Apple delivers new software updates to fix major security bug, bring ECG up north, and more
With iOS 13 undoubtedly right around the corner in its stable, polished, and hopefully bug-free form, Apple has yet to leave the previous version of its popular mobile operating system for dead, performing a little last-minute fine-tuning and housekeeping before the iPhone 11 family goes official.
Alongside iOS 12.4, a new software update for the world's best-selling smartwatch is also available over-the-air starting today, and together, the two are primarily aimed at fixing a scary vulnerability discovered not long ago.
The Walkie-Talkie app is functional again
Fearing a repeat of the Group FaceTime bug debacle from roughly six months back, when the company wasn't exactly receptive to user feedback, Apple quickly disabled a popular Watch app after unearthing a major security flaw. Fortunately, this particular vulnerability was never exploited out in the wild, so at least officially, no violation of privacy happened through the Walkie-Talkie functionality.
The iOS 12.4 and watchOS 5.3 changelogs both include specific references to a Walkie-Talkie fix among their "important" security updates, which is a nice reminder that so many Apple Watch features remain deeply connected or entirely dependent on iPhones. In fact, Apple confessed this bug could have theoretically allowed someone to "listen through another customer's iPhone without consent", which sounded eerily similar to the Group FaceTime issue earlier this year.
But you don't have to think about any of that anymore, as everything should go back to normal with the latest round of iOS and watchOS enhancements. The bug is quashed and Walkie-Talkie is up and running again.
iPhone migration and ECG for Canada
Judging from the order in which the new features and improvements are listed in the official changelog, Apple seems to consider something else as the iOS 12.4 headliner. Namely, an iPhone migration add-on allowing users to wirelessly transfer data and "migrate directly" from an old device to a new one during setup. Sounds like a basic but oh-so-convenient feature that will save you the hassle of restoring your data from iCloud or iTunes.
Meanwhile, folks up north will certainly agree the latest expansion of the life-saving ECG app is by far the most important change brought to the table by watchOS 5.3. Initially available exclusively in the US, ECG monitoring spread its wings to Europe a few months ago, finally going live in Canada, as well as Singapore today after clearing all the regional certification hurdles.
Irregular heart rhythm notifications are also available in Canada and Singapore now, further helping Apple Watch Series 4 owners stay healthy and safe. These things are no joking matter, and Apple is rumored to take them global in the near future.
Other small tweaks, but no Apple Card support...?
Apart from all these arguably major new features, enhancements, and security fixes, the latest iOS and watchOS updates bring some minor and generic stuff to the table too, like various Apple News improvements and other solutions for unspecified glitches. One highly anticipated feature that's completely unmentioned, however, is official Apple Card functionality.
If history is any indication, this is the last important update Apple will deliver to its existing iPhones ahead of the iOS 13 release in September. After all, iOS 11 received four point updates as well, the last of which saw daylight way more than a year ago. If you're wondering exactly what that means, it might actually be one of three things.
Apple Card support could come as part of iOS 13, an iOS 12.4.1 update focused solely on this feature, or it could already be here. After all, if it is, you don't really think Apple would give the impending release of its first-ever credit card away before confirming a rollout date, now, would you?