Jeff Benjamin

My videos and articles have been viewed hundreds of millions of times by people seeking to learn more about today’s software and devices. I have high interests in Apple, Tesla, and technology within the surrounding orbit. You can follow me on Twitter @JeffBenjam. If you'd like to support my efforts, please consider subscribing to my YouTube channel. Thank you for visiting.

iOS 16.2 beta 3 + Emergency SOS via Satellite hands-on

iOS Rapid Security Response debut

The Rapid Security Response feature that Apple announced at WWDC 2022 is now undergoing beta testing. Users who are running iOS 16.2 beta 3 received a secondary security update named iOS Security Response 16.2 (a). This update includes no real security enhancements, as 9to5mac confirms that the test is merely that, a test. However, it does give us the first look at how Apple’s security updates will work. In most cases, Security Responses will be small updates that are aimed at fixing crucial security holes in iOS software without forcing the user to download a full iOS update.

Video walkthrough

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Installing a Security Response

After visiting Settings → General → Software Update, users are greeted with an invitation to Download and Install iOS Security Response 16.2 (a). The update looks similar to a normal OTA update, except for its size (this test came in at 98 MB).

Once the update is initiated, you’ll see the following responses from Apple’s update server:

Security Response Requested → Preparing Security Response → Downloaded.

Once downloaded, tap the Install Now button followed by your device’s passcode to initiate the update. Users will see a brief “Verifying Security Response” prompt before the device reboots. While the download and prep took a few minutes, the iOS Security Response 16.2 (a) update completed in just about 30 seconds after my iPhone rebooted. This is significantly faster than a typical iOS update, and will be a great feature for keeping detrimental bugs at bay without necessitating a full iOS update.

Users can also toggle automatic Security Response updates by going to Settings → General → Software Update → Automatic Updates, and using the Security Responses & System Files switch. This option is enabled by default, and I recommend keeping it enabled.

Verifying Security Response installation

Settings → General → About → iOS Version, and you should see the Security Response release notes, which are separate from the main iOS update release notes, if it was installed successfully.

Uninstalling a Security Response

To uninstall a Security Response, visit Settings → General → About → iOS Version, and tap the Remove Security Response button underneath its release notes. Tap Remove again on the pop-up that appears to confirm, and your iPhone will automatically reboot after a few seconds. Once rebooted, visit Settings → General → About → iOS Version to ensure that the Security Response is no longer displayed.

Updated Always On Display options for iPhone 14 Pro

iOS 16.2 beta 3 affords iPhone 14 Pro users more fine-grained control over the Always On Display. IN previous versions of iOS you could only disable the Always On Display, but in beta 3 you can disable Lock screen Wallpaper, Notifications, or both, yet still keep the Always On Display active for widgets and the date/time.

This is a step in the right direction, as even after a couple of months, I still haven’t gotten used to the Always On Display, and usually end up disabling it outright. I could also see hiding wallpaper providing a measure of battery life savings. Apple, please keep the customization options coming.

New ‘Battery Level’ Shortcuts variables

iOS 16.2 beta 3 includes a couple of new variables for the Battery Level action in Shortcuts. Not only can users prompt for battery level like before, but now they can check to see if the device is charging, or if it is connected to a charger.

Apple launches Emergency SOS via Satellite

Last Tuesday, Apple pushed a server-side update that made the new Emergency SOS via Satellite feature live for all iPhone 14 owners running iOS 16.1 or higher. This feature makes it so that you can communicate with emergency services via text even when you don’t have cellular connectivity.

All in all, I’m extremely impressed with Apple’s Emergency SOS via Satellite functionality.

There is also a new feature found in the Me tab of the Find My App that allows you to send your location to a friend using the Satellite feature. This, too, requires that your phone be without cellular signal.

On Tuesday, I traveled 25 minutes outside the city to go to a place with dense foliage, a place where I know that cellular access doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, when I arrived at the location, the forest area was closed due to deer hunting season. Not wanting to get hit by stray buckshot, I thought it would be wise to heed the warning.

Although there is a demo, I was really looking forward to trying out some of the Emergency SOS via Satellite features in a real no-coverage situation. Fortunately, there is a workaround that can be used to simulate a scenario with no cellular coverage, and I cover it in my video walkthrough.

The Emergency SOS via Satellite demo

All in all, I’m extremely impressed with Apple’s Emergency SOS via Satellite functionality. It’s the type of thing that provides a little extra peace of mind when venturing off the grid for a hike. It’s clear that Apple worked hard to make satellite connectivity not only possible, but practical. For example, the iPhone 14 series has all of the need hardware to establish a connection with a satellite 800 miles in the sky, moving at thousands of miles an hour. In fact, you don’t even have to hold you iPhone in any awkward ways or perform any other song or dance to make it work.

Send Location via Satellite live example

I was able to send my location to a friend while completely devoid of cellular or Wi-Fi signal while sitting at my office desk indoors. This was not a test like the SOS demo, but the real deal. If that doesn’t speak to how impressive this feature is, I don’t know what will.

Above, you can see the result on a “friends” phone that follows me via the Find My app. Here, you can see my location was sent to the friend via satellite. These locations can be sent every 15 minutes.

Emergency SOS via Satellite is available for free for two years after iPhone 14 activation. It’s the type of feature that most people will forget about until they absolutely need it, but like Apple Watch, it’s only a matter of time before it makes a real difference in someone’s life.

iOS 16.2 beta 2

Coming via a December update once iOS 16.2 goes public is Custom Accessibility Mode. This new feature, according to 9to5Mac, will provide a more streamlined iOS and iPadOS experience for users who may benefit from a simpler interface. Custom Accessibility Mode will therefore be a Springboard replacement, which is the app icon Home Screen interface that iPhone users have used since the original iPhoneOS 1.0 launch. Upon launch, users will be able to enable Custom Accessibility Mode via SettingsAccessibility.

The Custom Accessibility Mode splash screen, which 9to5Mac unsurprisingly was able to unearth, features three main points:

  • Streamline Home Screen and apps
  • Large text and controls
  • Customizable to accommodate different needs

In a nutshell, it looks like Custom Accessibility Mode will be a simplified version of the iOS interface for users who might benefit from such an experience. Similar to how services like GrandPad make using an Android tablet dead-simple for older users, Custom Accessibility Mode aims to do that, but on iOS. Head over to 9to5Mac to see more pictures of it in action.

Video walkthrough

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5G support for India

iOS 16.2 finally enables 5G support for iPhone users in India. Support will officially launch once iOS 16.2 goes public next month, but beta users in India have confirmed that 5G support is now active while using the 16.2 beta.

Freeform settings panel

The Freeform app that Apple debuted back at WWDC was made available in the initial iOS 16.2 beta. In the second beta, Apple added a settings panel for Freeform that includes alignment guide preferences, as well as software acknowledgements.

‘Everyone’ AirDrop receiving setting for just 10 minutes in China

This is a China-only feature that disables the ability to set AirDrop receiving to Everyone indefinitely. One reason for this change may be to stave off unwanted spam via unsolicited AirDrop sessions.

Music app

The Music app gets a couple of new changes in iOS 16.2 beta 2:

  • Animated album artwork features transparent audio details and Play/Shuffle buttons.
  • Transport controls now feature same button animations as Lock Screen Live Activity.

Live Activities

  • More status bar icons appear next to Dynamic Island
  • Live Activities – More Frequent Updates

Lock Screen

  • Health – Medications Lock Screen widgets
  • Long-press needed to disable Focus on Lock Screen
  • Show Photo in Library option when using photo wallpaper
  • Sleep Mode alarm doesn’t appear on top of Lock Screen album art

LumaFusion for Android beta now available

As promised earlier this year, LumaFusion, by far the most feature-filled NLE option for iPad and iPhone video editors, is now available for Android and ChromeOS users. Starting today, LumaFusion is available from the Google Play Store or Galaxy Store as an early access beta for just $19.99, a 30% discount off the full $29.99 price. Once the final version ships later this year, an update will be available to early access users at no additional charge.

I’ve been a big proponent of LumaTouch’s work for a long time, and the praise has been well-deserved. Not only did LumaFusion start off strong out of the gate, but it’s continued to grow and expand and a steady clip. Terri Morgan and her team at LumaTouch have done what basically no one else has been able to do — create a competent NLE that’s capable of producing high-quality videos on a touch-first platform like the iPad and iPhone. Now the lessons the team has learned over the past few years as an iOS-only app will expand to an even larger user base.

On a whole, iOS and iPadOS are leaps and bounds ahead of the various Android storefronts when it comes to high quality apps, but attracting a desktop-class app like LumaFusion is a definite win for Android users. If users support this app, like they should, it might convince other popular developers to make high quality Android software as well.

Here’s a video preview of LumaFusion running on a ChromeBook to give you an idea of what to expect:

In addition, here are some of the features that Android and ChromeOS users can expect from this initial early access version of LumaFusion:


  • Layer up to 6 video and 6 audio tracks (number of layers determined by your device type)
  • Powerful magnetic timeline with insert/overwrite and link/unlink clips
  • Display track headers for locking, hiding, and muting tracks
  • Use preset effects or create your own
  • Add markers with notes
  • Cut, copy, paste in your timeline and between projects using multiselect


  • Layer effects; green screen, luma and chroma keys, blurs, distort, styles and color
  • Use powerful color correction tools
  • Select from included color LUTs like FiLMiC deLog or import your own .cube or .3dl
  • Animate with unlimited keyframes
  • Save and share effect presets

Speed FX

  • Create slow motion/fast motion forward and reverse
  • Create smooth slow motion using 120 and 240fps files
  • Edit with time-lapse video


  • Keyframe audio levels, panning and EQ for perfect mixes
  • Fill-from-left / right for dual-mono audio captures
  • Duck music during dialog with Auto-ducking


  • Create multilayer titles with shapes and images
  • Adjust font, color, face, border and shadow
  • Save and share title presets

Project Manager

  • Create projects with a variety of aspect ratios (including landscape, portrait, square, widescreen film)
  • Work in frame rates from 18fps to 240fps
  • Duplicate, add notes, and use color-tag projects

Media Library

  • Use media directly from your device
  • Link to media on USB-C drives – only download what you use on the timeline.
  • Import media: cloud storage (Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive)
  • Storyblocks Library (In App Purchase) includes thousands of royalty-free music, sound fx, videos, and backgrounds
  • View detailed metadata for your media
  • Rename, add notes, and color-tag
  • Sort and search to quickly find what you need

Share Features

  • Easily share movies with control over resolution, quality, and framerate
  • Create a snapshot of any frame
  • Archive projects for backup or edit on another device

Available Purchases

  • Subscribe to Storyblocks for LumaFusion to access the full library of music and clips

To learn more, and to get links to direct downloads of the Android, ChromeOS, and Samsung versions of LumaFusion, visit

How to create a macOS Ventura bootable USB installer

In this post I’ll show you step by step how to create a macOS Ventura bootable USB installer. In today’s versions of macOS, it’s not as important to have a USB installer disk on hand like it used to be several years back, but portable installers can still come in handy. As someone who generally maintains multiple Macs, I find USB installers especially handy for installing macOS in environments with slow internet speeds.

Things you’ll need:

Video tutorial: macOS Ventura boot disk

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Guide: how to create a macOS Ventura USB installer

Note: The contents of the USB drive will be completely erased. Please verify that the drive’s contents are backed up before proceeding.

Step 1: Connect your USB drive to your Mac.

Step 2: Download macOS Ventura from the Mac App Store.

Step 3: Open Applications → Utilities → Terminal.

Step 4: In the Terminal window type: sudo followed by a space.

Step 5: Open Finder → Applications, right click on Install macOS Ventura, and select Show Package Contents.

Step 6: Open Contents → Resources and drag createinstallmedia to the Terminal window. A space will automatically be placed at the end of the path location.

Step 7: In the same Terminal window type the following with a space inserted afterward:

-- volume 

Step 8: Open Finder and in the menu bar click Go → Go to Folder. Type /volumes and press Return on your keyboard.

Step 9: Drag the location of the USB drive to the Terminal window and press Return on your keyboard.

Step 10: You’ll now be asked to enter your Administrator password. Once you do, you’ll be asked to verify that you wish to erase the USB volume. Type ‘Y’ and press Return on your keyboard to continue.

Step 11: Createinstallmedia will now run. First it will erase the disk, then make the disk bootable, and finally, copy the needed contents to disk to complete the macOS Ventura USB installer. The process will take about 5-10 minutes.

Step 12: Once the process is completed, Terminal will report that install media is now available at “Volumes/Install macOS Ventura”. You can now close Terminal, open Finder, and eject the Install macOS Ventura USB drive.

Creating a bootable macOS Ventura USB installer via Terminal

Booting from the macOS Ventura USB installer

Note: These following steps pertain to Macs with Apple Silicon. If you’re using an Intel Mac, hold Option (⌥) instead of the power button in step 3.

Step 1: Power down your Mac

Step 2: Connect the macOS Ventura USB installer.

Step 3: Press and hold the power button on your Mac and continue holding. You should see the Apple logo and eventually a message that says: continue holding for startup options.

Step 4: After a few seconds, you will see a message that says Loading startup options, after which you can remove your finger from the power button.

Step 5: The startup selector will appear, and Install macOS Ventura should appear as one of the options. Select Install macOS Ventura and click Continue.

Step 6: In most cases the macOS Recovery interface with your users. Click your user, and you’ll be requested to enter your administrator password. Once the password is entered, click Continue.

Step 7: You’ll now have the option to set up the installation of macOS Ventura using your desired method.

The end result: macOS Ventura installer


As I stated at the outset, not everyone will find a macOS Ventura bootable USB installer useful in 2022, but it’s nice to have on hand when needed. I find that it comes in handy when needing to upgrade a machine to Ventura that’s in an area with slow network connectivity. For that reason, I’ll always keep one close by.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments with your thoughts.

Serif launches Affinity Photo, Designer, and Publisher V2 alongside new Universal License ownership tier 

Today Serif, the company behind the Affinity creative suite of apps, is announcing Version 2 of Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer, and Affinity Publisher. In addition, Affinity Publisher 2 is now available on iPad after being a desktop exclusive. Serif is also announcing a new Universal License ownership tier, that gives users access to all Affinity apps across all platforms for one low price.

The Affinity Universal License will normally be available for $169.99, but Serif is offering a special 40% launch discount, affording users with access to the entire V2 suite for just $99.99. This announcement also silences fears that Affinity apps would adopt a subscription model.

Ashley Hewson, Managing Director of Serif, notes:

“The ability to buy for a one-off payment is something that makes Affinity the only viable option for many of the brilliant and inspiring creative people around the world, who would otherwise not have access to the highest-quality tools. There has been a lot of speculation about us moving to subscription recently, so I’m pleased to confirm that isn’t the case!

For our existing customers we have also been very conscious that, considering many of our sales are generated via app stores, it’s not possible to provide upgrade pricing. That’s the main reason we have decided to offer such a large launch discount – giving upgraders a chance to do so at an incredible price.”

Affinity Photo V2 for Mac

Speaking on a personal basis, Affinity Photo and Designer have been two absolute staple Mac and iPad applications that I’ve used daily for the last few years. I’ve been a huge fan of Affinity apps, not only because of the lack of an annoying and pricey monthly subscription fee, but primarily because the apps are extremely good at what they do with no compromises for my particular workflow. I think many Photoshop and Illustrator users will be surprised by just how capable the Affinity Suite is, and now with Affinity Publisher 2 coming to the iPad, InDesign users may have more of a reason to look at Serif’s apps as well.

Affinity Publisher 2 for iPad

Serif notes that users who don’t require the full package will still be able to buy each app — Affinity Photo 2, Affinity Designer 2 or Affinity Publisher 2 individually for Mac, PC or iPad with the same 40% launch discount. All products, including the V2 Universal License, are also available as a 30-day free trial.

All new Affinity releases are available now. To purchase individual V2 apps or the V2 Universal License, head over to Serif’s website, and take advantage of the introductory pricing.


As someone who dislikes Adobe’s subscription model, Affinity has been a huge win for me personally. Although a lot more people know about Affinity apps than they used to, I still think there remains a sizable swath of creative users who have no idea how awesome these apps are, and how viable they are as outright Adobe replacements in many circumstances.

But even if you’re educated about what Affinity’s creative apps bring to the table, I think it’s a good idea to purchase the V2 versions at this reasonable price, and support the team at Serif. Without our support, it would not be able to provide such reasonable prices devoid of monthly subscription fees. Let’s show everyone from our support that you don’t have to adopt a subscription model to be a successful software company in 2022.

Review: Level Lock Plus with Apple Home Key

The Level Lock Plus (branded Level Lock+) is a new smart lock from Level Home that’s exclusively available on Apple’s online and physical stores. Like previous Level products, the Level Lock Plus is all about minimalism and does its best to avoid drawing attention to itself.

The Level Lock Plus looks very similar to other products in the company’s portfolio, but this particular smart lock works with Apple’s home key feature that it first introduced in iOS 15. Home keys let you unlock your Level Lock via the NFC radio in your iPhone or Apple Watch. This feature, as I’ve stated many times before, is a downright game-changer for smart locks, and instantly makes the Level Lock Plus worthy of your consideration.

Video walkthrough

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Design and build quality

Level was founded by two ex-Apple employees — John Martin, a former VP of the company’s apps division, and Ken Goto, a former senior director of engineering. The Apple design DNA is readily apparent in all of Level’s products, including the Level Lock Plus, which is an improved version of the Level Lock – Touch Edition.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s not surprising that design is a priority for Level given the company’s DNA.

Not only is the Level Lock Plus physically small, but it’s also low-key and inconspicuous. Most people, even those steeped in tech, would be hard-pressed to recognize they were looking at a smart lock at first glance, and this is clearly by design.

There are no gaudy keypads (although it’s an option if you want one), no wild designs just for the sake of being different, and perhaps most notably, virtually no branding that the user can see. It’s a high quality device that looks like any normal lock, but it’s deceivingly smart at the same time. With the added convenience of Apple home keys support to unlock doors via NFC using iPhone or Apple Watch, it’s an even more compelling option.


Unlike some of the other smart locks that I’ve tried in the past, installing the Level Lock Plus could not be any easier. The packaging is laid out clearly, and the instructions are direct and straightforward.

As long as your current deadbolt has a smooth throw without needing to push or pull on the door to lock it, installation should be a breeze. If you find that you need to push or pull on your door to lock your existing lock, that could indicate that the door or the jam may have swelled or warped. An automatic smart lock will lack the needed torque to work past this issue. This applies to any smart lock, not just the Level Lock. Fix your door first!

Step 1: Disassemble your current lock, removing the lock housing, deadbolt, and strike plate.

Step 2: Install the Level Lock bolt into your door with words TOP facing upwards. Use a Philips screwdriver to secure the bolt to your door with the bolt plate screws. Slide on the motor and secure it with the connecting screw, and then fasten the strike plate to your door jam with the strike plate screws.

Step 3: On the entry side of the door, with the bolt retracted, thread the tailpiece of the key housing through the center hole in the motor along with each of the mounting stalks. Secure the opposite side of the housing with the included security bolts, then snap on the interior magnetic paddle.

Step 4: Unscrew the bolt cap and insert the CR2 battery with the flat end towards the cap. You should hear a welcome chime indicating that the connections and battery were installed properly.

Using the Level Lock Plus

Download the Level Home app on your iPhone, create an account, and connect your Level Lock. After doing so, you’ll be prompted to configure your Level Lock Plus using the Home app.

There are a lots of ways to unlock your door using the Level Lock Plus. These methods include the following:

  • Hardware keys
  • Level Home app via Bluetooth
  • NFC-enabled key cards
  • People invites
  • Guest passes
  • Touch to Unlock / Auto Unlock
  • Home app tiles, and automation
  • Siri
  • Apple home key
  • Keypad (sold separately)

In my video walkthrough above, I demonstrate many of the methods for unlocking and locking your door using Level Lock Plus. Of course the normal Siri/Home app control is present, alongside lock controls baked into the company’s own Level Home app. But I also appreciate having the ability to use regular old hardware keys. This is great for household members that aren’t able (or willing) to adapt to new technology. Watch the video to hear my commentary on each unlocking method.

Level recently noted to the Verge that a firmware update is in the works to add Matter support over Thread, and that’s big news. This will open up the Level Lock Plus to more ecosystems outside of the current HomeKit and Amazon Sidewalk platforms:

Today, the Lock Plus (like all of Level’s locks) only works with Apple Home and Ring, but Level confirmed to The Verge that all its locks will be updated to support Matter-over-Thread, which will throw open the gates to any compatible smart home platform, including Google Home and Samsung SmartThings.

The Verge

Level Lock Plus Apple Home Key support

Indeed, there are many ways to unlock the Level Lock Plus, but one of the primary reasons why you’d consider this lock over most other smart locks on the market is because it supports NFC-enabled Apple home key. With home key, all you need to do is tap to unlock your Level Lock Plus with your iPhone or Apple Watch.

Apple home key is the same technology that I raved about in my previous review of the Schlage Encode Plus. Schlage’s offering is the only other smart lock that I’ve been able to test with home key support, and I was blown away by how well it worked.

I have the similar feelings about using home keys with the Level Lock Plus. Just tap the lock with your iPhone or Apple Watch, and your door is unlocked in just a few seconds. Home key, by default, requires users to identify using Face ID or passcode, but enabling Express Mode lets home keys work faster without authenticating.

Another feature that Express Mode enables is the ability to use home key even when your iPhone needs to be charged. Thanks to a battery reserve that keeps the NFC radio available, you won’t be locked out of your house just because you forgot to charge you iPhone.

Security concerns

In a recent video, YouTuber LockPickingLawyer showed that the Level Lock Plus is extremely easy to pick using a rake tool or access via a simple bump key and hammer method. While this is somewhat concerning given the $329 price point of this lock, I have a slightly more measured take when it comes to lock security.

In my opinion, locks are primarily there to give homeowners peace of mind, and prevent someone from simply opening your door and walking inside. If someone really wants inside, they could simply break a window. That’s not to ignore the fact that Level did not include a more robust cylinder inside its flagship product, but, as shown by LockPickingLawyer, many consumer grade locks can be picked with the right tools. That being said, as Level notes in its FAQ, a user could have the Level Lock Plus rekeyed by a locksmith with a more robust cylinder if they wanted to, but it would have been nice if it shipped with a more fortified cylinder to begin with.


After using Apple home key, I’d never recommend a smart lock again that didn’t support the feature — it’s just that good. That leaves few options, as of now, for home key-enabled smart locks.

The aforementioned Schlage Encode Plus (if you can find it) is a great option, although its design is the polar opposite of what Level is doing. With Schlage’s offering, it includes a keypad along with a design that makes it clear that it’s a smart lock. There’s not anything wrong with that design route, but it’s anything but inconspicuous.

Home Key is simply a must-have for today’s smart locks, I wouldn’t buy one without it.

With the Level Lock Plus, you get the most important home key feature, but you also get a design that’s decidedly minimalistic and normal looking. It gives you the latest and greatest smart lock technology in Apple home key support, while looking like a regular lock that you might scoop up from a spur-of-the-moment weekend visit to Home Depot.

If Schlage’s Lock were readily available and I could pick between the two, I’d probably learn more towards Schlage’s offering due to its built-in keypad and stronger reputation as far as security is concerned. The Level Lock Plus is, in my opinion, the better looking lock, but after using both I’d say that the Schlage Encode Plus just edges out the Level Lock Plus.

At any rate, if you prefer the look and design of the Level Lock Plus, I don’t think you can go wrong with it. It’s a solid lock option right now for those in the Apple ecosystem, and it will get better as future firmware updates are released.

DesignExtremely low key and unassuming design, looks like a normal lock.Battery level – More granular battery level readings would be helpful.
Installation – Full install can be finished in just minutes.Sound – Could benefit from even quieter lock/unlock confirmation sound options.
Hardware key – Non-techies will appreciate having a simple hardware key.Security – Easily picked, according to some sources, but lock can be rekeyed for enhanced security.
Home Key – A game-changing technology that is a must-have for modern smart locks.
Thread/Matter support – Level will update the Lock Plus to support Matter over Thread.

Jeff’s score

Rating: 4 out of 5.


Transparency: Level Home sent me this lock for review, but I retain full editorial independence to report my findings and opinions.

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