The 7 best productivity improvements Apple introduced in 2022

From FreeForm to Focus to Lockdown Mode, these are some of the most useful productivity improvements Apple rolled out this year.

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Here are seven of the most useful productivity improvements Apple introduced in 2022. (It’s a partial list, so if you have a personal favorite to add, let me know here.)

Lockdown Mode

Some might see Lockdown Mode on Apple products as the most resonant update the company introduced this year. It’s an improvement no one wants to need, but it’s also one that everybody might sometimes require.

Designed ostensibly to protect the kind of high-value targets governments and gangsters shoot for, Lockdown Mode is one of a swath of security improvements introduced by Apple in 2022.

What this mode does is protect against a range of attack vectors at the cost of functionality. It’s still not perfect (the recently patched Achilles bug bypasses Gatekeeper security protection on Macs). But it's also not the only security improvement to make a difference if the data on your iPhone is business critical: Rapid Security Response, Hide My Email and incoming protections for iMessage and iCloud data all underscore the push for security this year.

Work better with others and FreeForm

Promised since WWDC 22 though only introduced inthis month, FreeForm is a fabulous tool for brainstorming and project planning made available to any group of enterprise professionals — so long as they're invested in Apple kit. This endless collaborative notepad lets you sketch, write, share images, websites, and more and integrates nicely with FaceTime; that allows face-to-face conversations about what you’re doing.

It works on iPads, Macs, and iPhones, and in conjunction with other great collaborative features introduced by Apple this year (particularly Continuity Camera and Desk View), should really help remote, hybrid and even in-person workgroups brainstorm, plan, and organize together. I’ve only scratched the surface of the potential, but I can’t help but imagine FreeForm also becoming a powerful 3D collaboration space in which people can work on product design in cool new ways.

Lock Screens and Focus

The reason people don’t use Focus is because it takes a little time to create the perfect Focus for any state. At the same time, those who do use it gain precisely what Apple promises: Focus. And the capacity to link different states with different Home screens on the iPhone is particularly interesting.

There are numerous ways to set up your device to meet the different needs you face when carving out time — work, personal, sleep — but one of the more powerful implementations for enterprise pros must be this: you can link your Focus states up to your MDM service provider so you can easily share your device between protected work mode and your completely personal private spaces. Not only that, but when you are in protected work mode, your iPhone flags this up for you. This may seem a minor thing, but it really isn’t and links deeply with the security, privacy and efficiency mission upon which Apple is set.

Find out more about Lock Screens with Focus and changes in Notifications.

Messages and emails

Let’s hear it for the new Reminder function in Mail. This helps you fight back against constant email flow by asking your iPhone, iPad, or Mac to remind you later of an urgent incoming email you can’t handle immediately. This is incredibly useful to anyone who has an inbox filling faster than they have time to address it.

Apple also introduced the capacity to un-send emails and Messages, but this is a little limited in that the window to do so is very short and the way it works isn’t always terribly consistent. However, the reminders’ function (and the capacity to schedule emails) is worth its weight in gold, and when used with Apple’s Reminders and Calendar’s app, means your Apple device has quietly developed new tools to help busy professionals stay on top of "stuff."

Live Text translation

It’s a big deal that you can point your iPhone at a signpost in a language foreign and receive a translation of what that sign means.  It matters that you can read public announcements, guides to visitor attractions, and more in this way. That’s even before you begin to consider the huge value direct Siri translation of words captured by your iPhone camera offers people who need that kind of accessibility.

While we accept that most business users have cut down on travel (unless they happen to be a billionaire CEO with a private jet and a meeting with allies at a global football championship), this feature is still valuable to those who do travel. Live Text was always useful, but improving it to support the translation of text in images and within the Translate app puts a very powerful tool in everybody’s pocket.

Just open translate, tap Camera, point your iPhone at the sign and you can get translations overlaid on text in the viewfinder. Useful.

Quick Note on iPhones, iPads, and Macs

Apple continues to quietly iterate within its Notes app. With QuickNotes, Apple has turned Notes into a powerful tool that works and updates across its ecosystem. The idea is that you can swiftly create a new Note without leaving the application you are currently working in and that note will be available across all your other Apple gadgets. This lets you research, learn, and think wherever you are, from within any application or on any device.

You launch a QuickNote using swipe gestures on iPad and iPhone, or just hold Fn and then press Q to open one up on your Mac. Like any note, these can contain URLs, documents, PDFs, images, as well as written (including use of Apple Pencil on iPad) notes — and can be shared with others as another collaboration tool. With Quick Note and accompanying improvements in filing and storage within the Notes app, Apple continues to improve collaboration across its ecosystem.

At last, a quick hang-up

You’ve always been able to initiate a call/send a message/email with anyone you happen to have in your Contacts book. That’s great, but one thing you couldn’t do with Siri was hang up the call, which was a little counter intuitive. Fifteen years since the iPhone launched, you can now ask Siri to hang up the phone. Just say “Hey Siri, hang up” (participants on the call will hear you). You enable this feature in Settings>Voice Control call hang-up.

Apple has introduced numerous improvements to its platforms across the last 12 months. For example, the capacity to set up custom iCloud email domains is a boon to small business users, while the many MDM improvements (hello, Declarative Device Management) will make a big difference to enterprises managing large fleets of Apple hardware. What else would you have included in this small collection?

Please let me know via social media below.

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Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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