Apple is finishing 2022 by releasing major software updates for its devices. The upgrades are headlined by iOS 16.2, which should be particularly useful for the security-conscious. The new version adds an Advanced Data Protection option that brings end-to-end encryption to more of your iCloud data, including device backups, Messages content, notes and photos. And like it or not, Apple is limiting AirDrop sharing — you'll now have 10 minutes to swap files with "everyone" before the feature reverts to contacts-only. The restriction first arrived in China, allegedly in a bid to appease officials trying to stymie protests, but may be useful if you're worried someone might push unwanted content to your device.
This is also a particularly important update if you're an iPhone 14 Pro or Pro Max owner. You can now hide your wallpaper and notifications when the 14 Pro's always-on display kicks in. Yes, that makes it behave more like some Android phones, but it could also reduce distractions (some say it still looks like the phone is awake with the wallpaper on) and bolster privacy. Live Activities are now available for MLB, NBA and Premier League games on all iPhones courtesy of the TV app, although you'll need one of the 14 Pro models to see them on your home screen through the Dynamic Island.
Other improvements largely focus on new apps and expected revisions. The long-promised Freeform digital whiteboard app is finally here, offering a visual collaboration tool for brainstorming sessions and meetings. Apple Music's karaoke mode is now available and the Weather app now includes a news section. If you use your iPhone to control a smart household, you'll be glad to know that Apple has given the Home app with a new architecture that promises to be faster and more reliable. This may be helpful now that Matter devices are ready (Apple added Matter support in iOS 16.1).
The company has simultaneously released iPadOS 16.2 and macOS Ventura 13.1. Not surprisingly, these bring cross-platform feature additions like Advanced Data Protection, Freeform and the revised Home app. WatchOS 9.2, meanwhile, adds the Home update as a workout for cyclists and runners wanting to improve their performance on a previously-completed route. These updates won't offer as many conspicuous changes as on the iPhone, but they should still be worthwhile if you're immersed in Apple's ecosystem.