Apple 15.2 has arrived and it has a big job on its hands. Little has improved for iPhone owners with the iOS 15.1 and iOS 15.1.1 releases following the dumpster fire iOS 15 launch. Are things finally looking up? Possibly. Here’s everything you need to know.
Tip: bookmark this page because I will keep it up to date if/when new problems are found. I will deliver my final verdict in a week.
Who Is It For?
Apple iOS 15.2 is available for all iOS 14-compatible devices, aka the iPhone 6S and newer. You should be automatically notified to upgrade but, if not, the update can be triggered manually by navigating to Settings > General > Software Update. If you are running a newer iOS 15 beta (see ‘The Road Ahead’ section at the end), you must unenroll your iPhone first before iOS 15.2 will show up.
Note: this guide is not focused on older iOS updates or iPadOS, but I will touch upon pertinent issues in these guides.
The Deal Breakers
Jailbreakers continue to be locked in stasis. Unc0ver and checkra1n have not yet cracked the later iOS 14 releases, let alone iOS 15. So if you want your iPhone to remain jailbroken, you will have to stay where you are. iPhone 13 owners, having launched with iOS 15, have yet to benefit from a supported jailbreak.
For everyone else, 24 hours after release early user reports are promising. Yes, users are complaining about existing bugs not being fixed like the interminable Storage Full bug, hotspot issues, (now typical) Apple Music glitches and isolated problems with the new Legacy Contacts feature (more below). There have been no show stoppers yet, though based on the short history of iOS 15 to date, I stress yet.
So What Do You Get?
iOS 15.2 is the most feature packed Apple release since iOS 15. Here are Apple’s official release notes:
“iOS 15.2 adds Apple Music Voice Plan, a new subscription tier that provides access to music using Siri. This update also includes the App Privacy Report, new safety features for children and parents in Messages, and other features and bug fixes for your iPhone.”
Apple Music Voice Plan
- Apple Music Voice Plan is a new subscription tier that gives you access to all songs, playlists, and stations in Apple Music using Siri
- Just Ask Siri suggests music based on your listening history and likes or dislikes
- Play it Again lets you access a list of your recently played music
- App Privacy Report in Settings lets you see how often apps have accessed your location, photos, camera, microphone, contacts and more during the last seven days, as well as their network activity
- Communication safety setting gives parents the ability to enable warnings for children when they receive or send photos that contain nudity
- Safety warnings contain helpful resources for children when they receive photos that contain nudity
Siri and Search
- Expanded guidance in Siri, Spotlight and Safari Search to help children and parents stay safe online and get help with unsafe situations
- Digital Legacy allows you to designate people as Legacy Contacts so they can access your iCloud account and personal information in the event of your death
- Macro photo control for switching to the Ultra Wide lens to capture macro photos and videos can be enabled in Settings on iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max
- Store tab lets you browse, buy, and rent movies and TV Shows all in one place
- Enhanced city map in Apple Maps with road details like turn lanes, medians, bike lanes, and pedestrian crosswalks for supported cities
This release also includes the following enhancements for your iPhone:
- Hide My Email is available in the Mail app for iCloud+ subscribers to create unique, random email addresses
- Find My can locate iPhone for up to five hours when in Power Reserve
- Stocks allows you to view the currency for a ticker and see year-to-date performance when viewing charts
- Reminders and Notes now allow you to delete or rename tags
This release also includes bug fixes for your iPhone:
- Siri may not respond while VoiceOver is running and iPhone is locked
- ProRAW photos may appear overexposed when viewing in third-party photo editing apps
- HomeKit scenes that include a garage door may not run from CarPlay when your iPhone is locked
- CarPlay may not update Now Playing information for certain apps
- Video streaming apps may not load content on iPhone 13 models
- Calendar events may appear on the wrong day for Microsoft Exchange users
Strangely, the highlight in iOS 15.2 is not listed. Navigate to Settings > General > About and you will find a ‘Parts And Service History’ for your device. This brings much needed transparency for buyers of second hand iPhones as it will flag any replaced parts and label them ‘Genuine Apple Part’ or ‘Unknown Part’.
The flipside to this, is historically genuine parts have on occasion still been flagged if they were not installed by an approved Apple repairer. It remains to be seen if this will happen again following Apple’s expansion of its repair program, but the change is likely to push more iPhone owners to Apple for fear that any ‘Unknown Part’ will affect second hand sales prices.
Elsewhere, App Privacy controls will further reduce third-party tracking while the company continues to introduce elements of its child safety program despite its controversial CSAM image scanning software being delayed for now.
Interestingly, Apple has also revealed a number of fixes in iOS 15.2 though by far the biggest is conspicuous by its absence. That said, Apple regularly omits bug fixes in iOS release notes (you may draw your own conclusions about this) and there are isolated cases that suggest the Bluetooth car connectivity problems seen in iOS 15.1 and iOS 15.1.1 might have been quietly patched.
As for security, Apple’s official security page reveals that iOS 15.2 has no less than 42 security fixes. These cover the widest range of security vulnerabilities I can remember in a point release, with flaws found in audio, FaceTime, Password Manager, Preferences and seven alone in Webkit — the browser engine used by Safari. Apple doesn’t explicitly state any of these are zero-day hacks but the sheer number makes iOS 15.2 an important update.
Apple iOS 15.2 Verdict: Running iOS 15? Upgrade; Running iOS 14? Hold
iOS 15.2 is a big release full of new features, fixes and security upgrades. Unless any major gremlins appear in the coming days (I will keep this guide updated), this looks like the most promising iOS 15 release so far and a no-brainer — especially due to the security patches.
Those still on iOS 14 continue to receive security updates so you do not need to rush to upgrade if you are still understandably hesitant about moving to iOS 15. But (whisper it) this could be the one.
Note: bookmark this guide, I will continue to update it with any relevant flaws or features I find and you will receive my final verdict here in one week.
The Road Ahead
At the time of publication, Apple has yet to release the next iOS 15 beta version. I would expect iOS 15.2.1 to arrive without public beta testing (there are still plenty of bugs in iOS 15 to fix) with iOS 15.3 being released to developers soon before 6-8 weeks of public tests. Watch this space.
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AMD's Entry Level Radeon RX 6500 XT Launch is Not Going Well – ExtremeTech
(Image: AMD)Back at CES a few weeks ago, AMD invited people to “step up your game” with its upcoming Radeon RX 6500 XT graphics card. It was marketed as the first “entry level” RDNA2 GPU from the company, and that status was confirmed by its low-ish asking price of just $199. The prospect of a budget-friendly GPU with advanced features is certainly appetizing, and quite welcome right now given the current GPU shortage. However, it seems the launch isn’t going very well, for one simple reason: the company graced the GPU with a measly 4GB of VRAM. It’s a bit embarrassing for AMD, given that it has railed against such low RAM loadouts in the past.
Of course, there’s other reasons for the card receiving sideways glances in online reviews. It has a minuscule 64-bit memory bus while offering 16 ray tracing cores, which seems totally pointless. Ray tracing would absolutely crush a card with this amount of horsepower, so it’s more of a marketing gimmick than a feature gamers would actually use. AMD did endow the card with 16MB of Infinity Cache, which does help with memory bandwidth, but with such a narrow pipe it’s really an uphill battle. It’s also limited to just four PCIe 4.0 lanes, which means if the card is dropped into an older system that only has PCIe 3.0, available bandwidth is cut in half, going from 8GB/s to 4GB/s. PCGamer writes: “Effectively you’re getting RX 580 performance, sometimes lower because of having half the VRAM.”
However, the biggest issue AMD is dealing with is its alleged attempt to conceal a blog post written in June of 2020, which argued that 4GB of RAM was insufficient for the the latest titles (which we covered here at the time). Kitguru noticed the post had been scrubbed from AMD’s website, which seemingly prompted the company to repost it in all its glory, but Kitguru noted that the post was missing for approximately four hours or so.
In the original post AMD declares, “Competitive products at a similar entry level price-point are offering up to a maximum of 4GB of VRAM, which is evidently not enough for todays games. Go Beyond 4GB of Video Memory to Crank Up your settings.” Despite its earlier proclamations, in January PCWorld interviewed AMD CEO Lisa Su and Radeon vice president Laura Smith about the card, and one of them exclaimed, “We have really optimized this one to be gaming first… You can see that with the way we’ve configured the part. Even with the four gigs of frame buffer, that’s a really nice frame buffer size for the majority of triple-A games…” To be fair to AMD though, the post was written by a Radeon Product Marketing Specialist named Adit Bhutani, and the blog post features this disclaimer at the bottom: “His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions.” Rightttttt.
The other issue with the card is that like any GPU released in the past two years or so, nobody actually believes it will sell for its $199 MSRP due to the GPU shortage. This means gamers who are interested in the card will likely end up paying $300+ for a 1080p GPU that runs AAA titles at medium settings, which just seems wrong. Though AMD’s 4GB RAM allotment might dissuade miners from scooping up all the available cards, looking at Newegg this morning there’s not a single card in stock, and some of them such as the the Asus TUF model are being offered for an insane $359 sticker price, but most of them are actually listed at $199, with a few hovering in the $269 region.
Though text-based review verdicts are mostly mixed, summarizing the situation as “it’s not that bad if you can find it for MSRP, which you probably can’t,” YouTubers seem to have their knives out for the newest member of the Radeon family. Hardware Unboxed labels its review, “Worst GPU,” calling the card the “Corner Cutting Edition,” while Gamers Nexus describes it as “Worse than 2016’s GPUs.” Hardware Canucks summarized the situation succinctly by simply asking, “WTF AMD!?”
Pokémon Legends: Arceus For Switch Has Now Been Datamined – Nintendo Life
Not only is footage all over websites like Twitter, Reddit, and ResetEra, but it seems the game has now also been datamined.
There are a lot of images and videos already doing the rounds online – revealing Pokémon models, the Pokédex roster, the game’s full story, soundtrack and more, and it’s rather easy to find. Pokémon fans have once again taken to social media sites to warn each other about possible spoilers floating about. Here are a few examples:
@piplup31 – “I just wanted to let anyone who sees this who’s planning on playing Pokémon Legends Arceus know that the game has been datamined and a lot of info is getting leaked, including all of the new forms! If you want to avoid spoilers until the game comes out be careful!”
Dataminers have also uncovered other details about what’s going on behind the scenes of the new game and extra information such as the file size. Here’s some information, courtesy of dataminer OatmealDome:
If you are excited about the new Pokémon game and don’t want any spoilers, you might want to stay off social media sites. And if we hear any other developments, we’ll let you know.
Samsung's Galaxy S22 Could Get a Graphics Boost From a New AMD-Fueled Chip – Gizmodo
Samsung has unveiled the Exynos 2200, its first smartphone processor with AMD graphics. More specifically, the chip uses AMD’s RDNA 2 architecture which enables variable-rate shading and hardware-accelerated ray tracing, a technique used to make lighting effects in virtual environments appear more realistic.
While it hasn’t been confirmed, we assume the SoC will be featured in Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy S22 set to be revealed at the Unpacked event (which is rumored for Feb. 8). However, Samsung typically reserves its in-house Exynos chips for international markets and turns to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips for stateside models. Based on the latest rumors, US Galaxy S22 versions will likely run on the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1.
The Exynos 2200 uses what AMD calls an “Xclipse” GPU and is based on Samsung’s 4-nanometer processing node. We’ve known since 2019 that the two chipmaking juggernauts would work together, and just last year, AMD confirmed that Samsung’s “next flagship mobile SoC” would use RDNA 2, the platform of AMD’s latest mobile and desktop GPUs.
The term “flagship” here is noteworthy in that it suggests the processor will indeed make its way to Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy S series phones when they presumably arrive next month. What neither company has been willing to share just yet are performance numbers, though Samsung will likely highlight those during the Galaxy reveal. So far, the company is only claiming that the chip will enable the “ultimate mobile phone gaming experience.”
“AMD RDNA 2 graphics architecture extends power-efficient, advanced graphics solutions to PCs, laptops, consoles, automobiles and now to mobile phones. Samsung’s Xclipse GPU is the first result of multiple planned generations of AMD RDNA graphics in Exynos SoCs,” said David Wang, the senior vice president of Radeon Technologies Group at AMD.
Shifting to the CPU, the Exynos 2200 will use Arm’s latest Armv9 CPU cores in a tri-cluster configuration consisting of a single Arm Cortex-X2 “flagship core,” three balanced Cortex-A710 big cores, and four power-efficient Cortex-A510 little cores.
According to Samsung, the chip has more advanced AI, an upgraded neural processing unit (NPU) with twice the performance as its predecessor, and an image signal processor with support for up to 200-megapixels, 4K HDR (or 8K video recording), and the ability to connect to seven individual image sensors and drive four concurrently.
We’re curious to see what benefits the new graphics bring and whether those performance gains and features will be supported by mobile games. Interestingly, Samsung says the Xclipse GPU is “positioned between the console and the mobile graphic processor” so it sounds like the company wants to blur the lines by delivering at-home gaming performance on mobile hardware.
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