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The Hardware You’ll Need to Run Apple’s 2023 Operating Systems

At Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference in June, the company unveiled the upcoming versions of its operating systems: macOS 14 Sonoma, iOS 17, iPadOS 17, watchOS 10, and tvOS 17. They won’t be available until September or October of 2023, and even once they ship, we recommend waiting a few weeks before upgrading your smaller Apple devices and holding off on macOS upgrades for a couple of months.

Regardless, it’s worth considering how these operating systems might impact your plans to buy new hardware in the next six months. Any Apple device you purchase now—or have bought in the last five years—can run the new operating systems. But some devices that can run the current macOS 13 Ventura, iOS 16, and iPadOS 16 won’t be upgradable to their replacements later this year. More importantly, some older devices that can be upgraded won’t support all the new features.

Here’s what you’ll need and compatibility gotchas to keep in mind.

macOS 14 Sonoma

For macOS 14 Sonoma, Apple has dropped support for Mac models released before 2018. That works out to five models across the iMac, MacBook Pro, and MacBook product lines. If you rely on one of those Macs and want to run Sonoma, think about when it would make sense to buy a new Mac, perhaps in early 2024. By then, all new Macs will likely ship with Sonoma. These Macs can run Sonoma:

  • iMac: 2018 and later
  • iMac Pro: 2017
  • MacBook: None
  • MacBook Air: 2018 and later
  • MacBook Pro: 2018 and later
  • Mac mini: 2018 and later
  • Mac Pro: 2019 and later
  • Mac Studio: 2022 and later

The specific 2017 Mac models that are stuck at Ventura are:

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

Unsurprisingly, some new features in Sonoma require sufficient processing power that they work only on Macs with Apple silicon—one of the M1 or M2 chips.

  • Game Mode: This special 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.
  • Just “Siri”: Although dropping “Hey” from the “Hey Siri” trigger phrase works on all iPhones with iOS 17 and iPads with iPadOS 17, it requires a Mac with Apple silicon or when using the AirPods Pro (2nd generation).
  • Made for iPhone hearing aids: Apple-compatible hearing aids can now be paired directly with Macs, but only those with an M1 Pro, M1 Max, M1 Ultra, or M2. That works out to the MacBook Pro (14-inch, 2021), MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2021), Mac Studio (2022), and all Macs with the M2.
  • Presenter Overlay: You can keep your image visible while sharing your screen on a video call, either in front of the shared screen or in a small movable bubble.
  • React with your hands: During video calls, 3D augmented-reality reaction effects like hearts, confetti, and fireworks can be triggered with hand gestures, but only on Macs with Apple silicon or when using Continuity Camera with an iPhone 12 or later.
  • Screen Sharing performance improvements: Apple has radically improved the performance of the Screen Sharing app over high-bandwidth connections, but it requires the advanced media engine in Apple silicon.

If you’re unsure which Mac you have, choose About This Mac from the Apple menu.

iOS 17

With iOS 17, Apple has maintained the same cutoff date as Sonoma, supporting all iPhone models released in 2018 and later. That means you’ll be able to run iOS 17 on these iPhones:

  • iPhone 14/Plus/Pro/Pro Max
  • iPhone 13/mini/Pro/Pro Max
  • iPhone 12/mini/Pro/Pro Max
  • iPhone 11/Pro/Pro Max
  • iPhone SE (2nd generation or later)
  • iPhone XR/XS/XS Max

Practically speaking, these iOS 16-compatible devices won’t be able to upgrade to iOS 17:

  • iPhone X
  • iPhone 8/8 Plus

Several new iOS 17 features have more restrictive system requirements.

  • Enhanced autocorrect: iOS 17 enhances autocorrect so it works better (and yes, it will let you use curse words), and it temporarily underlines autocorrected words so you can see which ones were changed. It requires an iPhone 12 or later.
  • Inline predictions: Similarly, inline predictions of what you’re going to type—so you can just accept the suggestion rather than tapping out all those letters—require an iPhone 12 or later.
  • Point and Speak: Those with vision disabilities might appreciate the Point and Speak feature that makes it easier 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.
  • React with your hands: The hand-triggered video call reactions require an iPhone 12 or later.

If you can’t remember which iPhone model you have, go to Settings > General > About and look next to Model Name. This works for the iPad, too.

iPadOS 17

It’s more involved to determine whether your iPad can upgrade to iPadOS 17 because there are four different iPad model types with varying capabilities. These models can run iPadOS 17:

  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2nd–6th generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (1st–3rd generation)
  • iPad Pro 10.5-inch
  • iPad Air (3rd–5th generation)
  • iPad (6th–10th generation)
  • iPad mini (5th & 6th generation)

While that list encompasses a lot of iPads, a simpler way to look at it is that only three iPad models that can run iOS 16 won’t be able to upgrade to iOS 17:

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

Because Apple extended overall iPadOS 17 compatibility somewhat further back than it did with iOS 17 and macOS Sonoma, quite a few iPadOS 17 features work only on select models:

  • Back-to-back Siri requests: Although all iPhones will let you issue multiple requests to Siri without reactivating it, on the iPad, the feature works only on 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).
  • Enhanced autocorrect: This improvement to typing requires an 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 cameras: If you want to take advantage of an external display’s camera while it’s attached to the iPad, you’ll need 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 with Apple TV: Using an iPad’s mic and camera for FaceTime on an Apple TV 4K (2nd generation) requires an 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).
  • Inline predictions: Getting suggestions about what to type next on the iPad requires an 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).
  • PDF AutoFill: iPadOS 17 will use machine learning to analyze PDFs, and if it detects a form, you can fill it out automatically using your contact information. But only if you’re using 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).
  • React with your hands: As with the iPhone and Mac, only some models let you trigger reactions with gestures: the 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), and iPad mini (6th generation).
  • Screen Distance: This health-related feature is supposed to encourage kids to hold the iPad farther away to reduce the likelihood of developing myopia. But how many kids read on an iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation and later) or iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd generation and later)?

watchOS 10

The Apple Watch has a simple upgrade story: every model compatible with watchOS 9 can also run watchOS 10. That means everything from the Apple Watch Series 4 up through the Apple Watch Ultra, including the Apple Watch SE. (Look in the Watch app on your iPhone if you can’t remember which model you have.)

Two of the new features promised for watchOS 10 work only on specific models:

  • The NameDrop feature that lets you transfer contact information wirelessly with just proximity works with all iOS 17-compatible iPhones, but it can communicate only with an Apple Watch SE, Apple Watch Series 6 or later, or Apple Watch Ultra.
  • The Time in Daylight feature that helps parents track whether their kids are spending the recommended 80–120 minutes per day outside requires an Apple Watch SE (2nd generation), Apple Watch Series 6 or later, or Apple Watch Ultra.

tvOS 17

As with the Apple Watch, the Apple TV upgrade situation is easy to understand: tvOS 17 will run on the Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K (1st and 2nd generation), just as with tvOS 16.

However, note that the promised option to let you use the mic and camera from an iPhone or iPad for FaceTime calls on the Apple TV works only if you have an Apple TV 4K (2nd generation). That might be the first real reason to upgrade from an older Apple TV.

(Featured image by Apple)


Social Media: Later this year, Apple will release macOS 14 Sonoma, iOS 17, iPadOS 17, watchOS 10, and tvOS 17. Here’s the hardware you’ll need to run these operating systems—and to support some of the whizzier features.


Use Face ID While Wearing a Mask in iOS 15.4

Shortly after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Apple made it so your Apple Watch could unlock your Face ID-enabled iPhone when you were wearing a mask. Starting in iOS 15.4, the company has taken the next step and enabled Face ID on the iPhone 12 and later to work even when you’re wearing a mask. If you didn’t already set up Face ID with a mask after updating to iOS 15.4, go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode and enable Face ID with a Mask. You’ll have to run through the Face ID training sequence again, and more than once if you sometimes wear glasses, but it’s quick and easy. Face ID may not work quite as well when you’re wearing a mask, and it doesn’t support sunglasses, but it’s way better than having to enter your passcode whenever you’re masked.

(Featured image by iStock.com/Prostock-Studio)


Set Custom Text Sizes on a Per-App Basis in iOS 15

In previous versions of iOS, you could change the systemwide text size to make all apps—at least those that support Dynamic Type—display text at larger or smaller sizes. (Most people who use this feature want the text larger so it’s easier to read with aging eyes.) In iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, however, Apple lets you adjust the text size on a per-app basis, so you can increase it only for those apps where it really makes a difference for you. First, make sure Text Size is showing in Control Center by going to Settings > Control Center, and if it’s not in Included Controls, tap the green + button for it under More Controls. Then, while in an app where you want bigger text, invoke Control Center, tap the Text Size button, move the vertical slider to the desired setting, and then tap the App Only button so the setting affects only that app, not all apps.

(Featured image by iStock.com/SandraMatic)


Shrink Apps to Prevent the MacBook Pro Notch from Obscuring App Controls

The new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models feature a camera housing built into the screen, resulting in a notch like that on the iPhone. Most developers are updating their apps to ensure that no controls or menu bar items appear blocked or hidden by the notch, but if you use an older app that doesn’t play nicely with the notch, there’s a fix. Quit the app if it’s running, select it in the Finder’s Applications folder, and choose File > Get Info. In the Info window that opens, select “Scale to fit below built-in camera.” The active area of the display resizes so everything appears below the notch, slightly reducing the overall screen space. This checkbox won’t appear once the app has been updated to avoid the notch.

(Featured image by Apple)


New M1 Pro and M1 Max Chips Power the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros

Last year, Apple started to transition Macs away from Intel processors to its custom M1 system-on-a-chip. The M1’s performance is stellar, but Apple has used it only in low-end models so far: the MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, Mac mini, and new 24-inch iMac. For professionals looking for more power, Apple unveiled the future of high-end Macs at its October 18th Unleashed event.

Two new chips—the M1 Pro and M1 Max—increase performance significantly beyond the M1, and Apple built them into new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models along with features that respond to criticisms of previous models. Welcome as these new MacBook Pros are, many people were also hoping to see an Apple silicon refresh of the popular 27-inch iMac. That didn’t happen, but Apple released several other music-related products and services at the event.

AirPods, HomePod mini, Apple Music, and Monterey Announcements

In a quick set of announcements at the start of its event, Apple revealed an update to the popular AirPods, new colors of the HomePod mini, and a budget pricing tier for Apple Music. Plus, press releases revealed the ship date for macOS 12 Monterey.

  • Third-generation AirPods: Building on the success of the classic AirPods and AirPods Pro, Apple redesigned the third-generation AirPods to have shorter mic stalks, force sensor controls, support for spatial audio, Adaptive EQ, longer battery life, wireless case charging, and sweat and water resistance.
  • New HomePod mini colors: Looking to coordinate your electronics with your decor? In November, the HomePod mini will be available in blue, orange, and yellow, as well as the traditional black and white.
  • Apple Music Voice Plan: A new Apple Music Voice Plan reduces the cost of Apple Music for those who interact with the streaming service largely through Siri, but it lacks lyrics, music videos, spatial and lossless audio, and support for non-Apple devices.
  • macOS 12 Monterey release date: Hidden in the fine print in Apple’s press releases was the fact that macOS 12 Monterey—along with iOS 15.1, iPadOS 15.1, watchOS 8.1, and tvOS 15.1—will become available on October 25th. We strongly recommend that you do not upgrade to Monterey until we give the go-ahead. If you’ve already upgraded to the other new operating systems, it should be safe to install those updates a week or two after release.

New 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros Answer Customer Desires

Apple’s professional MacBook Pro has been a workhorse of the Mac lineup for years, offering high-end performance in a portable package. Since 2016, however, customers have expressed irritation at Apple’s removal of ports other than Thunderbolt 3, the loss of MagSafe magnetic charging, and the Touch Bar replacing traditional F-keys. Here’s how the new MacBook Pros respond to those concerns.

  • Ports: Previously, the MacBook Pro had just four Thunderbolt 3 ports, forcing users to carry dongles to connect to legacy devices. The new models still lack USB-A ports but supplement three Thunderbolt 4 ports with an HDMI port for video, an SDXC card slot for camera media, and a headphone jack.
  • MagSafe: Although you can charge using the Thunderbolt 4 ports, most people will rely on the dedicated MagSafe 3 charging port. The MacBook Pros (apart from the low-end 14-inch model) include powerful chargers and a USB-C to MagSafe 3 charging cable capable of fast-charging the devices. They should also provide longer battery life than previous models.
  • F-keys with Touch ID: The Touch Bar hasn’t been a success, never migrating to any other Mac models and eliciting tepid support from developers. With these new MacBook Pros, Apple has reversed course, replacing the Touch Bar with traditional F-keys. A Touch ID sensor remains available for authentication at the top-right corner of the keyboard.

Although Apple did equip the 13-inch MacBook Pro with an M1 chip in November 2020, it wasn’t notably faster than the cheaper but largely comparable M1-based MacBook Air. We suspect no one will be complaining about the performance of the new 14-inch and 16-inch models thanks to the addition of Apple’s just-released M1 Pro and M1 Max chips.

  • M1: For reference, last year’s M1 chip—widely acclaimed for providing excellent performance—offers an 8-core CPU with four performance and four efficiency cores, a 7-core or 8-core GPU, and either 8 GB or 16 GB of unified memory.
  • M1 Pro: The M1 Pro offers up to 1.7 times the performance of the M1 thanks to a 10-core CPU that has eight performance and two efficiency cores. Plus, its 16-core GPU is up to twice as fast as the M1. The M1 Pro provides either 16 GB or 32 GB of unified memory, and it increases the memory bandwidth by nearly three times, up to 200 gigabytes per second (GBps). To provide lower price points for 14-inch MacBook Pro configurations, Apple offers versions of the M1 Pro with an 8-core CPU (six performance and two efficiency cores) or a 14-core GPU.
  • M1 Max: The M1 Max has the same 10-core CPU as the M1 Pro but provides a massive 32-core GPU with up to four times the performance of the M1. The largest chip Apple has ever made, the M1 Max offers either 32 GB or 64 GB of memory, and it doubles the M1 Pro’s memory bandwidth to 400 GBps, nearly six times faster than the M1. A lower-cost M1 Max configuration has a 24-core GPU.

Both the M1 Pro and M1 Max feature an Apple-designed media engine that accelerates video processing while maximizing battery life. Both also have dedicated acceleration for the ProRes professional video codec for working with 4K and 8K video. The M1 Max doubles the M1 Pro’s performance for video encoding and provides two ProRes accelerators. In other words, if you’re working with video, these new Macs are going to scream, particularly with an M1 Max.

Apple didn’t stop after radically improving performance and bringing back beloved features. The new MacBook Pros feature new Liquid Retina XDR displays based on technology used in the latest iPad Pro models.

Most notably, for those who need more screen space than the 13-inch MacBook Pro can provide, the new MacBook Pro models have higher resolution displays. The 14-inch screen has a 3024-by-1964 native resolution that’s slightly larger than the previous 16-inch MacBook Pro (3072‑by‑1920), and the new 16-inch model offers even more pixels with a 3456-by-2234 resolution. The new displays are more than twice as bright as the previous models, and they support ProMotion, which adjusts the screen refresh rate (and thus power consumption) to match the needs of the onscreen content.

On the downside, Apple brought the new displays so close to the case edges that the new 1080p FaceTime HD camera (better videoconferencing quality but no Center Stage support) lives in an iPhone-like notch that cuts the Mac menu bar in half. Full-screen apps can avoid the notch. Although the notch isn’t ideal, iPhone users seldom notice it after a short while, and we expect the same will be true here.

The only other negative for the new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models is weight. They’re both about 0.4 pounds (0.18 kg) heavier than the models they replace, at 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg) for the 14-inch model and 4.7 or 4.8 pounds (2.1 or 2.2 kg) for the 16-inch model—the M1 Max configurations are a bit heavier.

Despite the notch and the weight, these are impressive new entries in the Mac lineup, and we anticipate they’ll be well-received by users who are happy to pay more for top-of-the-line machines. Numerous options are available, so you can choose an M1 Pro or M1 Max for either size, and pick from 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB unified memory configurations. When it comes to storage (which Apple says is also more than twice as fast as previous SSDs), your choices are 512 GB, 1 TB, 2 TB, 4 TB, and 8 TB.

We can’t make informed recommendations about what options you should choose until users start testing their real-world workflows against the M1 Pro and M1 Max and see how much memory is really necessary. For now, let your budget be your guide, and aim for an M1 Max if you work with video. You can place orders with Apple now, but be warned that global supply chain issues may mean waiting for some configurations.

(Featured image by Apple)


Social Media: At its October 18th Unleashed event, Apple unveiled the new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models, powered by the impressive new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. Read on for details:


Upgrade to iOS 14.5 and watchOS 7.4 to Unlock Face ID iPhones with Your Watch

You have to feel for Apple sometimes. The company’s engineers put an astonishing amount of work into the hardware and software necessary for Face ID to recognize your face nearly instantly and unlock your iPhone or iPad. Regardless of whether you’re wearing a hat and glasses. Even in the dark. It’s one of those pieces of technology that’s so advanced that it’s indistinguishable from magic.

But the one thing that stymies Face ID every time is also the most important factor in curbing the spread of the coronavirus: the humble face mask. We’ve all been wearing masks for the past year, so if you have an iPhone X or later with Face ID, you’ve undoubtedly been annoyed by having to tap in your passcode repeatedly while masked. Early in the pandemic, Apple tweaked iOS 13 so you could enter a passcode without waiting for Face ID to fail. That was a help, but with the just-released iOS 14.5, Apple has now made the problem go away entirely, at least if you have an Apple Watch.

Here’s how it works. Once you’ve updated your Face ID–enabled iPhone to iOS 14.5 and your Apple Watch Series 3 or later to watchOS 7.4, you can enable the Unlock with Apple Watch setting. From then on, if your mask prevents Face ID from unlocking your iPhone, iOS will check to see if your watch is nearby, on your wrist, protected by a passcode, and unlocked. If so, your iPhone unlocks immediately, just as though it had scanned your face successfully. Your Apple Watch also taps your wrist to alert you and give you the option of locking the iPhone again, just in case someone has surreptitiously snagged your iPhone and is using the feature to unlock it in your presence.

To enable this feature, go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode on your iPhone, scroll down to Unlock with Apple Watch, and turn on the switch next to your Apple Watch. If you don’t have a passcode enabled for your Apple Watch, turn that on in the Watch app, in My Watch > Passcode. (While you’re on that screen, be sure to enable Unlock with iPhone too, since that prevents you from having to type the Apple Watch passcode in nearly all situations.)

That’s all there is to it—it’s brilliant! Apple undoubtedly put a great deal of thought into architecting this feature so it’s easy to use without compromising the iPhone’s security. If you haven’t yet updated to iOS 14.5 and watchOS 7.4, we encourage you to do so right away to take advantage of this feature. And if you don’t yet have an Apple Watch, this might be reason enough to get one.

(Featured image by Uriel Mont from Pexels)


New Back Tap Feature in iOS 14 Provides Two Customizable Shortcuts

We all have things we do regularly on our iPhones, whether it’s checking the weather, searching Google, or invoking the magnifier. Apple has long provided ways of making your most common actions easier to access. You might put an app on your Dock, open Control Center, or take advantage of the triple-press Accessibility shortcut. With iOS 14, Apple has opened up a new and customizable way of triggering actions: Back Tap.Read More


What’s MDM, and Why Is It Useful for Organizations?

For those who work in organizations, regardless of size, you know how much effort is involved with coordinating a group’s technology. It can take quite some time to set up a new Mac, iPad, or iPhone with all the right apps, settings, and logins. And that’s just to get started—on an everyday basis, maintaining solid security practices is essential, and support requests are inevitable.Read More


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