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Lots of Apple Updates

Apple has been busy. Call it Update Tuesday, with the release of OS X El Capitan 10.11.2, and iOS 9.2, plus updates for the new Apple TV and Apple Watch. The update list for the OS X release is fairly short, and I’ve seen two versions, one with the update, one at Apple’s support site. The full patch notes are as follows:

This update:

Enterprise content:

The 9.2 update is far more extensive, with bug fixes and improvements that cover Music, News, Mail, Podcasts, Safari, iBooks and others.

The fixes are so extensive, it’ll take a while to digest them all. So for example, the News app’s enhancements include listings of top stories, curated by Apple’s in-house editors, and published a “couple of times a day” according to a published report. This will give publishers a better shake at getting some attention.

AT&T mobile subscribers will be able to use iPads, Macs, and Apple Watches to make Wi-Fi calls using something called NumberSync, even when an iPad isn’t nearby. Up till now, the Continuity feature allowed for a similar capability, so long as your iPhone was around. The new system is configured via the carrier, thus eliminating that restriction. Similar features are available to customers of T-Mobile and Sprint. I assume Verizon Wireless will get in the act before long.

The troubled Music app contains improvements to Apple Music to address user concerns. You can now create a new playlist rather than be stuck with an existing one. They are displayed in the order of the most recent changes. Classical music fans will appreciate the fact that the catalog has an enhanced display that includes works, composers, and performances.

Mail for iOS now supports the Mail Drop feature, which first debuted with OS X Yosemite last year. It lets you send attachments of up to 5GB in size, using iCloud as the intermediary. So you’re no longer saddled with the paltry limit set by most email services, which routinely range from 10MB to 20MB. This may end up reducing the need for such ancillary services as Dropbox when you need to send large files to various users.

There are other changes that you can check out in Apple’s support document on the subject.

Now I installed these updates on two Macs, two iPhones, an iPad and an iPad Pro — the latter the review unit I received from Apple this past weekend. All in all, things mostly seem to work as advertised, although I have not had a chance to consider every single feature, or at least the ones I care about.

What did concern me, however, was the fact that my particular bugaboo with Mail for El Capitan, resulting in an occasional freeze of the app, has not been fixed. It makes the app unresponsive, but it clears up after 30 seconds or so. This is a problem that dates back to the El Capitan betas, and may only occur if you have large mailboxes. I’m just guessing since I haven’t read about any confirmation from my readers.

As I noted in my first look article on the iPad Pro, I don’t see any changes in iOS 9.2 that improve your experience with Apple’s largest tablet. Desktop icons are still spread far apart, and little is done with the basic user interface to really exploit the larger display, except that you see more stuff in Settings and various apps. According to Apple, that peculiar bug in which the iPad Pro becomes non-responsive after a full charge, has been fixed with this release.

Indeed, it works just fine aside from limitations that may only be temporary. I’m happy to see that benchmarks demonstrate that it performs similar to many Mac note-books, which means there’s a load of potential there that one hopes developers — and Apple — will devise a way to harness. Yes, there is Apple Pencil, and I can see the possibilities, at least for those who are thus inclined.

So other than my particular email issue, are all or most of the serious El Capitan bugs now resolved? The 2.5-star rating is up to 3 stars now, so that’s progress. If there are serious problems left, I’m sure there will be plenty of complaints.

iOS 9.2? We’ll it’s popular enough, with adoption rates running as high as around 80% according to Mixpanel Trends. That augers well, as does the promise of an updated Apple Remote app that will be compatible with the new Apple TV; at least one of these days. The larger question mark is El Capitan, so let’s see how it plays out.