Features of iOS 15.4
Apple has released iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4, the fourth major update to its iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 operating systems, first released in September. iOS and iPadOS 15.4 are huge updates that bring many useful new features to the iPhone and iPad.
Face ID with mask
With iOS 15.4, it's now possible to unlock your iPhone with a mask without additional hardware, such as the Apple Watch. Apple warns that full face ID is a safer option, but mask Face ID is now available
Face ID with mask can be enabled after the update to iOS 15.4, and it's designed to use the eye area for authentication purposes. It works with glasses, but is not compatible with sunglasses, and you must look at your iPhone to unlock it with a mask.
Face ID with 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, which uses the Apple Watch to authenticate when you wear a mask, Face ID has a mask option and can be used to authenticate Apple Pay transactions and third-party app logins.
Spring iOS updates often bring new emoji characters, and iOS 15.4 is no exception. The update introduces support for Emoji 14, adding 37 emoji and 75 skin tone additions for a total of 112 new characters.
New faces include a melting face, a saluting face, a face with open eyes and a hand over the mouth, a face with a peeking eye, a face with a diagonal mouth and a dotted face, while new emojis include biting lips and bubbles.
There are several new hand emoji such as heart hands, right hand, left hand, palm down, palm up, hand with index finger and thumb crossed, index finger pointing at the viewer, and a handshake emoji update.
A nest of eggs, an empty nest, an x-ray, a crutch, a baby slide, a wheel, a ring buoy, a hamsa, a mirror ball, a jar, an ID card and a discharged battery are new items, while plants and animals will include corals and lotuses. As for fantasy characters, we can expect new troll emoji, while eggs, beans and pouring liquid make up the new food items.
Turn off notifications for personal automation in shortcuts
For personal automation configured in the Shortcuts app, there's a new "Notify at Startup" option that allows you to toggle notifications for shortcuts that are activated or deactivated. With this option, you can avoid being notified when a shortcut is activated, which was not possible in earlier versions of iOS 15.
The Shortcuts app also allows you to add, remove or request reminder tags.
Apple Card widget.
The Today view now has an Apple Card widget that you can add to your Home screen. The Apple Card widget shows your current balance and daily spending in different categories.
iCloud Keychain Notes
iCloud Keychain users can now add notes to any password entry, bringing iCloud Keychain more in line with other password storage options like 1Password.
On iPhone and iPad, the iCloud Keychain can be accessed in the Settings app under Passwords.
Hiding password warnings in the iCloud Keychain
Apple provides security advisories for weak or compromised passwords stored in the iCloud keychain, but in some situations you won't be able to change those passwords.
If this is the case, in iOS 15.4 you can dismiss these warnings by clicking the "x" button next to the warning. This action will hide the security advisory so that it won't show up in the main password section of the Settings app.
If you need to view the warning again, you can find it under Hidden security advisories in Password Settings.
120Hz animation in third-party apps on iPhone 13 Pro
Since the release of the iPhone 13 Pro models, users have noticed that third-party apps are not displaying all animations at the full 120 Hz refresh rate. Apple has stated that there is a major animation bug that will be fixed in a future update, and it looks like iOS 15.4 is the update.
In iOS 15.4, all animations in the app will be displayed at 120 Hz, which will provide a much smoother and more optimized use of the app.
Custom email domains.
iOS 15.4 expands support for the custom email domain feature available for iCloud+ paid plans by adding the ability to set up a custom domain using iCloud Mail directly on your iPhone.
If you go to Settings > > Apple ID > iCloud, "iCloud Mail" is now an available option and includes a section for custom email domain setup.
Apps that support SharePlay now have the option to activate it directly from the share sheet.
Setting up the TV app
Under "TV" in the Settings section of the app, you can now select the "Still Frame" or "Poster" options for the next display in the app. Still Frame shows still frames from what you're watching, while Poster shows the main title images for shows or movies.
Password to log in to the site
Apple says the iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4 updates add a new password feature that allows users to log in to password-compatible Web sites and apps on Macs and iPads using an iPhone with a saved password.
This means that on websites that allow Face ID or Touch ID authentication, you can authenticate using your iPhone instead of entering your password.
By default, Emergency SOS now uses the call on hold feature to make an emergency call. To initiate an emergency call, press and hold the side and volume buttons until the countdown begins. The iPhone will then call emergency services.
A pre-press five times to initiate the call is also available, but it must be enabled under "Emergency SOS" in the Settings app.
Vaccination records in the Health app
Verifiable health records now support adding vaccination records in EU COVID digital certificate format to the Health and Wallet apps, so individuals who live in the EU can add their vaccine cards to the Wallet app for easy access.
Tap to pay on iPhone
iOS 15.4 adds support for "Tap to Pay on iPhone," which allows NFC-enabled iPhones to accept payments via Apple Pay, contactless credit and debit cards and other digital wallets without requiring additional hardware.
Tap to Pay on iPhone is included in iOS 15.4, but it requires third-party service providers to add support. Stripe has announced that it will be the first payment platform to offer Tap to Pay on iPhone to business customers, including Shopify users. Apple Stores in the U.S. will also roll out support for the feature later this year.
Tap to Pay works with the iPhone XS or later and allows supported iOS apps to accept payments from iPhone to iPhone. At checkout, the merchant can prompt the customer to hold their iPhone, Apple Watch, contactless credit or debit card or other digital wallet next to the merchant's iPhone to complete the payment via NFC. As with Apple Pay, this feature supports rewards cards and cashback.
Safari's translation feature now supports Italian and Chinese (traditional).
The Apple News app provides enhanced detection of audio content in both the Today feed and the Audio tab.
When viewing shows in your library, you can filter episodes by played, unplayed, downloaded or saved. There's also the option to go to any show and filter it by specific season.
Standalone Siri updates.
Apple says Siri can provide time and date information offline on the iPhone XS, iPhone XR, iPhone 11 or newer.
Siri's new voice.
iOS 15.4 adds a new Siri voice for U.S. users, which can be selected from the Settings app by going to "Siri & Search" and selecting "Siri Voice."
Airbag update vs. harassment
Apple in iOS 15.4 adds the anti-harassment AirTag changes that were announced in February. When setting up AirTag or Find My accessory, a warning now appears that the device is tied to an Apple ID and that using it to track someone without consent is a crime.
"You can find this item using the Find My network command," the setup screen says. "Using this item to track people without their consent is a crime in many parts of the world. This item is designed to be detected by victims and to allow law enforcement to request identifying information about the owner."
With this warning, Apple wants to let those who would use airbags and find My-compatible devices from third-party companies as harassment tools know that this type of use is illegal and has criminal consequences.
Apple is also fixing a bug that caused confusion around unwanted tracking. AirPods could trigger the "Unknown Accessory" warning, which some people interpreted as a notification from AirTag. Airpods cannot display the "Unknown Accessory Detected" message, which is caused by AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, third-generation AirPods and, in some cases, the Find My network accessory.
Trade-In Cosmetic Scan.
Code in iOS 15.4 suggests that Apple is working on a "Cosmetic Scan" feature that will be used when trading in iPhones. Cosmetic scanning will likely be used to check iPhones for damage, such as scratches and dents, to provide a more accurate estimate of the trade-in value.
According to Apple, the close-up in the magnifier can now use the extra-wide camera on the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max to better highlight small objects.
There are also several bug fixes included in this update, as described below.
- The keyboard can insert a period between typed numbers
- News widgets in today mode may not open articles when clicked
- Photos and videos may not sync with your iCloud photo library
- Speak Screen's special features feature may exit the Books app unexpectedly
- Live listening may not turn off when you turn it off in Control Center
Updates only for iPad
iPadOS 15.4 and macOS Monterey 12.3 include the long-awaited Universal Control feature, which is designed to allow you to use one cursor and keyboard to control your iPad and Mac logged into your iCloud account.
Universal Control is very easy to use and is enabled by default after upgrading to iPadOS 15.4 and macOS Monterey 12.3. For example, if you have a MacBook and iPad, you can also use the MacBook trackpad and keyboard directly on the iPad display.
There are new Universal Control settings on the iPad and Mac, and on the iPad, the ability to turn it on or off is listed under Handoff & AirPlay. Universal Control is for Mac/iPad only and is not compatible with iPhone.
- How to set up Universal Control between Mac and iPad
- How to use Universal Control on a Mac and iPad
Corner gestures of the iPadOS Notes app
There's a new Angular Gestures section under Quick Notes in the Notes section of the Settings app on iPad. In this section, you can select functions for left corner swipe and right corner swipe.
Options include a quick note or screenshot, as well as the ability to turn off corner swipes.
iOS 15.4: How to customize iPadOS corner gestures
There's a new keyboard brightness option in iPadOS 15.4 that you can add to Control Center to adjust the brightness of a connected backlit keyboard.
It works for Apple's Magic Keyboard, but it must be added to Control Center by going to Settings > Control Center and clicking the "+" button next to Keyboard Brightness.
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