You’d be forgiven for not knowing what your Apple gadgets can do. The trillion-dollar tech giant rolls out new devices and software updates routinely – and, boy, is it hard to keep up.
So, to help you make the most out of your newest iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Apple TV this festive season (because technological failures can be as disheartening as kitchen mishaps), we’ve rounded up some of Apple’s best features that will make sure that your last few weeks of 2021 are as merry as they are bright. Ahead, discover the best tips and tricks for your iPhone 13, new iPad, Apple Watch 7 and Apple TV you’ll use well into the new year. Don’t own any one of these devices? These nifty features may change that.
How to use Apple products like a pro this holiday season:
iPhone 13 and iOS15
One of the most notable features of the new iPhone 13 – for videography and photography enthusiasts at least – is the Cinematic mode. Similar to the existing Portrait mode for photography, the iPhone 13-exclusive feature adds a bokeh effect to your recordings, resulting in a cinema-grade look. To use, simply open the camera app and swipe to Cinematic mode. You can adjust the depth, zoom, exposure and flash settings via the arrow button on the side panel in landscape mode pre-shoot. Switch focus as you record by tapping a subject in the viewfinder or double tap to set automatic focus tracking. After a video is taken, you can edit the depth of field and change the focus points of a video in the Photos app. Find out more here.
On the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max, you can take extreme close-up photos and videos with the Ultra Wide camera. All you need to do is just get really close to the subject (as close as 2cm) and the camera will automatically focus, giving you stunning details. To disable the automatic switch from Wide to Ultra Wide camera, make sure you’re on iOS 15.2 or later, then go to Settings, Camera and turn on Macro Control. On the Camera app, tap the flower icon when it appears on screen to remain on the Wide camera (which prevents the flickering that happens in auto mode).
Ever wished you could lift text from an image file? With the iOS 15, you can. The Live Text and Visual Look Up features on the latest iPhone OS allows you to copy and share text within a photo and translate languages – meaning you can, for example, point your camera at a French menu or a popular (unidentified) landmark and have your iPhone decode it for you. Want to save your host’s Christmas fruit cake recipe? Open the camera app, tap the icon with the lines on the bottom right of the viewfinder, touch and move the grab points to select the words, and tap copy. Paste the text in your preferred document app. You can search, translate and share text in the pop-up option bar when text is selected. Find out more here.
iPad and iPadOS 15
What drew us to the new iPad mini is its handy size (it’s bigger than the biggest iPhone but smaller than the smallest MacBook), the brand-new A15 Bionic chip that delivers up to 80% faster performance than its predecessors, and Centre Stage, which was previously only available on iPad Pro. The benefit of Centre Stage is more pronounced than ever at this time of the year, as we connect with friends and family remotely through video calls. It automatically pans the camera to keep users in view as they move around, so there’s no need to adjust the device as long as users remain within the field of view. The camera also detects when another person joins in the conversation and zooms out to include them on the screen. Find out more here.
Mark this up as one of your “idle time” practices during the holiday downtime. Apple has introduced new features on iWork (Keynote, Pages and Numbers), and we think it’s a good idea to try them out in preparation for the new year. One tool we find immensely useful is the ability to show a live camera view of a presenter directly in slides on Keynote, which makes presentations more engaging. There is also a new multi-presenter option that allows everyone to easily control a shared slideshow from their iPhone, iPad or Mac, even remotely. Find out more here.
iPad Learning Guide
Thinking of getting a new iPad for your kiddo? Apple has created a learning guide for parents that underlines the potential of the tablet in fuelling creativity in children. Read more here.
Apple Watch & watchOS8
You can now use hand gestures like pinching and clenching to navigate menus and control apps on your Apple Watch without touching the screen – like double clenching to pick up a call or activate Apple Pay. This feature is currently available on the Series 6, 7 and SE wearables, and you can set it up in the Watch app via the Accessibility and AssistiveTouch tab.
Keep up to date on your loved ones’ health with the new Sharing function in the Health app. Users have control on the data they wish to share, and those privy to the wellness stats can receive notifications when there are changes. To set up sharing, open the Health app on your iPhone, select the Sharing tab and tap Share with someone. You’ll need an iPhone or iPod touch with iOS15 or later, as well as an iCloud account with Health turned on for both parties. Find out more here.
Apple TV4K and tvOS 15
With the A12 Bionic chip comes a boost in graphics performance, video decoding and audio processing for an impressive cinematic experience at home. Everyone in the family can now also enjoy their own personalised recommendations for shows in the “Watch Now” section in the AppleTV app. If, say, Dad shared a series he’s interested in watching on family nights on the Messages app, the movie or the show will appear in your “Shared with You” items on Apple TV.
Not too keen on movies post-dinner? Keep guests (or your family) entertained with Apple Arcade’s suite of more than 200 (and counting) ad-free games. Try the SongPop Party, a song-guessing game, or bust a move in Just Dance Now; both games allow up to six players. For a limited time, eligible customers who purchase a new iPhone, iPad and Apple TV can enjoy three free months of Apple Arcade and Apple TV+.