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Apple resumes beta testing upcoming iOS and macOS versions [Updated]

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Apple resumes beta testing upcoming iOS and macOS versions
Developers got their first look at macOS 12.4, iOS 15.5 and more on Tuesday. And the public could join in starting Wednesday.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

After a three-week hiatus, Apple seeded to developers beta versions of all its operating systems on Tuesday. That includes macOS Monterey 12.4, iOS 15.5 and more. On Wednesday, the public was also given the option to test these.

These pre-release versions for iPhone, Mac, iPad, Apple Watch, etc. first came out on the same day Apple announced the date for its WWDC Developers Conference. Beta testing for the five just-released OS versions is expected to end around the same time as the conference.

Hulu adds SharePlay support on iPhone and iPad

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Hulu adds SharePlay support
Enjoy Hulu content with your friends, wherever they may be.
Image: Hulu/Cult of Mac

Hulu today joined the list of third-party video streaming services that offer SharePlay support on iPhone and iPad.

Its latest app update gives viewers the ability to enjoy movies and TV shows with their friends over FaceTime while everyone stays in sync. It also adds the ability to easily switch between channels for Live TV users.

iOS update fails to deliver promised iPhone battery improvement

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iOS update does not deliver promised iPhone battery improvement
While some iPhone models saw an increase in battery life with iOS 15.4.1, most did not.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Benchmark testing of nine different iPhone models shows that less than half of them experienced any improvement to battery life from the recent iOS 15.4.1 update, despite Apple describing that as a major feature of the new version. More of the handsets saw a decrease instead.

On the devices affected, the drop in battery life is generally small, but it’s nevertheless likely to leave some iPhone users holding off on the update. Which is unfortunate, as iOS 15.4.1 also closes a security hole that Apple says has been actively exploited.

iOS 15.4.1 improves iPhone battery life, macOS 12.3.1 fixes Bluetooth bug

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iOS 15.4.1 release improves iPhone battery life, macOS 12.3.1 fixes Bluetooth bug
If you have an Apple device, it probably got an OS update on Thursday.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Apple introduced bug fix updates for every one of its operating systems on Thursday. These updates should improve the battery life on iPhone and iPad. And for Mac users, the new version fixes well-publicized bugs recently introduced by macOS 12.3.

However, there are no new features in macOS Monterey 12.3.1, iOS 15.4.1, iPadOS 15.4.1, watchOS 8.5.1 and tvOS 15.4.1 — Apple just fixed small problems. All five updates are available to download immediately.

Apple Maps gets a major upgrade in Canada

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Apple Maps gets a major upgrade in Canada
Enjoy a more detailed city experience, with 3D buildings and landmarks.
Images: Apple

Apple Maps users in Canada can now enjoy a more detailed mapping experience, as well as enhanced navigation, in several big cities.

Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver are the latest to get Apple’s most recent Maps upgrades — which first debuted in London, Los Angeles, New York City, and the San Francisco Bay Area in iOS 15 last September.

How to get the new gender-neutral Siri voice in iOS 15.4

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Apple’s AI-driven voice-controlled digital assistant Siri
Siri doesn’t have to sound female.
Image: Apple

One of the new features in iOS 15.4, released earlier this week, is a new, gender-neutral voice for Siri.

Apple developed the gender-neutral voice in response to criticism for using female voices as the default for the virtual assistant. If you want Siri to use a voice that is not explicitly female or male — maybe if you don’t identify that way yourself, or if you just want a nongendered voice assistant — now you have the option.

Here’s how to switch to the new voice on iPhone, iPad and Mac.

Studio Display is powered by the same version of iOS 15 as iPhone and iPad

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Apple Studio Display runs iOS 15
Yes, exactly the same version.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s new Studio Display is incredibly impressive in more ways than one. And while some early reviews note that other excellent monitors are available for less, there are some things that make Studio Display completely unique.

Not only is it powered by an A13 Bionic chip, for instance, but Studio Display runs iOS 15.4. No, not a watered-down version of it, but exactly the same iOS 15.4 build that you have installed on your iPhone and iPad. You just can’t use it.

iOS 15.4 lets you restore Apple Watch from iPhone for the first time

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You can now restore Apple Watch with iPhone
Only Apple could restore an Apple Watch until now.
Image: Apple

If you encounter firmware issues on Apple Watch, you can now wirelessly restore its software yourself using an iPhone — provided you’ve updated to iOS 15.4 and watchOS 8.5, which made their official debuts on Monday.

Is it the first time Cupertino has given Apple Watch owners this functionality. Until now, firmware issues often required users to take their device to Apple to be restored, since there is no way to connect the device to a Mac.