February 2024

iOS and Apple news

The ad for Vison Pro, titled `Get ready':

Vision Pro

Apple released the much anticipated Vision Pro. With a series of Tweets, Tim Cook showed his enthusiasm for the new era of Spatial Computing:

Apple announced all new 600 spatial apps are available for Vision Pro already, in addition to over 1 Million compatible apps.

Of course we have many unboxing videos! Here is a good one from Marques Brownlee:

Here is Marques Brownlee with a very informative video overview of what it is like to use the Vision Pro. It's a 35 minute video, it is chapterized, and it's well worth watching.

. . . and if you want, take a quick look at Marques' summary at the end, his `Preview review':

Joanna Stern of the WSJ also tested and reviewed the Vision Pro. She had it on for 24 hours. Read her review and watch her video:

Here is Unboxing and first impressions, by Cult of Mac.

Why you absolutely should do an Apple Vision Pro store demo, by Cult of Mac.

iOS 17.3

iOS 17.3 has been released.

Here is an overview of the new features, by Macrumors.

Don't forget one of the anticipated security features: Stolen Device Protection. You can enable it by going to Settings > Face ID & Passcode.

Remember that this new Stolen Device Protection option is also intended to address the iPhone theft schemes that we covered in our January 2024 iPUG meeting, with Joanna Stern's extensive report.

Also, recall JoAnna Stern's security advice, independent of the 17.3 new security feature:

1). Add a passcode to money apps, such as Venmo and Cash App, and make each passcode unique. 2). Delete any notes or photos that include personal information such as passwords or Social Security numbers. 3). Store that stuff in a secure note inside a third-party password manager, such as Dashlane or 1Password. 4). Create a stronger iPhone passcode, one that uses letters and numbers. 5). The most obvious is the thief's own advice: Watch your surroundings and don’t give your passcode out.

crash detection

Recent models of iPhones and Apple watches have crash detection. This continues to be a life-saving feature.

First responders Maury County, Tennessee credit Apple’s Crash Detection feature with alerting them to a severe crash on New Year’s Day. The driver’s iPhone got thrown out of the car during the crash, in the middel of a creek, but automatically contacted emergency services. State officials said that iPhone Crash Detection calls turn out to be false alarms “about 75% of the time.” However, the rescue teams said they’d “rather get false calls than miss a real emergency.” Watch:

In Yavapai county, AZ, officers were able to rescue a man who had crashed. Dispatch received the original alert via a 911 text from his Apple watch. They dispatched a rescue team that spent hours looking for him. They eventually found him wondering about 5 miles from his crashed car.

iPhone falling from a plane

Recently, the story of the Boeing airplane whose door blew open made the news and investigations are underway.

That same plane caused an iPhone to fall out: Here’s how an iPhone survived a 16,000-foot fall from a plane, reports the WaPo.

Here is the man who found the fallen iPhone:

Even People Magazine reported on this iPhone which amazed everyone by surviving such a fall.

Messages and spam

The number of spam messages or seemingly spam messages is increasing, as many cellphone users report, across all major providers: Verizon, AT&T, T-MObile. With iOS 17, Apple offers the option to `Report Junk' when the sender is not in your contact list.

Often, unsolicited text messages arrive from distribution lists, such as from political organizations asking for contributions or from businesses, or fundraising groups. Many of these offer an option to`opt out' but this requires replying to the text message. Doing so, the best case means you have to engage with the sender and requires more steps than using Apple's `Report Junk' option. The worst case is that you are confirming the mobile number belongs to an active user.

Here is an example that Olga reported she got recently and many other users have gotten.

iOS apps

Roger H. told us about Callsheet, an app that gives you movie/TV show info in a manner similar to iMDB but without all the annoyances (ads and distractions). The Verge gives an overview of Callsheet

Bob told us about Copilot, an AI app for iOS that runs on ChatGPT v4.0 and is free.

If you are looking for inspiration as you track your exercise and activity over days, weeks, months, or years, Peak is an app that gives you a lot of info: you can create a fitness dashboard with your progress. It offers aggregate stats for the current and past week, month, and year. It also offers trends: compare your progress this week, month, or quarter to the last four. And you can set goals. Peak offers a wide variety of widgets so you can see your progress on your iPhone even without opening the app. Peak is free with basic features, and has a subscription ($14.99 annually), with a 7-day trial, for the full version.

Spectre is a camera app for taking long exposures. (It is made by the team that created the powerful camera app Halide.) Spectre is free to use for 3 second exposures; you can upgrade to Spectre Pro for additional pro tools and up to 30 second exposures, all without a tripod. Spectre was Apple iPhone app of the year in 2019, showing some nice examples. Take a look at some additional examples and uses of long exposures, by 9to5Mac.

tips & tricks

Alexis shared a tip: sometimes her iPhone 11 Pro is acting up and turns on the flashlight without any movement or human intent. You can tell Siri `Nox!' to turn it off and `Lumos!' to turn the flashlight on. This works on any iPhone. :-)

Many iPhone models support dual SIM which is useful if you have a personal and a business line or if you are traveling and want to use a temporary/pre-paid eSIM. Here is how to use dual SIM:

gadgets & accessories

The now famous iPhone that fell from the plane and survived garnered some attention for its case as well. Take a look at this discussion on Twitter, with people guessing on the case or offering their own recommendations for indestructible cases:

Some of the replies offered above mention Spigen cases for iPhone.

Some of the replies offered above mention Otterbox Defender series for iPhone.

... and the Tech21 iPhone cases.

Spigen also has a case for the new Vision Pro.


Apple Card continues to offer superb security against fraud. Also, their quick notifications, as well as the excellent user experience when you have to report fraudulent use, all add up to an excellent choice for a credit card, especially when traveling. Bernie shared a recent experience while traveling.


February is Black History Month. Apple has released a new Black Unity band for the watch. See Apple's press release on the Black Unity Collection.

Also, with the latest release of watchOS, Apple released Unity Bloom apple watchface and also Unity Bloom wallpapers for iPhone and iPad. The watchface and wallpapers have colorful flowers.

general apps & services

Tomito is a macOS app and an excellent `pomodoro' style timer to help you focus on a task or project. There are many such timers but this is one of the best with the highest ratings. So far, it does not have an iOS version, but many users are requesting one.


Google has created VideoPoet. It is like ChatGPT but for Text-to-Video, Image-to-Video, Video editing, and more. It is not yet released to the public but once it is, you can access it from VideoPoet. Meanwhile, take a look at the examples.

Medicine is already benefitting from AI and the potential is huge. Here is an example from Dr Eric Topol, referencing the paper Deep Learning Algorithm for Detecting Obstructive Coronary Artery Disease Using Fundus Photographs:

We can imagine somem Apple technology being designed to make use of such AI applications with mobile devices (Vision Pro?)

next iPUG

Our next iPUG meeting will be on Tuesday, March 5, at 7 pm.