Small updates —

A few new features have arrived as we wait for iOS 14.


Multiple smartphones on a table.

Enlarge / The iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max running iOS 13.

Today, Apple released software updates for all of its platforms, including the iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and HomePod. The updates should be rolling out to users around the world throughout the day.

In general, the updates are fairly small in scope. As usual, iOS 13.6 and iPadOS 13.6 are the beefiest, but they’re still small. The flagship feature is the addition of support for digital car keys on the iPhone. Additionally, Apple has added voice-narrated stories to Apple News+, as well as expanded local news and customization options in the News app. There’s also a new “symptoms” category in the Health app, plus a variety of bug fixes.

Here are Apple’s release notes for iOS 13.6. iPadOS 13.6 is similar but lacks digital car keys and the News audio features. Additionally, Apple has included security updates for iOS 13.6.

iOS 13.6 adds support for digital car keys, introduces audio stories in Apple News+, and contains a new symptoms category in the Health app. This release also includes bug fixes and improvements.

Digital car keys

  • Unlock, lock, and start your compatible car with your iPhone
  • Securely remove digital keys from a lost device via iCloud
  • Share digital keys easily with iMessage
  • Driver-specific profiles so you can configure shared keys for full-access or restricted driving
  • Power reserve lets you unlock and start your car for up to five hours after iPhone runs out of battery

Apple News

  • Audio stories are professionally narrated versions of some of the best reads from Apple News+, selected and produced by the Apple News editors as part of your Apple News+ subscription
  • Apple News Today is a new, free audio briefing on the day’s top stories from the Apple News editors, also available in the Podcasts app
  • A new Audio tab makes it easy to find Apple News Today and Apple News+ audio stories
  • CarPlay allows you to listen to Apple News Today and Apple News+ audio stories while on the road
  • Local news in your Today feed provides extensive coverage of San Francisco, the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Houston, and New York City
  • More stories available from local news providers with a subscription to Apple News+
  • Your daily newsletter from Apple News can now be personalized with stories that reflect your interests

Health

  • New category for symptoms in the Health app, including symptoms logged from Cycle Tracking and ECG
  • Ability to log new symptoms, like fever, chills, sore throat or coughing, and share them with third-party apps

This update also includes bug fixes and other improvements.

  • Adds a new setting to choose if updates automatically download to your device when on Wi-Fi
  • Addresses an issue that could cause apps to become unresponsive when syncing data from iCloud Drive
  • Fixes an issue that could cause data roaming to appear to be disabled on eSIM even though it remained active
  • Fixes an issue thats causes some phone calls from Saskatchewan to appear as originating from the United States
  • Addresses an issue that could interrupt audio when making phone calls over Wi-Fi Calling
  • Fixes an issues that prevented some iPhone 6S and iPhone SE devices from registering for Wi-Fi Calling
  • Resolves an issue that could cause the software keyboard to appear unexpectedly when connected to certain third-party hardware keyboards
  • Fixes an issue that could cause Japanese hardware keyboards to be incorrectly mapped as a U.S. keyboard
  • Addresses stability issues when accessing Control Center when Assistive Touch was enabled
  • Provides a mechanism for administrators to specify domains to exclude from traffic carried by always-on VPN connections

macOS Catalina 10.15.6 and watchOS 6.2.8 are more modest still. The Mac software update expands local news offerings and customization options in Apple News, “adds a new option to optimize video streaming on HDR-compatible Mac notebooks for improved battery life,” and includes big fixes and security updates. Here are the update notes:

macOS Catalina‌ 10.15.6 introduces local news in your Today feed in ‌Apple News‌ and improves the security and reliability of your Mac.

‌Apple News‌

  • Local news in your Today feed provides extensive coverage of San Francisco, the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Houston, and New York City
  • More stories available from local news providers with a subscription to ‌Apple News‌+
  • Your daily newsletter from ‌Apple News‌ can now be personalized with stories that reflect your interests

This update also includes bug fixes and other improvements.

  • Adds a new option to optimize video streaming on HDR-compatible Mac notebooks for improved battery life
  • Fixes an issue where the computer name may change after installing a software update
  • Resolves an issue where certain USB mouse and trackpads may lose connection

watchOS 6.2.8 adds digital car-key support on the Apple Watch series 5, and expands ECG capability and irregular hearth rhythm notifications to Bahrain, Brazil, and South Africa. Here are the notes:

watchOS 6.2.8 includes new features and improvements:

  • Adds support for digital car keys for ‌Apple Watch‌ Series 5
  • ECG app on ‌Apple Watch‌ Series 4 or later now available in Bahrain, Brazil, and South Africa
  • Irregular heart rhythm notifications now available in Bahrain, Brazil, and South Africa

Apple also released tvOS 13.4.8 and HomePod update 13.4.8. Both offer stability improvements and bug fixes but no new features, according to Apple.

Earlier this month, Apple announced its plants for its larger annual updates, including iOS 14, iPadOS 14, tvOS 14, watchOS 7, and macOS 11 Big Sur. We are likely to continue to see only small updates like today’s until those new versions roll out in September or October.

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