Apple has released iOS 16.3.1, which includes “optimizations” for the iPhone 14 and 14 Pro’s Crash Detection feature that’s been criticized by some search and rescue personnel for setting off false alarms during winter activities like skiing and snowboarding. The update also includes fixes for iCloud settings and Siri requests for Find My, and Apple has released new software for tvOS, HomePods, and the Mac as well.
The Crash Detection feature on new iPhones and Apple Watches is meant to alert emergency services if you’re unresponsive after a “severe car crash” and is on by default. But as people have been hitting the slopes, some officials have said that the feature’s resulted in several false reports that tie up first responders’ time and resources. In January, an unnamed Apple spokesperson told the New York Post that the company was getting feedback from 911 call centers but wouldn’t answer questions about whether the company planned to update the system.
It’s not the first time Apple’s optimized Crash Detection. After reports of it triggering false alerts when iPhone owners were riding rollercoasters, Apple released iOS 16.1.2 in November, which also included changes to the system. Apple didn’t explicitly say that the update was meant to solve false positives — nor has it said that the latest update is meant to address the issues with snow sports — though since it came out, there haven’t been too many stories of rollercoasters triggering crash alerts. (However, it’s worth noting that a fair number of theme parks close during the winter.)
While Siri issues are less serious than false emergency alerts, Apple is also trying to fix those as well. iOS 16.3.1’s release notes say it’s meant to fix an issue where Siri Find My requests weren’t working, and a 16.3.2 update for HomePods and Apple TVs is meant to address a problem where “asking Siri for smart home requests may fail.” However, one Verge staffer asked his HomePod to find his iPhone after updating both devices and still got a message saying he would have to use the app to find someone’s location, so the jury’s still out on whether everything is working as it should.
While you’re updating your phone, HomePods, and Apple TV, it’s probably worth updating your Mac as well. macOS Ventura 13.2.1 includes a few important security updates and patches a hole that Apple says may have actively been exploited.