Apple today released iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4, which is the fourth major update to the iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 operating systems first released in September. iOS and iPadOS 15.4 are huge updates that bring quite a number of useful new features to iPhone and iPad.
Face ID with mask
With iOS 15.4, there is now an option to unlock your iPhone while wearing a mask without the need for additional hardware such as the Apple Watch. Apple warns that Full Face ID is the most secure option, but a Face ID mask is now available.
Face ID can be enabled with the mask after updating to iOS 15.4, and is designed to use the area around your eyes for authentication purposes. It works with glasses, but is not compatible with sunglasses, and you have to look at the iPhone to unlock it with a mask.
Face ID with a mask is limited to the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 models, so it’s not available on the iPhone 11. Unlike the iPhone Unlock feature that uses your Apple Watch to authenticate when you’re wearing a mask, Face ID with a mask option can be used to authenticate Apple Pay transactions and logins Third party applications.
Spring iOS updates often bring new emoji characters, and iOS 15.4 is no exception. The update introduces support for Emoji 14, adding 37 emojis and 75 skin tones for a total of 112 new characters.
New faces include a melting face, a salute face, a face with open eyes, a hand over a mouth, a peek-a-boo face, a face with a slashing mouth, and a dotted line face, while new emojis include a bite lip and bubbles.
There are several new hand emojis, such as heart hand, right hand, left hand, hand down, hand with forefinger and thumb, and forefinger pointing at the viewer, along with an update to the handshake emoji.
Live with eggs, empty nest, x-ray, crutch, pitch slide, wheel, ring float, hamsa, mirror ball, urn, identification card and low battery new items, while plants and animals will include coral and lotus. As for the fictional characters, we can expect a new dwarf emoji, eggs, beans and pouring liquid posing new food items.
Turn off notifications for personal automation in Shortcuts
For personal automation set up in the Shortcuts app, there’s a new “Notify On Launch” option that lets you toggle notifications for which shortcuts are activated on or off. With this option, you can choose not to be notified when a shortcut is activated, something that wasn’t possible in previous versions of iOS 15.
The notification on launch only appears when the Ask before launch setting is disabled.
Shortcuts also supports adding, removing or querying tags using reminders.
There is now an Apple Card widget in the Today view, which can be added to the Home screen. The Apple Card tool shows your current balance and daily spending in different categories.
iCloud Keychain Notes
iCloud Keychain users can now add notes to any password entry, making iCloud Keychain more in line with other password storage options like 1Password.
On iPhone and iPad, iCloud Keychain can be accessed in the Settings app under Passwords.
Hide Password Alerts in iCloud Keychain
Apple makes security recommendations for weak or compromised passwords stored in the iCloud Keychain, but in some situations, you might not be able to change these passwords.
If so, in iOS 15.4, you can ignore these alerts by tapping the “x” button next to the alert. The action will hide the security recommendation so that it does not appear in the main Passwords section of the Settings app.
If you need to view the alert again, it can be found under Hidden Security Recommendations in Password Settings.
120Hz animation in third-party apps on iPhone 13 Pro
After the iPhone 13 Pro models were introduced, users noticed that not all third-party apps display all animations at the full 120Hz ProMotion refresh rate. Apple said there is a Core Animation bug that will be fixed in a future update, and it looks like iOS 15.4 is that update..
With iOS 15.4, all in-app animations will be rendered at 120Hz for a smoother and smoother app experience.
Custom email domains
iOS 15.4 expands support for the custom email domain feature available for paid iCloud+ plans, adding an option to set up a custom domain with iCloud Mail directly on your iPhone.
If you go to Settings > Apple ID > iCloud, iCloud Mail is now a tapable option that includes a section for setting up a custom email domain.
In apps that support SharePlay, there is now an option to activate it directly from the share sheet.
Customize the TV app
In the TV section of the Settings app under Preferences, you can now choose the Fixed Frame or Poster Art options for the Up Next screen in the app. Fixed Frame shows fixed frames of what you’re watching, and Poster Art displays the main title images of shows or movies.
Log in to the website with the passkey
Apple says iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4 updates add a new passkey feature that allows users to sign in to passkey-compatible websites and apps on a Mac and iPad using iPhone with a saved passkey.
This means that on websites that allow authentication via Face ID or Touch ID, you can authenticate using your iPhone instead of having to enter a password.
By default, Emergency SOS now uses the Call with Hold feature to make an emergency call. To start an emergency call, press and hold the side button and the volume button until the countdown begins. After this point, your iPhone will call emergency services.
Previous press five times to start the calling feature is still available as well, but you’ll need to toggle in the Emergency SOS section of the Settings app.
Vaccination records in the health app
Verifiable Health Records now supports adding vaccination records in an EU digital certificate format to the Health and Wallet apps, so those in the EU can add their vaccine cards to the Wallet app for easy access.
Click to pay on iPhone
iOS 15.4 adds support for a “Tap to Pay on iPhone” feature designed to allow NFC-compatible iPhones to accept payments through Apple Pay, contactless credit and debit cards, and other digital wallets, without the need for additional hardware.
Tap to Pay on iPhone is enabled in iOS 15.4, but it requires third-party providers to add support. Stripe has announced that it will be the first payment platform to offer Tap to Pay on iPhone business customers, including Shopify users. Apple Stores in the US will also launch support for this feature later this year.
Tap to Pay works with iPhone XS or later, and will allow supported iOS apps to accept iPhone to iPhone payments. At checkout, the merchant can require the customer to keep the iPhone, Apple Watch, contactless credit or debit card, or any other digital wallet close to the merchant’s iPhone to complete the NFC payment. As with Apple Pay, the feature supports reward cards and refunds.
Safari . translation
The translation feature in Safari now supports Italian and Chinese (Traditional).
The Apple News app provides enhanced discovery of audio content in both the Today feed and the Audio tab.
When viewing a show in your library, you can filter episodes by playing them, not playing them, downloading them, or saving them. There is also an option to go to any show and filter for a particular season.
Offline Siri Updates
Apple says Siri is able to provide time and date information while offline on the iPhone XS, iPhone XR, iPhone 11 or later.
Siri’s new voice
iOS 15.4 adds a new “Siri” voice for US users, which can be selected from the Settings app by going to “Siri”, Search, and then selecting “Siri” Voice.
Apple in iOS 15.4 adds AirTag anti-stalking changes announced in February. When you set up AirTag or Find My Accessory, there is now a warning that the device is locked with an Apple ID and that using it to track someone without their consent is a crime.
“You can locate this item using the Find My network,” the setup screen reads. “Using this item to track people without their consent is a crime in many areas around the world. This item is designed to be detected by victims and to enable law enforcement to request owner identification information.”
With this warning, Apple wants to make it clear to those who may be using AirTags and Find My compatible devices from third-party companies as prosecution tools that this use case is illegal and has criminal ramifications.
Apple is also fixing a bug that was causing confusion about unwanted tracking. AirPods can cause an “unknown accessory alert” warning that some people interpret as a notification from an AirTag. AirTags cannot display “Unknown accessory detected” messages, which are caused by AirPods Pro, AirPods Max and AirPods 3rd generation, and in some cases, “Found Network Accessory”.
Want a cosmetic scan?
The code in iOS 15.4 indicates that Apple is working on a “Cosmetic Scan” feature that will be used when trading iPhone. Cosmetic scanning will likely be used to check the iPhone for damages such as scratches and dings to provide a more accurate estimate of the trade-in value.
According to Apple, the telephoto in Magnifier can now use the ultra-wide camera on the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max to make small objects stand out better.
There are also several bug fixes included in this update, as shown below.
- The keyboard may add a dot between typed numbers
- News widgets in Today View may not open articles when clicked
- Photos and videos may not sync to iCloud Photo Library
- Speak Screen Accessibility may terminate unexpectedly within the Books app
- Live Listen may not turn off when it’s turned off in Control Center
iPad updates only
iPadOS 15.4 and macOS Monterey 12.3 enable the long-awaited Universal Control feature, which is designed to let you use a single cursor and keyboard to control iPads and Macs signed into your iCloud account.
Universal Control is very easy to use and is enabled by default once you upgrade to iPadOS 15.4 and macOS Monterey 12.3. If you have a MacBook and iPad, for example, the MacBook’s trackpad and keyboard can also be used directly on the iPad’s screen.
There are new settings for Universal Control on the iPad and Mac, and on the iPad, the option to turn it on or off is listed under Handoff & AirPlay. Global Control is Mac/iPad only, not compatible with iPhone.
iPadOS Notes app corner gestures
In the Notes section of the Settings app on the iPad, there’s a new “corner gestures” section under Quick Notes. In this section, you can specify functions for left-corner scrolling and right-angle swiping.
Options include a quick note or a screenshot, and there’s also an option to stop corner swipes.
In iPadOS 15.4, there is a new keyboard brightness option that can be added to the Control Center to allow you to adjust the brightness of the keyboard connected to the backlight.
It works with Apple’s Magic Keyboard, but it needs to be added to the Control Center by going to Settings > Control Center and clicking the “+” button next to Keyboard Brightness.
Do you know the iOS 15.4 feature we left out or want to give feedback on this guide? Send us an email here.