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#1664: Real system requirements for OS 2023, beware Siri creating alarms instead of timers

Happy Juneteenth! We have two articles for you this week. One focuses on a recent change in Siri that causes timer commands to create alarms instead. Read on for workarounds. The other explores the system requirements for Apple’s 2023 operating systems, calling out some discrepancies in Apple’s lists and providing feature-by-feature details that differ from the overall compatibility matrix. Notable Mac app releases this week include Pages 13.1, Numbers 13.1, and Keynote 13.1, Microsoft Office for Mac 16.74, TextExpander 7.5.2, Fantastical 3.7.15, Firefox 114.0.1, FastScripts 3.2.6, MarsEdit 5.0.5, and Photos Workbench 1.1.

Adam Engst 17 comments

Beware of Siri Creating Alarms Instead of Timers

I regularly use timers on the Apple Watch to remind myself about cooking times, ensure I don’t miss a meeting (see “A Call to Alarms: Why We Need Persistent Calendar and Reminder Notifications,” 11 May 2023), track how long to hold or repeat various exercises, remember to move the laundry along, avoid overdoing it by splitting wood for too long, and much else. My command is always the same: “Set a timer for 20 minutes” or whatever length of time I desire.

A timer failing to go off can be a real problem. Food might burn, I might be late, or the people performing a thoroughly evil core exercise with me might revolt. That’s happened more frequently in the past few months, but I didn’t know why until recently.

The first clue came when alarms started to go off on my Apple Watch every so often. That’s unusual; I seldom set alarms, and when I do, it’s always on my iPhone, not the Apple Watch. I didn’t think too much about the spurious alarms, chalking them up to cosmic rays.

The explanation came from a blog post by my friend Paul Kafasis. Paul had noticed the same problem, but he realized what was happening because he was paying closer attention to Siri’s visual feedback on the Apple Watch.

Something has recently changed with Siri such that it occasionally misses the final word—usually “minutes”—in the standard command, turning “Set a timer for 20 minutes” into “Set a timer for 20.” I have become so accustomed to timers just working that I hadn’t been looking at the screen like Paul had, so I didn’t notice that Siri interprets that second command as a request to set an alarm for “20” (8 PM.) As you can see from the scrollbar in the third screenshot below, I’ve ended up with a slew of random alarms in the Apple Watch’s Alarms app.

Apple Watch timer and alarms

They’re a little annoying to delete, too. You have to tap each one, scroll down, and tap Delete. I was hoping there would be a long swipe to the left, but I discovered an even better way, which was to tell Siri, “Delete all my alarms.” Way to go nuclear, Siri.

Deleting Apple Watch alarms

Initially, the fix eluded me because the command is correct—Siri is just missing that final word for some reason. However, I discovered other ways to ensure that Siri sets a timer rather than starting an alarm:

  • If you can retrain your brain to change your timer invocation command, rephrase it to move the unit to the middle, where it can’t be missed. In other words, say, “Start a 20-minute timer” or even just “20-minute timer.” Thanks to early commenters for this suggestion.
  • Look at the watch face after you speak your command to confirm Siri’s action. The screens for timers and alarms are visually distinct, so it’s an easy difference to spot.
  • Turn on Siri’s spoken responses, captions, and the transcription of your speech in Watch > Siri > Siri Responses. I’ve never felt these were necessary before (and the responses grate quickly), but they should reduce the chance of missing Siri’s mistakes.
    Siri response settings

Apart from the announcement that you’ll have the option of dropping “Hey” from “Hey Siri” commands, Apple said very little about Siri at WWDC, so it seems unlikely that significant under-the-hood improvements are coming this year. Nonetheless, we hope Apple addresses at least this problem soon because it’s exacerbating an already somewhat fraught interaction method.

Adam Engst 23 comments

The Real System Requirements for Apple’s 2023 Operating Systems

Apple has released developer betas of macOS 14 Sonoma, iOS 17, iPadOS 17, watchOS 10, and tvOS 17, with public betas coming soon and releases likely in September or October of this year. As those releases draw near, many people are wondering whether their current hardware will run the new operating systems, or if it’s time to upgrade. Overall, the news is good: Apple has deprecated only five Macs (in three product lines) from 2017, three iPhones from 2017, and three iPads from 2015, 2016, and 2017.

However, just because a 10.5-inch iPad Pro can run iPadOS 17 doesn’t mean it will have access to all the new features. I’ll first look at the basic requirements for each operating system and then dive into which features have more specific hardware requirements.

macOS 14 Sonoma Requirements

Here are the Macs that can run macOS 14 Sonoma compared to those that support macOS 13 Ventura. As noted, Apple has trimmed five older models: two iMacs, two MacBook Pros, and the final MacBook.

Mac Supported in Sonoma Supported in Ventura
iMac 2019 and later 2017 and later
iMac Pro 2017 2017
MacBook Air 2018 and later 2018 and later
MacBook Pro 2018 and later 2017 and later
Mac Pro 2019 and later 2019 and later
Mac Studio 2022 and later 2022 and later
Mac mini 2018 and later 2018 and later
MacBook None 2017

To sum up, then, the following Macs—all released in 2017—were compatible with Ventura but cannot run Sonoma:

  • iMac (21.5-inch and 27-inch)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch and 15-inch)
  • MacBook (12-inch)

iOS 17 Requirements

The situation is similar for iOS 17. It supports every iPhone model released since 2018, though not 2019’s seventh-generation A10 Fusion-based iPod touch, which Apple dropped a year ago (see “Apple Officially Discontinues the iPod touch,” 11 May 2022). The table includes the chip powering each iPhone for reference.

iPhone Introduced Chip
iPhone 14/Plus/Pro/Pro Max 2022 A15 Bionic / A16 Bionic
iPhone 13/mini/Pro/Pro Max 2021 A15 Bionic
iPhone 12/mini/Pro/Pro Max 2020 A14 Bionic
iPhone 11/Pro/Pro Max 2019 A13 Bionic
iPhone SE (2nd generation or later) 2020 A13 Bionic
iPhone XR/XS/XS Max 2018 A12 Bionic

The devices that supported iOS 16 but can’t upgrade to iOS 17 include just these A11 Bionic-powered models from 2017:

  • iPhone X
  • iPhone 8/8 Plus

iPadOS 17 Requirements

For iPad models that can run iPadOS 17, there are several discrepancies between what Apple says on the main iPadOS 17 page and the actual situation. That page claims, “iPad Pro (2nd generation and later),” but both footnotes later on that page and available developer betas confirm that the iPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation) and the iPad Pro 10.5-inch are supported.

Proof of older iPad Pro models being supported in iPadOS 17

The iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st generation) still doesn’t make the cut. Both it and the iPad Pro 9.7-inch rely on the A9X chip, so it’s no wonder they’re not supported. The A10X Fusion becomes the oldest supported chip, which is notable because Apple decreed for iOS 17 that even the newer A11 Bionic was insufficient, but iPadOS 17 supports some models powered by the earlier A10 Fusion and A10X Fusion chips.

Perhaps there are other specs more important than the chip generation for iPadOS 17, or maybe some iOS 17-only features require higher-performance chips.

Device Introduced Chip
iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2nd–6th generation) 2017, 2018, 2020, 2021, 2022 A10X Fusion, A12X Bionic, A12Z Bionic, M1, M2
iPad Pro 11-inch (1st–3rd generation) 2018, 2020, 2021 A12X Bionic, A12Z Bionic, M1
iPad Pro 10.5-inch 2017 A10X Fusion
iPad Air (3rd–5th generation) 2019, 2020, 2022 A12 Bionic, A14 Bionic, M1
iPad (6th–10th generation) 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 A10 Fusion, A10 Fusion, A12 Bionic, A13 Bionic, A14 Bionic
iPad mini (5th & 6th generation) 2019, 2021 A12 Bionic, A15 Bionic

The iPad models that could run iOS 16 but don’t support iOS 17 are:

  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st generation)
  • iPad Pro 9.7-inch
  • iPad (5th generation)

watchOS 10 Requirements

Apple didn’t change the basic system requirements from watchOS 9 to watchOS 10, which means that these Apple Watch models can all upgrade:

  • Apple Watch Ultra
  • Apple Watch Series 8
  • Apple Watch Series 7
  • Apple Watch Series 6
  • Apple Watch SE
  • Apple Watch Series 5
  • Apple Watch Series 4

Two features that debuted in watchOS 9 presumably still require specific Apple Watch models:

  • Apple Watch Mirroring, an accessibility feature that lets you control an Apple Watch from an iPhone, requires an Apple Watch Series 6 or later.
  • The onscreen keyboard supports more languages—French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish—when running on an Apple Watch Series 7 or later.

Compatibility By Feature

Overall, Apple does a good job of supporting older devices—2023’s operating systems work on every device sold since 2018—a 5-year run. However, some of the otherwise supported devices lack the processing power or other capabilities necessary for new features, so Apple restricts such features to those that can handle them. It makes for a bit of additional confusion, but it’s better than dropping support entirely. Here are the promised features that have more specific hardware requirements.

Adaptive Audio: AirPods Pro, iPhone, iPad

The Adaptive Audio feature that switches between Noise Cancellation and Transparency based on the ambient sounds in your environment works with all iPhones that can run iOS 17 and all iPads compatible with iPadOS 17, but on the AirPod side, it is limited to the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) with the latest firmware.

Control Video Framing: Mac

When you use a Studio Display or an iPhone as your camera for video on the Mac, you can adjust the frame with zoom and pan controls, or use Recenter to place yourself in the center of the frame. It works on any Mac but requires the processing capabilities of the Studio Display or iPhone.

Enhanced Autocorrect: iPhone, iPad

Apple says it enhanced autocorrect to ducking work better, and it temporarily underlines autocorrected words so you can easily see which were changed and revert as needed.  It’s available only in Arabic, Dutch, English, French, German, Hebrew, Korean, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, and Thai, and it works on all Macs running Sonoma. However, the iPhone and iPad support enhanced autocorrect only in English, French, and Spanish, and require:

  • iPhone 12 or later
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation and later), iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd generation and later), iPad (10th generation), iPad Air (4th generation and later), or iPad mini (6th generation)

External Display Camera Support: iPad

Using an external display’s built-in camera when attached to an iPad requires an iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation and later), iPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation and later), iPad (10th generation), iPad Air (4th generation and later), or iPad mini (6th generation).

FaceTime on the Big Screen: Apple TV, iPhone, iPad

To use an iPhone or iPad’s camera and microphone for a FaceTime call on an Apple TV, you need:

  • Apple TV 4K (2nd generation)
  • iPhone XR/XS (all supported iPhones)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation and later), iPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation and later), iPad (8th generation and later), iPad Air (3rd generation and later), or iPad mini (5th generation and later)

Game Mode: Mac

For those playing games on their Macs, Game Mode automatically gives games top priority on the CPU and GPU, lowering usage for background tasks. It also reduces latency for wireless accessories, like game controllers and AirPods, for improved responsiveness. It’s available only on Macs with Apple silicon.

Inline Predictions: iPhone, iPad, Mac

I’m most accustomed to seeing inline predictions as you type in Gmail, where they’re occasionally helpful on the iPhone because typing is so slow there. Apple’s version is available in English on:

  • iPhone 12 or later
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation and later), iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd generation and later), iPad (10th generation), iPad Air (4th generation and later), or iPad mini (6th generation)
  • All Macs

Made for iPhone Hearing Devices: Mac

Those who use Made for iPhone hearing devices can now pair them directly with Macs, but the feature seems to require significant processing power because it works only on the MacBook Pro (14-inch, 2021), MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2021), Mac Studio (2022), and all Macs with the M2 chip.

NameDrop: iPhone, Apple Watch

Apple’s feature for transferring contact information wirelessly with just proximity works on any iPhone running iOS 17, but to communicate with an Apple Watch running watchOS 10, you need an Apple Watch SE, Apple Watch Series 6 or later, or Apple Watch Ultra. NameDrop is coming in an update later this year, so it won’t be available at launch.

PDF AutoFill: iPad, Mac

You’ll be able to autofill contact information in a PDF form with PDF AutoFill on any Mac running Sonoma, but on the iPad, the feature requires an iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation and later), iPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation and later), iPad Air (3rd generation and later), iPad mini (5th generation and later), or iPad (8th generation and later).

Point and Speak: iPhone

A new Point and Speak accessibility feature makes it easier for people with vision disabilities to interact with physical objects that have text labels, but it works only on the Pro models of the iPhone 12, iPhone 13, and iPhone 14.

Presenter Overlay: Mac

The new Presenter Overlay feature lets you stay on screen while sharing your screen on a video call, either in front of the shared screen or in a small movable bubble. Unsurprisingly, the amount of computation necessary for this trick requires a Mac with Apple silicon.

Press to Mute: AirPods, iPhone, iPad, Mac

I can’t figure out why Apple lists iPad and Mac models in its system requirements footnote for this feature, which lets you press the stem of your AirPods to mute or unmute (on the AirPods Max, press the Digital Crown). As far as I can tell, the listed models equate to “everything.” Even more confusing is that the iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 pages list different supported AirPods than the macOS Sonoma page.

  • iPhone: Apple says, “Available in compatible applications with AirPods (3rd generation), AirPods Pro (1st and 2nd generation), or AirPods Max with the latest firmware.”
  • iPad: Apple says, “Available on iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2nd generation and later), iPad Pro 10.5-inch, iPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation and later), iPad Air (3rd generation and later), iPad (6th generation and later), iPad mini (5th generation and later) and AirPods (3rd generation), AirPods Pro (1st and 2nd generation), or AirPods Max with the latest firmware.”
  • Mac: Apple says, “Available on MacBook Air (2018 and later), MacBook Pro (2018 and later), iMac (2019 and later), iMac Pro (2017), Mac mini (2018 and later), Mac Studio (2022), Mac Pro (2019 and later) with the latest software, and AirPods Pro (2nd generation) with the latest firmware.”

React with Your Hands: iPhone, iPad, Mac

With the new operating systems, you can spice up your video calls with 3D augmented reality reaction effects like hearts, confetti, and fireworks, triggering them with a hand gesture. For the iPhone and iPad, Apple says it’s available “when using the front camera.” I could see that due to needing the front-facing sensor and camera array, but on the Mac, it works with the built-in camera or Continuity Camera, presumably supporting the rear camera. The feature requires:

  • iPhone 12 or later
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation and later), iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd generation and later), iPad (10th generation), iPad Air (4th generation and later), or iPad mini (6th generation)
  • Any Mac with Apple silicon, any or any Mac when using Continuity Camera with an iPhone 12 or later

Screen Distance: iPad

To help reduce the incidence of myopia, the Screen Distance feature that warns users to move the iPad further away requires the TrueDepth camera on an iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation and later) or iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd generation and later). How many children do their reading on a recent iPad Pro?

Screen Sharing Enhanced Performance: Mac

Apple says it has significantly improved Screen Sharing performance, but that improvement relies on the advanced media engine in Macs with Apple silicon. You’ll also need a high-bandwidth connection.

“Siri” Instead of “Hey Siri”: iPhone, iPad, Mac

Apple’s simplification of the Siri invocation phrase works on all iPhones with iOS 17 and iPads with iPadOS 17. However, on the Mac, it requires a Mac with Apple silicon or using the AirPods (2nd generation). Regardless, it’s available only in English.

Siri: Back-to-back Requests: iPhone, iPad

On an iPhone or iPad, you can issue multiple requests to Siri without having to reactivate it. The feature is available only in English and works on all iPhones running iOS 17, but on the iPad, it requires an iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation and later), iPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation and later), iPad Air (3rd generation and later), iPad mini (5th generation and later), or iPad (8th generation and later).

Time in Daylight: Apple Watch

The new option to have an Apple Watch track how much time is spent outside requires an Apple Watch SE (2nd generation), Apple Watch Series 6 or later, or Apple Watch Ultra.


Pages 13.1, Numbers 13.1, and Keynote 13.1 Agen Schmitz No comments

Pages 13.1, Numbers 13.1, and Keynote 13.1

Apple has updated its iWork apps to version 13.1, adding support for Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) files to Pages, Numbers, and Keynote documents. You can also break apart imported SVG images and save them to your shapes library for future use. The three apps also now support stacked chart summaries, enabling you to show subtotal summary labels in stacked bar, column, and area charts.

Pages 13.1 also retains SVG images when exporting books into EPUB format; provides updated templates for creating business reports, school papers, and greeting cards; and enables you to export document pages as image files. Keynote 13.1 improves screen sharing, enabling you to switch to your slideshow window when sharing on a FaceTime call. (Free; Pages, 290.5 MB, release notes; Numbers, 254.3 MB, release notes; Keynote, 351.5 MB, release notes; macOS 12.3+)

Microsoft Office for Mac 16.74 Agen Schmitz 5 comments

Microsoft Office for Mac 16.74

Microsoft has released version 16.74 of Office for Mac, with improved support for accessible PDF export from Excel. PowerPoint enables you to record a customized camera feed with the cameo feature in Recording Studio. Finally, Outlook now enables you to send emails from email aliases, makes local folders available in the new Outlook, introduces the My Day menu bar item to give you a peek into your day’s calendar, fixes a scenario where messages in the reading pane would sometimes disappear after few seconds, resolves an issue where the undo button was not clickable, and fixes a bug where calendars could become unchecked after restarting Outlook. ($149.99 for a one-time purchase, $99.99/$69.99 annual subscription options, free update through Microsoft AutoUpdate, release notes, macOS 10.15+)

TextExpander 7.5.2 Agen Schmitz No comments

TextExpander 7.5.2

TextExpander has released TextExpander 7.5.2, a maintenance update for the text-expansion utility with a smattering of improvements and bug fixes. The new version adds an option to hide the main window on launch at login, enables chat for all users via a link to the contact page, fixes the display of optional sections in Fill-Ins, resolves a crash at startup after editing shared Snippet Groups, and addresses an issue with expansion via Inline Search inside Fill In windows. ($40 annual subscription with a 20% first-year discount for TidBITS members, 30 MB, release notes, macOS 10.15+)

Fantastical 3.7.15 Agen Schmitz No comments

Fantastical 3.7.15

Flexibits has issued Fantastical 3.7.15, adding Day, Week, Quarter, and Task views to the mini window. The calendar app now enables you to open a task in Todoist’s native app from the task context menu, displays an invitee’s proposed new time below that invitee on Exchange calendars, fixes proposal titles that display incorrectly in some scenarios, resolves an issue that would cause proposal times to show too many conflicts, addresses an issue with Exchange events that could appear off by an hour, fixes a bug where modifying an event with multiple time zones could cause a sync error, renames Office 365 to Microsoft 365, and improves the first run and onboarding experience. ($56.99 annual subscription from Flexibits and the Mac App Store, free update, 69.4 MB, release notes, macOS 11+)

Firefox 114.0.1 Agen Schmitz No comments

Firefox 114.0.1

Mozilla released Firefox 114 earlier in June, enabling macOS users to capture video from their cameras in all supported native resolutions (i.e., higher than 1280 x 720 pixels). The Web browser adds support for searching bookmarks from the Bookmarks menu (accessible by adding the Bookmarks menu button to the toolbar); enables you to restrict searches to your local browsing history by selecting Search history from the History, Library, or Application menus; lets you reorder the extensions listed in the extensions panel; and makes Pocket Recommended content visible in France, Italy, and Spain. Shortly after this release, Mozilla issued version 114.0.1 to fix a startup crash. (Free, 127 MB, release notes, macOS 10.12+)

FastScripts 3.2.6 Agen Schmitz No comments

FastScripts 3.2.6

Red Sweater Software has issued FastScripts 3.2.6 with compatibility fixes for the upcoming macOS 14 Sonoma. The macOS scripting utility resolves an issue that prevented Command/Shift/Option modifiers from working when selecting menu items, prevents a crash that could occur when pressing the Delete key in the Scriptlight search field, and addresses a problem that caused a Scriptlight search result to run twice. The release also fixes a bug that caused system-wide keyboard shortcuts to appear on script menu items with the same name. (Free or $39.95 for premium features, $19.95 upgrade, 5.3 MB, release notes, macOS 10.15+)

MarsEdit 5.0.5 Agen Schmitz No comments

MarsEdit 5.0.5

Red Sweater Software has released MarsEdit 5.0.5, restoring the capability to get and set the post kind via AppleScript. The blogging app changes the default link color and HTML string color to a different shade of blue, fixes tab key order when tabbing out of the Find panel, increases the rich editor text font size slightly, fixes a bug that could cause a file inserted into a new post to disappear after editing other fields, and resolves an issue that prevented the preview content from loading when first opening the Preview Template editor. ($59.95 new from Red Sweater Software or the Mac App Store, 21 MB, release notes, macOS 10.15.4+)

Photos Workbench 1.1 Agen Schmitz 1 comment

Photos Workbench 1.1

Houdah Software has published version 1.1 of its Photos Workbench organization and management companion utility for Apple’s Photos (see “Photos Workbench Helps You Organize, Rate, and Compare Photos,” 13 February 2023). The release now opens the most recently used Photos library, shows photos in the same order as All Photos in the Photos app, remembers the selected album and photos when quitting and relaunching, and preserves the selection and scroll position when switching between albums. ($29 new, free update, 5.8 MB, release notes, macOS 12+)