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Apple's iOS 15.1 is here, and it's kind of a big deal
It's obviously not as significant as a proper version update, but iOS 15.1 does come with a list of features that iPhone owners have been waiting for.
I’m not gonna beat around the bush: I was pretty relieved that iOS 15.1 dropped yesterday. My reaction on Twitter:
Typically, Apple won’t take long to ship the first point update after a major new version of iOS is released. That’s exactly what happened with iOS 15.1 which was released just over a month after iOS 15 came out.
This update was well received by those who installed the beta. It’s got features that didn’t ship with iOS 15 along with some really nice improvements, particularly for the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max. Sometimes, a software update can make a big difference in your experience with a phone, and while this update doesn’t perfect anything, it makes it feel much more complete.
SharePlay in FaceTime
Unless you went hunting for it, you probably didn’t know SharePlay wasn’t available in FaceTime with the initial iOS 15 release. With iOS 15.1, the feature is live and ready to be used.
It works by letting you stream content from services like Disney Plus, Netflix, or Apple Music with friends over FaceTime calls. Each member on your call will have to have an active subscription for it to work, and it’s very obviously a feature born out of the pandemic as a first-party alternative to “virtual watch parties.” Still, it’s nice to see it finally ship with iOS 15.1, especially after being left out of iOS 15.0.
For iPhone 13 Pro users, ProRes video is now available. This is a higher-end codec used mainly by professional videographers for more control over how video looks like in post production. For the first time on a phone, you can capture it, but it has its limitations.
For one, you have to have an iPhone 13 Pro or 13 Pro Max with more than 128GB of storage to record at 4K/30fps. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck at 1080p/30fps. In addition, the actual video files will be huge. A single minute of 4K footage using the barebones ProRes 4:2:2 LT codec will cost you 3GB of storage, so be careful how much you’re shooting if you won’t be regularly offloading.
Manual macro mode
ProRes video is nice, but I know a lot of iPhone 13 Pro owners will be happier about this feature: the ability the turn auto macro mode off. Before, if you got close enough to an object with your camera, Apple would assume you wanted to shoot in macro mode using the ultra-wide sensor and switch over. This can lead to some missed shots of not-necessarily close-ups like plates of food.
Luckily, in the Settings app, there’s now an option to disable this feature and let you enable it manually through the Camera app itself. Thank God.
Apple is now letting you add your COVID-19 vaccination card to your Wallet, similar to what Google has on Android through Google Pay. There are some Shortcut improvements in iOS 15.1 as well, in addition to Home and Translate updates.
If you wanna check them out, the full release notes can be found below.
SharePlay is a new way to share synchronized experiences in FaceTime with content from the Apple TV app, Apple Music, Fitness+, and other supported App Store apps
Shared controls give everyone the ability to pause, play, rewind or fast forward
Smart volume automatically lowers the audio of a movie, TV show or song when your friends speak
Apple TV supports the option to watch the shared video on your big screen while you continue the FaceTime call on iPhone
Screen sharing lets everyone on a FaceTime call look at photos, browse the web, or help each other out
ProRes video capture using iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max
Setting to turn off automatic camera switching when taking macro photos and videos on iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max
COVID-19 vaccination card support allows you to add and present verifiable vaccination information from Apple Wallet
Mandarin Chinese (Taiwan) support in the Translate app and for system-wide translation
New automation triggers based on the current reading of a HomeKit-enabled humidity, air quality, or light level sensor
New pre-built actions let you overlay text on images or gifs, plus a new collection of games lets you pass the time with Siri
This release also fixes the following issues:
Photos app may incorrectly report storage is full when importing photos and videos
Weather app may not show current temperature for My Location, and may display colors of animated backgrounds incorrectly
Audio playing from an app may pause when locking the screen
Wallet may unexpectedly quit when using VoiceOver with multiple passes
Available Wi-Fi networks may not be detected
Battery algorithms updated on iPhone 12 models to better estimate battery capacity over time
iPadOS 15.1 and macOS Monterey are also out
In addition, iPadOS 15.1 and macOS Monterey have also dropped. Why didn’t I make the focus of this newsletter macOS Monterey? Because I have yet to care about macOS. I’ve got a fresh 14-inch MacBook Pro coming later this week, so I’m sure I’ll be covering the update in more detail soon. Until then, know that it boasts essentially what’s in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, just in Mac form.
iPadOS 15.1 is essentially iOS 15.1, just in iPad form. I assume there are some extra bug fixes thrown in the mix as well.
Should you upgrade?
Absolutely. This update fixes a lot of problems in the baseline iOS 15 release while also adding in features that were initially missing. If you’ve already upgraded to iOS 15, iOS 15.1 is a no brainer. If you’re hesitant about installing iOS 15 for whatever reason, this update won’t change your mind.
Yep, the Google Pixel can finally be a hit
Yesterday, reviews dropped for Google’s new Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, and people were into them. The cameras seem to be as good as Google had promised, battery life was found to be exceptional on both models, and performance didn’t take a hit despite Google using its own Tensor processor in place of a traditional Qualcomm Snapdragon chip.
The Pixel 6 series, by comparison, is Google’s biggest roll-of-the-dice in the smartphone market to date. Up until, now, the company has played things conservatively with specs, marketing, and distribution. That’s all been changed with much beefier specs, Google’s biggest marketing budget ever for a Pixel, and availability at all major US carriers plus various third-party retailers.
No Pixel has ever had this much dedication from Google, and it’s obvious the company wants it to be a hit. And unlike virtually every past high-end Pixel phone, the Pixel 6 series feels like it could easily become a hit.
It has the display case appeal, for one. Sitting next to an iPhone or Galaxy, the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro’s new hardware will undoubtedly look just as premium and eye-catching. The specs are much more powerful, with 12GB of RAM in the Pixel 6 Pro along with up to 512GB of storage, a 5,003mAh battery, and the Tensor processor. There’s also a 50MP camera on both devices, as well as an ultra-wide. The Pro adds a telephoto (just like the iPhone), and there are tons of cool camera tricks on the software side.
No Pixel has ever been able to go face-to-face with a flagship phone from a top competitor like this before. Everyone’s defense has always been “Google doesn’t need crazy specs, it has good hardware.” Nowadays, that’s just not good enough. The $1,000+ ultra-high-end smartphones have ruined any manufacturers’ hope that good software is enough to sell phones. Back in the Nexus days, it was since that’s really all Google had going for them. But now that they’re taking smartphones seriously, playing in the same field as the big dogs is incredibly important if the Pixel ever wants to become somewhat of a hit.
Something definitely feels different about this year’s Pixel line. I’m not sure how many units Google will ultimately sell, but I think it’s safe to say it’ll be more than any other flagship Pixel phone in the past. It has the recipe to succeed, now we just have to wait and see if it does.
There’s a lot of chatter around the Facebook Papers, a set of documents that revealed a much more sinister Facebook than what many perceive on the surface. The Washington Post is behind a lot of the reporting, and Cristiano Lima has a good explainer up.
T-Mobile and Dish seem to be in a fight over 3G CDMA networks and how long it’ll take to migrate over a million users to 4G or 5G. The Uncarrier wanted its 3G network shut down in January, but due to Dish’s alleged “feet-dragging,” T-Mobile’s forced to push that date back to March 31st, 2022. Jody Serrano at Gizmodo wrote up a good piece summarizing exactly what’s going on.
Samsung’s new Galaxy Books seem boring, and that’s because they were. The company’s latest Galaxy Book Pro 360 5G, Galaxy Odyssey, and standard Galaxy Book have gotten spec bumps, and the unstoppable Monica Chin at The Verge did a nice job at covering the details.
Anker’s new MagSafe accessories for the iPhone 13 and 12 series seem pretty nifty, and they’re some of the first memorable and meaningful accessories we’ve seen compatible with MagSafe since it debuted last year. Eric Slivka at MacRumors went hands-on with a lot of them.