It’s Update Season

It’s autumn, and for the past few years, that’s meant the time of year where your phone and computer change a little. This year was no exception, with big updates for Windows, all of Apple’s operating systems, and Android.

Microsoft was a bit ahead of the pack this year, releasing Windows 10 in July, undoing what many considered to be mistakes in Windows 8 and focusing more on the keyboard-and-mouse experience than touch. The update also includes a more traditional Start menu and includes Microsoft’s new Web browser called Microsoft Edge. If you haven’t updated already, the update is available for free through next July as long as you’re on a valid version of Windows. If you don’t update by then, you’ll have to pay the upgrade price of $119 if you still want it. An update to Windows phones to match the desktop release will be available this fall for most Lumia devices.

Apple released new versions of all three of its three operating systems in September. iOS 9 came out on September 16 with minor design tweaks, a new News app, a rebuilt Notes app, improvements to Apple Maps, and improvements to Siri and search. Apple also claims that devices will run faster on iOS 9 and may receive up to an hour of extra battery life. All devices that run iOS 8 can update to iOS 9 for free, so grab it now if you haven’t already.

Next came updates to Apple’s watchOS, the operating system powering the Apple Watch, with watchOS 2 on September 21. The update includes a couple new watch faces and improvements to many others, including Time Travel mode, which lets you use the Digital Crown to show the watch face at a past or future time. Apps will also see major improvements because apps can now run natively on the Watch rather than having to pull everything off of the paired iPhone. watchOS 2 is available as a free update.

On Wednesday, Apple released OS X El Capitan for Macs. Many of its updates match those on iOS: a redesigned Notes app, Apple Maps improvements, design tweaks, minor enhancements, and performance improvements. In fact, the most telling sign you’re running OS X El Capitan is to check for the new system font, which also came to iOS. Apple introduced a variant of the San Francisco font originally used on the Apple Watch to be used on iOS and OS X. OS X El Capitan is available as a free update in the Mac App Store.

Finally, Android 6.0 “Marshmallow” is slated to arrive this fall. Like iOS, the focus was more on enhancements than new features. However, users will now be able to choose which permissions to grant to an app, a feature called “Doze” which promises greatly improved battery life when you’re not using the device, and support for fingerprint recognition. Android Marshmallow will become available for free this fall for some devices, but it’s up to your manufacturer and carrier when (if ever) the update will arrive for your Android phone.

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