Product reviews, deals and the latest tech news

Encrypted iCloud backups and other features are now included in new iOS and macOS updates

After many weeks of beta testing, Apple has released macOS 13.1, iOS 16.2, and iPadOS 16.2 to the general public. The collaborative Freeform app, first revealed at WWDC, is one of the new features in these upgrades. End-to-end encryption for iCloud data is also being made more widespread, and the Apple Music Sing feature, optimised for karaoke, is now available for iPhone users.

Your Apple ID and iCloud are used by Freeform so that several users may simultaneously make modifications to a collaborative canvas that resembles a bulletin board. You can create something that looks like a shared note or document but accepts more types of input, including as typed text, photos, files and documents, shapes, and handwritten text or images done with an Apple Pencil. Users may set up many shared boards with distinct groups of individuals, allowing for instantaneous communication via Messages or FaceTime.

Additions to iCloud’s encryption are categorised under the “Advanced Data Protection” header and increase the service’s use of end-to-end encryption. Photos, Notes, Voice Memos, Reminders, Shortcuts, and Wallet data may all be encrypted, as can bookmarks in Safari. “because of the requirement to interoperate with the worldwide email, contacts, and calendar systems,” we have decided not to encrypt calendar and mail data.

Support for physical two-factor authentication keys is a part of Advanced Data Protection, as is key verification for iMessage contacts, allowing users to be sure they are communicating with the correct person in private.

All of the Advanced Data Protection features, like Lockdown Mode in iOS 16 and macOS Ventura, are disabled by default and need a manual toggle following an update. Since Apple doesn’t have your encryption key, they can’t help you get your data back unless you create a recovery key and select an emergency contact when you enable it.

Macs running macOS Monterey (12.6.2) and big macs running macOS Big Sur (11.7.2) have received security patches from Apple, and Safari 16.2 has also received an update. iOS 15.7.2, which incorporates many of the security-only improvements introduced in iOS 16.2, is available for older devices that cannot update to iOS 16.

In addition to the HomePod update, Apple has released software updates for the majority of its other products, including the Apple Watch (watchOS 9.2), which adds some new workouts and “optimises” the Crash Detection feature on hardware that supports it, the Apple TV (tvOS 16.2), which adds Apple Music Sing support for the latest Apple TV 4K and video previews for Apple TV+ shows, and the Home Audio System (HomePod) (HomePod Software Update 16.2).