After iOS 15.3 was mainly bug fixes and security updates, iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4 is Apple’s biggest iOS 15 update so far, with a slew of new features and updates for your iPhone and iPad. Here’s everything that’s in the update and how to install it on your device.
iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4: New features
The only feature specific to iPadOS 15.4, you can finally try out Universal Control, which was supposed to release last fall but was delayed until spring 2022. The feature, which lets you drag and drop files between an iPad and Mac running macOS 12.3 as well as share keyboard and mouse wirelessly between them, can be found in the AirPlay & Handoff tab in the General Settings. There, you’ll see a new Cursor and Keyboard option. Learn all about Universal Control and how it’s different from Sidecar in our primer article.
Face ID with Mask
Better late than never, right? While iOS 14.5 let you unlock your iPhone with your Apple Watch when Face ID doesn’t work, that’s not a lot of use for those who don’t have a watch but are trying to reduce the spread of a deadly pandemic by wearing a mask in public spaces.
Inside the Face ID & Passcode settings in iOS 15.4, you’ll find a new toggle to Use Face ID with a Mask. When turned on, Face ID will “use the unique features around the eye area to authenticate” rather than full facial recognition, which includes unlocking, payments, and password/login authentication. There’s also a new “Add Glasses” setting so the system can properly identify your facial features. Apple warns that Face ID is more accurate with the settings turned off.
Apple has announced several AirTag changes that will arrive this year, the first of which arrives in iOS 15.4. Apple has added a new message during setup that states AirTag is “designed to be detected by victims and to enable law enforcement to request identifying information about the owner.” It also warns that using an AirTag to track people without their consent is a crime.
There are several dozen new emojis as part of the Unicode Consortium’s Emoji 14 release. They include melting face, saluting face, biting lip, jar, beans, x-ray, bubbles, and more.
New Siri Voice
iOS 15.4 also brings a new American Siri Voice 5 that can be applied to all interactions. The new voice isn’t explicitly male or female and was recorded by a member of the LBGTQ+ community, according to Apple. It’s another step in Apple’s push for diversity, which began in iOS 14.5 last April when the default female voice was removed and two black actors recorded voices.
DualSense adaptive triggers
This release enables developers to support the adaptive triggers function of the PlayStation 5 DualSense controller.
iCloud Keychain notes
You can add notes to a password entry in Keychain. Head to Settings > Passwords to see and edit your Keychain entries.
Safari password management
Staring with iOS 15.4 3, Safari will no longer silently save passwords for websites when it doesn’t have a login name. Instead, it will prompt you to enter your login, so it has a more complete password entry. The change was acknowledged by Apple developer Ricky Mondello on Twitter.
There’s a new Apple Card widget that can be added to your home screen or Today view. It shows your current balance and spending activity.
Vaccination records in the EU
The Health app now supports the EU Digital COVID Certificate format, so you can add your vaccine record to the Health and Wallet apps in supported regions.
Tap to Pay
As previously announced, Apple has added the framework for Tap to Pay in iOS 15.4. The new payment processing feature lets iPhones accept Apple Pay payments without needing a credit card terminal or extra hardware. This feature requires support from apps, and Apple has been working with Stripe to test it, so those who use Stripe should be among the first to get this feature.
The iPhone 13 Pro brought 120Hz ProMotion to the iPhone, but support in apps was somewhat limited thanks to a Core Animation bug that limited most third-party app animations to 60Hz. With iOS 15.4, that bug in Core Animation is fixed, and third-party apps that use the framework will automatically get up to 120Hz animations.
iOS 15.4 and iPad OS 15.4: How to install
iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4 is available for all iPhones and iPads running iOS 15. To install it on your device, head over to the Settings app, then General > Software Update and Download and Install.
iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4: Security updates
There is a lengthy list of security updates in iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4, several of which appear to be high-risk fixes to Kernel, Graphics Drivers, and Safari. Among the three dozen patches are several WebKit flaws that “may lead to code execution.”
iOS 15.4 release notes
Apple’s official release notes are as follows:
iOS 15.4 adds the ability to unlock with Face ID while wearing a mask on iPhone 12 and newer. This update also includes new emoji, a new voice option for Siri, and other features and bug fixes for your iPhone.
• Face ID while wearing a mask option on iPhone 12 and newer
• Apple Pay and password autofill in apps and Safari can be used with Face ID while wearing a mask
• New emoji including faces, hand gestures, and household objects are now available in emoji keyboard
• Handshake emoji allows you to choose separate skin tones for each hand
• SharePlay sessions can be initiated directly from supported apps
• Siri can provide time and date information while offline on iPhone XS, iPhone XR, iPhone 11 or newer
• Siri now includes an additional voice, expanding the diversity of options
• EU Digital COVID Certificate support in Health enables you to download and store verifiable versions of COVID-19 vaccination, lab results, and recovery records
• COVID-19 vaccination cards in Apple Wallet now support the EU Digital COVID Certificate format
This release also includes the following enhancements for your iPhone:
• Safari webpage translation adds support for Italian and Chinese (Traditional)
• Podcasts app adds episode filters for seasons, played, unplayed, saved, or downloaded episodes
• iCloud custom email domains can be managed from Settings
• News offers enhanced discovery of audio content in the Today feed and Audio tab
• Camera in keyboard can be used to add text to Notes and Reminders
• Shortcuts now supports adding, removing, or querying tags with Reminders
• Emergency SOS settings have changed to use Call with Hold for all users. Call with 5 Presses is still available as an option in Emergency SOS settings
• Close-up in Magnifier uses the ultra-wide camera on iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max to help you see small objects
• Saved passwords can now include your own notes in Settings
This release also includes bug fixes for your iPhone:
• Keyboard may insert period between typed numbers
• News widgets in Today View may not open articles when tapped
• Photos and videos may not sync to iCloud Photo Library
• Speak Screen Accessibility feature may quit unexpectedly within the Books app
• Live Listen may not turn off when switched off in Control Center