After the truly tiny update that was iOS 15.3, we've now got iOS 15.4, and thankfully this is a much, much bigger update for Apple's operating system.
There are several big included features, such as the long-awaited Universal Control, along with Face ID functionality with a mask. There's also new emoji, a new Siri voice, and more.
So this is a packed update, and below we've detailed everything you need to know about iOS 15.4, including the features and compatibility.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The latest iOS release
- When is it out? It's available now
- How much will it cost? It's free
iOS 15.4 release date and compatibility
iOS 15.4 landed in finished form on March 14, 2022, so it's available now. For help in getting it, check out our how to upgrade iOS guide.
As for compatibility, it's exactly the same as every other version of iOS 15, meaning that if you're on iOS 15 or above you'll be able to get iOS 15.4 as well. Specifically, that's all handsets from the iPhone 6S onwards, including the iPhone SE (2020) and the original iPhone SE, plus the iPod touch (7th gen).
iOS 15.4 features
There are a bunch of new features and improvements in iOS 15.4, and we've detailed them below.
Face ID with a mask
Well this is new 🤔 (iOS 15.4 Beta 1) pic.twitter.com/MSe7hmPGlRJanuary 27, 2022
The Covid-19 pandemic presented a problem for iPhones, as with the whole world suddenly wearing masks, Face ID wasn't always viable. Apple addressed this problem a while back by allowing your iPhone to unlock if you were wearing an Apple Watch, but with iOS 15.4 it has properly fixed the issue.
iOS 15.4 allows you to set Face ID to work even when you're wearing a mask, by having it just scan the visible parts of your face, such as your eyes.
Apple warns that this is less accurate, and we'd assume also less secure, but it's a way to properly use Face ID with a mask on. It's also optional, so if you'd rather keep doing things the current way, you can disable this feature. Note however that this only works with the iPhone 12 and above.
Universal Control is technically more of an iPadOS 15.4 feature than an iPhone one, as it allows users to connect an iPad to a Mac and use a single mouse and keyboard across both devices, with the iPad’s display being like an extension of the Mac’s.
This feature has been a long time coming, as we first heard about it back at WWDC 2021, but it's finally arrived in iPadOS 15.4.
If, somehow, you feel that there just aren't enough emoji yet, then iOS 15.4 could help, as the update includes 37 new ones, along with 75 skin tone variations for better inclusivity.
New emoji, some of which you can see above, include a biting lip, a melting face, heart hands, and many more.
Anti-stalking measures for AirTag
Apple has a whole range of measures planned to prevent unwanted AirTag tracking, and the first of those have arrived in iOS 15.4. These include a warning when setting up AirTag that using one to track someone unknowingly is illegal, and that AirTag is designed to be detectable and for law enforcement to be able to link it to the owner.
It also includes clearer identification of devices, so you shouldn't get any ‘Unknown Accessory Alerts’.
A new Siri voice
iOS 15.4 also includes a new voice for Siri. This is a fifth option under the 'American' category. So it's an English language voice, and specifically in a US accent. This is a female voice, and you can hear a sample of it below.
iOS 15.4 Beta 4 changes 🧵: Apple adds a 5th American Siri voice with filename ‘Quinn’ pic.twitter.com/HFQZV1oF0IFebruary 22, 2022
Siri can also now provide time and date information while you're offline on devices from the iPhone XS, iPhone XR, iPhone 11 and onwards.
Tap to Pay
Apple recently announced plans for a Tap to Pay feature, which would turn your iPhone into a contactless payments terminal, and iOS 15.4 adds frameworks for developers to enable this service in their apps.
Beyond the features above, all sorts of smaller tweaks and improvements have also been included in iOS 15.4.
These include the ability to initiate SharePlay sessions directly from supported apps, use the camera to add scanned text to Note and Reminders, translate Safari web pages to Italian or Chinese, manage iCloud custom email domains from Settings, use Shortcuts to add, remove, or query tags with Reminders, and add notes to saved passwords in Settings.
There are also now episode filters for seasons, played, unplayed, saved, and downloaded episodes in the Podcasts app, better visibility for audio content in the News app, and the Magnifier app now uses the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max's ultra-wide camera to help you see small objects.
Plus, those in the EU can now add their Covid vaccine cards to the Wallet app, and the Emergency SOS feature now defaults to requiring you to hold the side button and a volume button to initiate a call to the emergency services whatever device you're using - though you can change this to requiring five rapid taps of the side or top button instead.
New versions of iOS almost always come with bug fixes, and iOS 15.4 is no exception. These include a fix for the keyboard inserting a period between typed numbers, one for News widgets in Today View not opening articles when tapped, a fix for photos and videos not syncing to iCloud Photo Library, a fix for the Speak Screen Accessibility feature quitting unexpectedly within the Books app, and one for Live Listen not turning off when switched off in Control Center.
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