Alex’s Tech Tips

Alex ZR

It’s update time again, sorry, not sorry!

If there’s a hamster wheel we’re all stuck on in the digital age, it’s the age of updates. 

Updates are relentless. They’re unceasing. They’re annoying. They’re supposed to be automatic, but usually don’t happen immediately, often taking at least a week or two – if not weeks longer – to actually download and install on our devices. 

Often, if the updates have indeed downloaded, they await our approval before installing. Or, like the Chrome browser, they need to be shut down and then started up again to ensure the update is actually installed. 

update time

Updates can even be dangerous, when the company sending out the update missed something, and the update then causes data loss or other problems. Cough, Microsoft, Cough. 

The thing is, though – updates are important. 

Sure, updates often deliver new features and improvements. They deliver things that were promised previously, but weren’t yet ready for prime time. Sometimes those feature improvements arrive as betas, such as the “Universal Control” that lets you use the Mac’s or iPad’s keyboard and mouse/trackpad control other iPads and Macs connected to the same Wi-Fi network, on the same Apple ID account. 

In iOS and iPadOS 15.4, this feature was released as a beta. Now that iOS and iPadOS 15.5 is available, this feature has shed its beta tag, so it did take its time to arrive, and was initially promised as a feature for iOS and iPadOS 15.0 at last year’s Apple WorldWide Developer Conference (WWDC). 

This year’s WWDC is on from June 6 to June 10, 2022, in its US timezone. For Australians, this means the famed opening keynote kicks off at 3am AEST on June 7, 2022, although naturally, the full keynote will be available to watch via YouTube, and on Apple’s site, thereafter.

WWDC is where we see Apple’s plans for its next-generation of operating system updates – iOS, iPadOS, tvOS and HomePodOS 16, macOS 13, watchOS 9 and others.

Developer versions of the operating systems will be available from next week onwards, although it will likely be at least a month before the first public betas emerge. 

Betas are definitely not updates the vast majority of users need, and if you do decide to install either the developer or the public beta, you’re always advised to install the beta onto a secondary, non-production device.

Installing betas onto your daily drivers, onto the computers, tablets and smartphones you rely upon every day to get stuff done, is not for the faint-hearted, and it is definitely NOT recommended. 

So that is one instance of an update you don’t need to install, and such updates are not offered to everyday users, unless those users themselves choose to participate in beta programs. 

And, given the history of Microsoft Windows updates that had adverse effects, it reminds us once again of the utter importance of having physical and cloud-based backups of our computers and data. 

If something goes wrong, it’s important to have a backup of it all, so the restoration of data and a working computer is as quick and painless as possible. 

Microsoft does seem to be taking its updates much more seriously these days, but that’s no excuse not to have a backup. 

So, unless you have updated recently, chances are very high that your iPhone, Android, Windows PC, Mac, smart TV, Wi-Fi router, Amazon Alexa, Google Nest, connected coffee-maker and other connected and smart home devices have an update waiting to be installed. 

In an era where zero-day vulnerabilities can let hackers run any code they like on your devices, for which there are no fixes until a patch is issued are increasingly common, and are being actively exploited in the wild – well, it’s crucially important to check for updates on your devices and to install them. 

Make sure to physically turn off your computer at least once per week so that the operating system and all the apps are shut down and restarted, rather than your computer always being kept in a sleep state. 

Updates can be boring, slow to download, tedious to watch installing, they can even be dangerous – but updates are important, and if your digital life and devices are backed up, any mishaps – which are admittedly rare these days – can be recovered from. 

So, please update. If you haven’t checked for updates in the last few weeks, those updates are there waiting, and they fix actively exploited vulnerabilities. 

The same goes for Zoom – there are very often Zoom updates waiting for you, and with the latest version of Zoom patching a serious bug that let others hack you just by sending a message with no user interaction required, checking for and installing updates has never been more important, or urgent. 

So, please take this moment to check your devices for updates now!

Alex Zaharov-Reutt
ASCCA Director – Promotions and Sponsorship