The release candidate of Apple iOS 16.2 had just been released to developers, which means two things are about to happen. First, the public beta won’t be far behind and, second, the general release version is likely imminent. My best guess is it will be early next week, probably Tuesday, December 13, as Apple does like a Tuesday for software updates.

What’s most interesting about the latest beta is that it includes a feature that has been available in some places but will now be for everybody: an update to AirDrop.

AirDrop is one of the unsung heroes of Apple software. It used to be just on the Mac, and then it spread to iPhone and iPad. Lots of people still don’t know about it, but it provides for the instant and seamless delivery of photos, documents and videos, for instance, between Apple devices.

There are different AirDrop receive settings and you can check which your iPhone, for instance, is set to like this. Swipe down from the top right corner of the iPhone screen to show the Control Center. The top-left panel is all about connectivity, with icons for wifi, Bluetooth, Airplane mode and so on. Press and hold on this and the panel expands with AirDrop as one of the icons, under which you can see which setting is live: Everyone, Contacts Only or Receiving Off.

Press and hold on this icon and the drop-down panel lets you switch between settings.

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The thing is, if you’ve set AirDrop to Everyone, then anyone could send you a file. Only a few weeks ago, at the beginning of September, there was a case of a Southwest Airlines flight where a passenger sent nude photos by AirDrop. These photos were not asked for and were not welcomed. It was just before take-off and the pilot intervened, explaining that either that behavior stopped, pronto, or he’d be turning the plane around.

So, to sort this issue, Apple is introducing an update which means that you needn’t be subject to this kind of unexpected delivery. Many people leave their AirDrop setting on Everyone. With this new update, you can only leave Everyone active for a short time, ten minutes.

This means that you can turn it to Everyone, so if someone is sending you a file and they’re not in your contacts, they can. But it will automatically deactivate shortly after, reverting to Contacts Only, so you’re not vulnerable to intrusion.

This was first introduced in China, leading to some criticism that it was done at the behest of the Chinese government in order to stop protesters spread content. But Apple clearly had plans for deploying this change everywhere and it’ll be in the release of iOS 16.2.

I’ve never worried about leaving my AirDrop settings to Everyone and have never had anyone trying to send me unsolicited stuff. But as AirDrop becomes more widely known (finally!), this change does make some sense.

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