Here we go again! Apple has just released the X.1 updates to its 2023 operating systems, including a couple of features held back from the initial releases, along with improvements, bug fixes, and security updates. I’ve tried to explain Apple’s terse release notes where I could, but please share anything else you discover about the changes in these updates.
When should you install these updates? If you’re already running an earlier version of this year’s release cycle, I suggest installing them as soon as it’s convenient. They aren’t likely to be less stable than the versions they replace, so if you wait just a day or two to make sure the Internet hasn’t squawked in dismay, you should be good to update.
If you have been delaying an upgrade from a previous major version, this collection of releases may be sufficient to give you the confidence to upgrade. These updates fix relatively few bugs, which suggests that Apple hasn’t identified many significant problems, and for the most part, the upgrades have been well-received among early adopters and my consultant friends. If you’d prefer to keep waiting, I wouldn’t be surprised to see X.2 updates in mid-December, which would give you the holiday break to upgrade at your convenience.
iOS 17.1 and iPadOS 17.1
The most significant feature addition to iOS 17.1 and iPadOS 17.1 is a promised enhancement to AirDrop that enables transfers to continue over the Internet when you move out of AirDrop range. I’ve never encountered that problem, but I can imagine it being annoying. For the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro models with an Always-On display, StandBy receives new options to control when the display turns off. Other enhancements include support for the USB-C Apple Pencil for compatible iPads (including my 10.5-inch iPad Pro), the option to choose a specific album for the Lock Screen’s Photo Shuffle wallpaper, Home Key support for Matter locks, and crash detection optimizations for iPhone 14 and iPhone 15 models. Let’s not test those final optimizations, folks.
In the Music app, Favorites have been expanded to include songs, albums, and playlists, and you can filter to display favorites in the library. (This feature will require some exploration, but look for the star icon when a song is playing or in the Now Playing widget.) Apple also says that Music has a new cover art collection that offers designs that change colors to reflect the music in your playlist—I’m not grokking this one yet. And in a nod to how easy Spotify makes playlist creation, song suggestions now appear at the bottom of every playlist to simplify adding similar tracks.
iOS 17.1 and iPadOS 17.1 also fix a handful of bugs that could:
- Prevent Screen Time settings from syncing across devices reliably
- Reset the Significant Location privacy setting when transferring or pairing an Apple Watch for the first time
- Prevent the names of incoming callers from appearing when you are on another call
- Keep custom and purchased ringtones from appearing as options for text tones
- Cause the keyboard to be less responsive than it should be
- Cause display image persistence
Both operating systems also benefit from fixes for 18 security vulnerabilities. Happily, none of them are zero-day vulnerabilities that are actively being exploited.
macOS 14.1 Sonoma
I’m a little surprised that macOS 14.1 Sonoma has so few changes. It receives the same expansion to favorites in Music, and a new System Settings > General > Coverage item provides warranty status for the Mac it’s on, along with AirPods and Beats headphones and earbuds. That’s it on the feature side.
According to Apple’s release notes, macOS 14.1 fixes just two functional bugs. One could reset the System Services settings within Location Services, and the other could prevent encrypted external drives from mounting.
Howard Oakley noted one other change. macOS 14.1 no longer supports older cameras and video output devices that don’t use modern system extensions. However, Apple provides a command-line fix—which must be invoked while booted into macOS Recovery—to restore legacy device support. I suspect there are additional changes, but Apple considers them too minor to call out. If you notice any, let us know in the comments.
On the security front, macOS 14.1 addresses 33 security vulnerabilities, none of which are being actively exploited.
The most significant update of the batch may be watchOS 10.1. It features the promised double-tap gesture to perform the primary action in notifications and most apps, enabling you to answer or hang up a call, play and pause music, stop a timer, and more. But remember, it’s available only on the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2. I’ll soon be giving it a workout—at my timer-intensive weight workouts.
Note that the double-tap gesture is turned on by default, so if you find yourself activating it inadvertently, you’ll have to deactivate it manually in the Watch app in My Watch > Gestures > Double Tap, which is also where you can set whether the double-tap activates play/pause or skip in playback, and whether it causes the Smart Stack to advance or select the current widget.
watchOS 10.1 also now supports NameDrop for exchanging contact information merely by bringing your Apple Watch near someone else’s iPhone (running iOS 17) or Apple Watch (running watchOS 10.1)—the left two screenshots below demonstrate this action. The feature requires a second-generation Apple Watch SE, Apple Watch Series 7 or later, or Apple Watch Ultra. Also, a new My Card complication (look in Contacts when adding a complication) provides quick access to Name Drop—the right two screenshots below show the complication and Name Drop screen.
Perhaps the complication is faster than waiting for Name Drop to kick in automatically? I suspect Name Drop will be frustrating for early adopters until more of the people with whom we want to exchange contact information have upgraded. Note that Name Drop wanted to share the fax number in my contact card because it happened to be listed first. I had to edit my contact card to put my phone numbers in the proper order, something that’s most easily done in Contacts on the Mac.
Bugs fixed in watchOS 10.1 could:
- Cause the climate section in the Home app to be blank
- Unexpectedly display a white selection border after turning off AssistiveTouch
- Prevent cities in Weather from syncing between the iPhone and Apple Watch
- Display the scroll bar when it shouldn’t
- Cause elevation to be incorrect for some users, including Paul Schinder
watchOS 10.1 includes fixes for nine security vulnerabilities, all seemingly shared with other operating systems.
tvOS 17.1 and HomePod Software 17.1
There’s only one change apart from “performance and stability improvements” that Apple deems worth calling out for its living room devices. Both tvOS 17.1 and HomePod Software 17.1 note that they add support for the Enhance Dialogue feature on the HomePod mini and the first-generation HomePod. As the name suggests, Enhance Dialogue makes it easier to hear spoken voices over effects, action, and music when a HomePod is paired with an Apple TV 4K. I’m sure my ears aren’t improving with age, but I’ve found audio in movies and TV shows increasingly muddy. We now keep subtitles on for everything we watch, so this feature might encourage us to upgrade to a new Apple TV and pick up another HomePod.
Unsurprisingly, tvOS 17.1 fixes four security vulnerabilities in the core operating system code shared with Apple’s other operating systems.