacy. It shows how often they access your information and who they are sharing it with. 

Siri is getting a major overhaul on privacy. Audio never leaves the device now, and having on-device processing will speed up overall processing, whether it’s opening photos, sending a text message, or requesting to set an alarm. 

New search features for Photos

Photos will be more useful with Live Text, using a deep neural network, so that text in the background of photos can be searched, even from old photos on an iPhone, and phone numbers in photos can be called. This text can also be cut and pasted. There’s also the ability to take a photo of, say, a white board, and cut and pasting that text into an email. There’s also a visual look up option called Spotlight that allows the user to look up a dog breed, flower, artwork, books, a landmark or other such item on a photo and find out more about it.

Apple Wallet gets richer

Car Keys in the Apple Wallet are being improved with Ultra-wideband support for an Unlock and Drive experience. BMW and other auto manufacturers will ship cars with UWB starting later this year, and Wallet will hold those keys, said Jennifer Bailey, senior vice president of hardware technology for Apple, during the keynote. 

“We’re creating the fastest, most secure way to unlock your house, apartment or flat, and where you work. Just add your corporate badge and tap to enter their building or office. And where you travel, with hotel keys, you’ll automatically receive your key when your room is ready even before you arrive at the hotel. Starting this fall, Hyatt hotels will start rolling this out to over a thousand properties worldwide creating a faster and safer experience for their guests,” Bailey said.

Beginning this fall, identity cards will be added to Apple Wallet, and the TSA is working to enable airport security checkpoints as the first place where digital IDs can be used, Bailey said. 

Weather and Maps get a boost

The Weather App and Maps are being updated as well. The Weather App will show new backgrounds and layouts based on the air quality and weather conditions. And Maps has new, more detailed maps and navigation whether people are walking, driving, or working on their laptop. 

No more losing AirPods

AirPods are now easier to find with advanced Find My features. There’s a separation alert in iOS 15 that allows the user to receive a notification if their AirPods Pro or AirPods Max are left behind. And there’s also a new Conversation Boost feature in AirPods to help people with mild hearing challenges stay more connected in conversations. 

WatchOS 8 updates

Apple Watch has WatchOS 8 on the way, with new features for health, updates to the Breathe app, and a new Reflect feature. The Reflect and Breath features will be part of the new Mindfulness app. A new features for the Sleep app is measuring the user’s respiratory rate and now many breaths a person takes per minute while sleeping.

Apple Health gets three new features

Three new features to identify, measure and understand health changes are coming to Apple Health. Walking Steadiness will give insight through mobility data on a user’s iPhone and help measure their mobility and their fall risk. The user’s step length, walking speed and how evenly they walk are assessed, giving data on their balance, stability and coordination. Apple used real world data from the Apple Heart and Movement Study with over 100,000 participants across all ages to study fall risk. 

There’s also Trends, that shows your test results and changes over time. There are detailed descriptions to help users better understand lab data and if they’re within normal ranges. There’s also Health Sharing, which is a private and secure way to view health data, trends and alerts for the user and their family members that wish to share their data, such as a partner, children and perhaps aging parents. 

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