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iOS 14 photo
Copyright: Copyright © 2020 TidBits

Harvest season is here again, and Apple has deemed iOS 14 (along with iPadOS 14, watchOS 7, and tvOS 14) ready for the picking. Although the betas have been pretty stable and no major problems have appeared in the first few days, we still recommend waiting at least a few weeks before installing via Settings > General > Software Update. In large part, that’s because many developers were taken by surprise by Apple’s release, so they’re working hard to release updates that work properly with iOS 14 and take advantage of its new features. 

When you decide to take the leap and install—be sure to make a backup first, just in case—here are four features we recommend you check out right away. 

Touch Bar Photo
Copyright: Copyright © 2020 TidBits

In 2016, Apple introduced the Touch Bar with the MacBook Pro. It’s a long, thin display above the number keys on the keyboard that shows a variety of buttons and controls. By default, it changes depending on which app you’re in, and it also displays the Control Strip, a collection of controls that roughly mimics the functions accessible from the F-keys that traditionally live in that position. Finally, it includes the Touch ID sensor that brings fingerprint authentication to the Mac.

Since its launch, however, the Touch Bar hasn’t migrated to any other Macs or keyboards, although the MacBook Air picked up a Touch ID sensor without the rest of the Touch Bar. As a result, developers haven’t been as enthusiastic about supporting the Touch Bar as they might have been. Nevertheless, it provides useful shortcuts in many apps, and you can customize it more to your liking. (Plus, although we’re not going into those details here, Apple is making the Touch Bar even more useful and customizable in macOS 11 Big Sur.)​

Privacy Please tag
Copyright: Copyright © 2020 TidBits

Over the last few releases of macOS, Apple has been beefing up the Mac’s privacy controls so they more closely resemble what the company has done in iOS. You’ve undoubtedly noticed that when you first launch a new app on your iPhone or iPad, it often prompts for access to your contacts or your photos, the camera or microphone, and so on. The idea behind those prompts is that you should always be aware of how a particular app can access your personal data or features of your device. You might not want to let some new game thumb through your photos or record your voice.

Apple Watches
Copyright: Copyright © 2020 TidBits

In its “Time Flies” special event on September 15th, Apple cleared the decks of some secondary releases to make room for the anticipated unveiling of the iPhone 12 in a few weeks. Secondary though these products may be compared to the iPhone, the new Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch SE, fourth-generation iPad Air, and eighth-generation iPad are nothing to sneeze at.

Apple also announced a new subscription service, Apple Fitness+, and three discounted Apple One bundles of its subscription services. 

Lastly, Apple said that iOS 14, iPadOS 14, watchOS 7, and tvOS 14 would ship on September 16th, and they did indeed. We’ll have more about those releases soon, but we recommend that you wait at least a few weeks before updating devices you rely on. Although the betas have been pretty stable, nasty bugs may surface as millions of users start using the new operating systems.

Big Sur Desktop photo
Copyright: Copyright © 2020 TidBits

As we get into September, it’s a good bet that Apple will soon—either this month or next—be pushing out major upgrades for macOS, iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, and tvOS. Apple previewed these new versions at its Worldwide Developers Conference back in June, and they’ve been in public beta for a few months. Once Apple makes macOS 11 Big Sur, iOS 14, iPadOS 14, watchOS 7, and tvOS 14 available, the question looms large—when should you install them?

(Note that we say when and not if. There’s no harm in delaying a major operating system upgrade until Apple has squashed early bugs. But waiting too long puts you at risk from security vulnerabilities and prevents you from taking advantage of compelling new features. Plus, when you buy a new Mac, iPhone, or iPad after these operating systems have shipped, you’ll get the new version, and it may not even be possible to downgrade. It’s best to be prepared in the event that you’re forced to replace one of your Apple devices unexpectedly.)