If you’re a fan of dictating your messages instead of typing (fewer “ducks,” am I right?) then you’ll appreciate the improvements to dictation. Now, the keyboard will stay open during dictation so you can easily move between voice and touch. You can tap text to select it and replace it with your voice, and even send emojis without taking forever to find one.
Safari Tab Groups and Passkeys
You can create tab groups in Safari already, such as a collection of tabs for work, but in iOS 16 you can share these groups with other people. You’ll also be able to see what tabs people are viewing in real-time.
Everyone wants to get rid of passwords, and Apple is one step closer with Passkeys. These are unique digital keys you can create via Touch ID or Face ID; there’s no password to generate or type in, and Apple says they are virtually immune from being phished or leaked in a data breach. They sync across your Apple devices via iCloud Keychain and will work across apps and the web. Apple says it’s working with the FIDO Alliance for a cross-platform solution for those who also use non-Apple devices. Read more about how Passkeys work.
Updates to Live Text Visual Look Up
Live Text, the feature that lets you grab the text in any photo (before or after you snap it), now works with videos. Just pause any video and tap the text to copy it. There are a few new quick actions when you select particular kinds of text, such as converting currency and translating text.
Visual Look Up was a different feature Apple introduced last year that offered up more information on the photo you were looking at, such as details about a landmark or similar web results. It now supports birds, insects, and statues, but you can also use it to grab the subject from a photo (much like using the Lasso tool in Photoshop) to paste anywhere, like in a conversation thread in Messages.
Apple updated the Health app with a new Medication tab to help make it easier to track your medications. You can use it to add medications you need to take and set reminders (and receive them on the Apple Watch). You can manually type in these medications or just scan the label of the bottle with your phone’s camera. The data includes Critical, Serious, or Moderate interactions with the pills. You’re able to log when you’ve taken your medications, too. You can share this health data with family members.
Use Your iPhone as a Webcam
You can use your iPhone as a MacBook webcam (the rear cameras, which are significantly better than the webcam cameras), and without needing to plug anything in—your Mac will automatically detect the rear camera and use it for your video calls. (Any MacBook that can run macOS Ventura will support this feature.) You can use features like Center Stage, which has the camera following you around a room, and Portrait Mode, which blurs the background to block out the mess behind you. There’s even a Desk View mode that utilizes the ultrawide camera to show folks what’s on your desk, though I don’t want anyone seeing that. Belkin has a custom mount you can use to outfit your iPhone on top of the MacBook, and there’s even a version for Macs.
Apple Maps Goes to Vegas
Apple has been slowly redesigning select cities in the US to show off richer data. The company has added Las Vegas, Miami, Seattle, Atlanta, and Chicago to the list, and more cities are supposed to arrive this year. The feature is also available in London and Canada. Other Maps updates include the ability to add up to 15 stops before your final destination, which is great for long-distance road trips (and you can set this up on a Mac and send it straight to your iPhone). If you’re using public transit, you can now see fares, add transit cards, see low balances, and reload transit cards.
To help protect your devices from “highly sophisticated cyberattacks,” Lockdown mode adds an extreme layer of additional protection to your iPhone and iPad. When enabled, features, apps, and websites will be limited for security purposes to help keep the malware or spyware from accessing and compromising specific data. You can learn more about Lockdown Mode and how to turn it on here.
This new tool lets you quickly remove all access that you might have granted to anyone in your circles and includes an emergency reset that will sign you out of iCloud on all other devices, reset privacy permissions, and limit messaging to the device you have in your hand. It also shows you who has access to your devices and apps.
There’s now a simpler process for setting up devices for kids. Just bring your iPhone close to your iPad and choose your kids’ account. It’ll set it up with all the parental controls you configured before. You can even grant screen time extensions in the Messages app instead of having to go into the device’s settings. There’s also a Family Checklist tool for suggestions like turning on location sharing, and tweaking settings as your kids get older.
iCloud Shared Photo Library
You can now set up an iCloud Shared Photo Library, similar to how you can set up shared photo libraries in Google Photos. Just add up to five other people to a library and everyone can add and edit family photos. You can choose which photos to share, including whether to base them on a start date or via face detection. There’s also a toggle in the Camera app that you can turn on to automatically send the photo you capture to the shared library. If you’re all on vacation, these photos can even automatically show up in the shared library based on your proximity to family members.
Emergency SOS Via Satellite
Those with any model from the iPhone 14 lineup now have access to the new Emergency SOS via the Satellite feature. If you’re ever in need of assistance while in a remote location with no cellular service, the iPhone will have the ability to connect to Globalstar satellites in orbit. That way, you can communicate with emergency responders or Apple’s own Relay Center to get help.
Advanced Data Protection for iCloud
Apple has increased the number of iCloud data categories protected using end-to-end encryption. In addition to credit card and payment data, health data, and passwords, you’ll now have to option to extend this protection to other sensitive information like Notes, Photos, and iCloud Backup. You can learn more about the new feature here.
Apple ID Support for Physical Authentication Keys
In addition to two-factor authentication codes (which are required for all new Apple IDs), you now have the option to use hardware keys as part of the process. Unlike codes, hardware tokens can’t be compromised or shared as easily—adding an extra layer of security to your devices.
Support For HomePod (2nd Generation)
With the launch of a second-generation HomePod, iOS 16 unlocks a variety of new features for the new smart speaker—some of which are also available on the first-generation HomePod and HomePod Mini. On all HomePods, you can now use Find My to ask Siri the location of family and friends (if they’ve shared it with you) and set up recurring Home automation via Siri using your voice (like turning the AC on at a specific time during the day). When controlling devices that are in different rooms, you’ll also hear a new Siri confirmation tone to confirm the command has gone through.
On both the HomePod (2nd generation) and HomePod Mini, you’ll have access to the internal temperature humidity sensor. It can measure indoor environments, allowing you to set an automation such as turning the AC on when a room reaches a certain temperature. Both full-size HomePods also now come with auto-tuning optimization for spoken content like podcasts or audiobooks, which should allow for greater clarity.
Emergency SOS Controls
Prior to iOS 16.3, you could make an emergency call on your iPhone by holding the side button, one of the volume buttons, and using the Emergency SOS slider. In an effort to prevent people from accidentally triggering the feature, Apple has tweaked the controls slightly. You still have to hold down the side button and one of the volume buttons, but the call won’t go through until the countdown ends and you physically let go of the buttons.
Pay It Later With Apple Pay
Services that let you buy now but pay later have received some pushback from consumer analysts, but Apple is barreling ahead with its own take called Apple Pay Later. It allows you to split the cost of an Apple Pay purchase over four equal payments spread over six weeks with zero interest and no fees. You’ll also have the option to apply for Apple Pay Later when you’re checking out with Apple Pay (Apple says it will do a soft credit check), and you’ll need to have it backed with a debit card. It’s available everywhere Apple Pay is accepted online or in-app. You can also see order tracking directly in Apple Pay, though this is available only with participating merchants. And if you’re a small business owner, you’ll be able to accept Apple Pay payments via iPhone instead of having to use a separate terminal.
The viral, AI-generated images of Donald Trump’s arrest you may be seeing on social media are definitely fake. But some of these photorealistic creations are pretty convincing. Others look more like stills from a video game or a lucid dream. A Twitter thread by Eliot Higgins, a founder of Bellingcat, that shows Trump getting swarmed by synthetic cops, running around on the lam, and picking out a prison jumpsuit was viewed over 3 million times on the social media platform.
What does Higgins think viewers can do to tell the difference between fake, AI images, like the ones in his post, from real photographs that may come out of the former president’s potential arrest?
“Having created a lot of images for the thread, it’s apparent that it often focuses on the first object described—in this case, the various Trump family members—with everything around it often having more flaws,” Higgins said over email. Look outside of the image’s focal point. Does the rest of the image appear to be an afterthought?
Even though the newest versions of AI-image tools, like Midjourney (version 5 of which was used for the aforementioned thread) and Stable Diffusion, are making considerable progress, mistakes in the smaller details remain a common sign of fake images. As AI art grows in popularity, many artists point out that the algorithms still struggle to replicate the human body in a consistent, natural manner.
Looking at the AI images of Trump from the Twitter thread, the face looks fairly convincing in many of the posts, as do the hands, but his body proportions may look contorted or melted into a nearby police officer. Even though it’s obvious now, it’s possible that the algorithm might be able to avoid peculiar-looking body parts with more training and refinement.
Need another tell? Look for odd writing on the walls, clothing, or other visible items. Higgins points toward messy text as a way to differentiate fake images from real photos. For example, the police wear badges, hats, and other documents that appear to have lettering, at first glance, in the fake images of officers arresting Trump. Upon closer inspection, the words are nonsensical.
An additional way you can sometimes tell an image is generated by AI is by noticing over-the-top facial expressions. “I’ve also noticed that if you ask for expressions, Midjourney tends to render them in an exaggerated way, with skin creases from things like smiling being very pronounced,” Higgins said. The pained expression on Melania Trump’s face looks more like a re-creation of Edvard Munch’s The Scream or a still from some unreleased A24 horror movie than a snapshot from a human photographer.
Keep in mind that world leaders, celebrities, social media influencers, and anyone with large quantities of photos circulating online may appear more convincing in deepfaked photos than AI-generated images of people with less of a visible internet presence. “It’s clear that the more famous a person is, the more images the AI has had to learn from,” Higgins said. “So very famous people are rendered extremely well, while less famous people are usually a bit wonky.” For more peace of mind about the algorithm’s ability to re-create your face, it might be worth thinking twice before posting a photo dump of selfies after a fun night out with friends. (Though it’s likely that the AI generators have already scraped your image data from the web.)
In the lead-up to the next US presidential election, what is Twitter’s policy about AI-generated images? The social media platform’s current policy reads, in part, “You may not share synthetic, manipulated, or out-of-context media that may deceive or confuse people and lead to harm (‘misleading media’).” Twitter carves out multiple exceptions for memes, commentary, and posts not created with the intention to mislead viewers.
Just a few years ago, it was almost unfathomable that the average person would soon be able to fabricate photorealistic deepfakes of world leaders at home. As AI images become harder to differentiate from the real deal, social media platforms may need to reevaluate their approach to synthetic content and attempt to find ways of guiding users through the complex and often unsettling world of generative AI.
If you own as many backpacks as we do, you might have noticed that they’re categorized by liters rather than their inch-by-inch dimensions. The volume, or bag capacity, is a critical factor to keep in mind when purchasing a backpack. For example, a 15-liter backpack is fine for day-to-day activities, but it’s probably not going to be big enough for an overnight trip.
It’s surprisingly difficult to convey a bag’s volume given its dimensions. Let’s compare two of my favorite bags: The Rains Mini measures 15.7 inches by 11.4 by 3.9, and the Herschel Heritage measures 18 inches by 12.25 by 5.5. Given a side-by-side visual comparison, they look pretty comparable, but the Rains holds nine liters, while the Herschel holds 21.5.
So how exactly are liters measured and what amount is right for you? We talked to backpack brands to get the answers. Once you’ve determined what liter amount is right for your needs, we have more recommendations than any one person could possibly need. Check out our guides on the Best Backpacks, Best Messenger Bags, Best Recycled Bags, and Best Camera Bags, as well as options for those who prefer purses and totes.
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How Volume Is Calculated
When you think about liters, you might think about water. While there may be brands filling their bags with liquids and adding up the amount as they go, there’s a drier way to do it. According to Ahren Bonnema, product design manager at JanSport, most brands use small plastic balls (think Ping Pong balls).
“We fill a bag with them, zip everything up tight, then pour the balls into a very large, graduated cylinder with lines on the side marking liters,” Bonnema says. “It sounds a bit primitive, but it is surprisingly accurate, and the industry standard used by most pack brands.”
Since something like volume should be universal, you’d hope that translates from brand to brand. “I’ve personally probably measured dozens of competitor packs, and it is not uncommon to come across inaccuracies,” Bonnema says. Countless message boards and Reddit threads agree. The reviewers at Tree Line Review found that the claimed volume versus the volume they measured were different. (Instead of balls, they used pinto beans!) JanSport was not among the bags they looked at.
This is frustrating, especially since most of us don’t have hundreds of pinto beans on hand. Luckily, most of us don’t need such a precise capacity measurement. If all you need is a running backpack to hold your phone, jacket, and some snacks, you can comfortably assume that an 8- to 10-liter capacity will probably work. Now all you have to do is figure out what you need the bag for.
How Many Liters Do I Need?
What will you be doing? If you take your backpack to work, and all you need to carry is a laptop, wallet, chapstick, and notebook, look for a backpack that has the correct-size laptop pocket. I use the Rains in this situation to carry my 13-inch MacBook. But if you need a backpack to double as a diaper bag, to hold a full semester’s worth of books, or to take hiking and camping, the amount it holds starts to get more critical.
Backpackies has a great video guide comparing sizes. With that advice and our testing in mind, this is the broad size guide we recommend:
If you have an Eero mesh system, you can extend your Wi-Fi network with select Echo devices. Amazon acquired Eero in 2019, and the company has continued to turn out some of the best mesh Wi-Fi routers around. The Eero range is especially good for Alexa-based smart homes, offering tight integration if you link your Amazon and Eero accounts. Read on to find out which Echo devices can act as Eero Wi-Fi extenders and how to set them up, but note that Eero Built-in is only available in the US and Canada for now.
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What Is Eero Built-in?
Any Echo device with the “Eero Built-in” badge can now act as a Wi-Fi extender for your mesh network. Compatible Echo speakers extend coverage by up to 1,000 square feet, offer speeds up to 100 Mbps, and can connect up to 10 devices. All compatible Echo devices use the 5 GHz band (no 2.4 GHz or 6 GHz support).
All Eero Built-In Devices
All you need to get started is a compatible Eero gateway device (your main router). Here’s the complete list:
I’ve watched the first half of a billion movies. This is how a typical movie night goes for me: After eating too many fries from Rocketbird and washing it down with a couple of beers, I’m swaddled in a plush blanket, horizontal on the couch, and zonked out long before Michelle Yeoh reaches the hotdog finger scene in Everything Everywhere All at Once.
Maybe your schedule is hectic, but you still want to catch every twist and turn in the Glass Onion movie. Or perhaps your significant other’s date-night selection seems like a snoozefest, and you’re attempting to roll credits on Morbius. Whatever your reason is to stay awake, keep the following advice in mind the next time you’re streaming something at home.
Save the Hard Drinks for Another Night
That six-pack of beer may need to spend another evening chilling in the fridge if you’re dedicated to not dozing off during movie night. Aric Prather, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at UC San Francisco, points out the soporific effects of alcohol. “If you have that extra glass of wine while you’re watching a movie at night, and you’re not moving, and you’re sleepy?” he says. “Wow, it better be a thriller to keep you awake.”
Instead of Takeout, Try Charcuterie for Dinner
OK, so I’m now sipping on a whiskey and Coke (hold the whiskey). What about my takeout? A big, greasy pizza or a delicious mountain of Indian food is probably not ideal if you want to keep those eyes open. “Your body does have this relaxation response that can happen after eating a large meal,” says Brittney Jones, a psychologist who is an insomnia specialist at a telehealth company called DrLullaby. “So, I would say to opt for something smaller, whether it’s a snack or a small meal, like a charcuterie board.” It’s a fantastic suggestion, although she’s clearly never seen just how much cheese and crackers I can put back while devouring a charcuterie board.
Your Couch Could Be a Little Too Cozy
If you enjoy taking naps on the same couch where you’re trying to watch a movie, your body may be trained to recognize the location as a prime spot to power down. “A person might want to watch it at their partner’s house or a friend’s house instead. Or sit in a chair that’s not as comfy in your living room instead of the comfy couch,” says Jones.
Your Bed Is Definitely Too Cozy
As tempting as it appears, your bed is probably the worst place in your home to stream movies. “So, we want to try to make the bed a shrine to sleep,” says Prather. “Sleep and sex.” Do you have trouble holding down a regular sleep schedule? Movie nights in bed are definitely not the way to go. “For people who have a tendency toward sleep problems, or they already have sleep problems, it can help perpetuate those,” he says. “Your body gets a bit confused about what it’s supposed to be doing.”
Face Your Overall Sleep Deficit
“If a person is sleep deprived, and then they want to watch a movie at night? You might not make it even 30 minutes into the movie,” says Jones. She suggests trying to rest up the night before, as well as addressing any root causes behind your lack of sleep.
Keep the Remote Nearby to Press Pause
Get your blood pumping again with frequent breaks during the movie, and not just when you need to use the bathroom. Feel like you’re on the precipice of falling asleep? “That might be a cue to press pause, get up, get some popcorn, get a beverage, move around a little bit,” says Jones.
Give Into the Decadent Bliss of Sleep
“I would not try to stay awake,” writes Christine Blume, a sleep scientist at the Centre for Chronobiology in Switzerland, over email. “Give your body what it obviously, desperately needs.” She has a point! If you’re exhausted after an energy-depleting week, cutting movie night a little bit short is a healthy decision.
Keeps Happening? Consider Talking to a Physician
Habitually falling asleep while watching movies could potentially be a sign of undiagnosed sleep apnea, Prather says, “if it’s happening constantly and it’s happening in other settings, particularly in the daytime after what you think is an OK night of sleep.” Does this apply to you? Think about reaching out to your primary care provider to have a conversation about sleep issues.