September saw the release of iOS and iPadOS version 15. Since then, four major updates have rolled out, adding a ton of useful new features along the way. March 14th saw another big update, bringing iOS and iPadOS up to 15.4. You’ve likely already completed the update and are probably familiar with some of the more obvious changes. But this being Apple, there’s plenty going on that you may not even know about in the new operating system.
We took a look at 15.4, made a few notes, and had a few pointers to share. Let’s take a quick look at some of the obvious and less obvious changes in the new iOS version.
Unlock Device While Wearing A Mask
Yes, the world health crisis is still a problem, though thankfully does seem to be on the decline. With that said, you quickly learned how annoying it can be trying to use a Face ID while wearing a face mask. It’s the sort of problem that really did catch the world by surprise, forcing technicians everywhere to scramble for a solution.
Well, the solution is finally here.
iOS 15.4 introduces the option to unlock your device while wearing a mask, and early reports say that it works pretty well. You can turn on the option on iPhone 12 and 13, but not on 11. Apple has gone on record as saying that full Face ID is still the safer option, but chances are most will opt to finally not have to remove their mask every time they want to use their phone.
New Emoji Images
If you updated to the new operating system exclusively for the new emoji bundle, you’re in for a treat. Emoji 14 adds a whopping 37 new images, as well as 75 new skin tones. That’s a grand total of 112 new characters that are ready to populate your text conversations.
Some of the standouts include the melting face that’s perfect for summer, the salute, hands covering eyes, and many more. Don’t forget the new biting lip, which is perfect for those that enjoy a little text flirting.
Tap To Pay
This one is a biggie and a massive step towards a contactless payment future that everyone has been waiting for. iOS 15.4 supports Tap To Pay without requiring any additional hardware. NFC compatible phones will now accept all payments through contactless credit and debit cards, Apple Pay, and other wallets.
Though, there are a few caveats. Third-party providers need to add support for the feature, which means that it might still be some time before it becomes standard. Word is that there are already plans for the United States to adopt the system later this year, which isn’t very encouraging for Apple users elsewhere in the world. Still, it’s a quality of life step that many have been asking for, and it’s a pleasure to see it finally moving forward.
Personal Automation Notifications
If you’re more business-oriented, this update might be a little more up your alley. Previously, when Personal Automations ran, it pushed a notification to the Home screen. Simply put, this update allows that notification to get turned off, keeping the Home screen clear. A small change but something that will be very useful for those that lean into Personal Automations.
Apple Card Widget
Another small but very useful addition is the new Apple Card widget. Available for the Today view, which itself can get added to the Home screen, the widget grants a quick overview of an Apple Card account balance. Extremely useful and it cuts out a lot of unnecessary steps that were previously mandatory.
If you’re packing the impressive iPhone 13 Pro, you might have noticed that third-party animations weren’t taking advantage of the full 120Hz refresh rate. Apple technicians were quick to say that this was a bug, and the fix is nowhere in iOS 15.4. All animations, including those involving third-party apps, will now all run at a silky smooth 12HZ, assuming you’re using the iPhone 13 Pro.
Emergency SOS Update
You might not like to think about it but when the time comes to make an emergency call you’ll be glad for this update. An emergency call can now get triggered by holding the side and volume buttons simultaneously, which will start a visible countdown. Once the countdown hits zero the device will dial emergency services immediately. The default system makes the Hold enabled, ensuring that the emergency services can’t get interrupted.
TV App Additions
Apple portable devices and TVs are inseparable these days, and it’s about time that some steps were taken to make the technology work well together. After all, if printers can order their own ink, surely Apple can improve their TV app additions?
iOS Version 15.4 aims to do just that and now, your device’s TV section has a Still Frame or Poster Art option under Preferences.
Just as the name suggests, the Up Next tab will now show specific stills of the show you’re currently watching. Poster Art, meanwhile, will show the promotional poster for the show, including for both films and TV shows. It’s a small but really great quality of life adjustment that goes a long way.
AirTags Update For Anti-Stalking
Lastly, the AirTags feature is now getting an anti-stalking feature. You might have already heard that the AirTag feature has become extremely controversial, given that it unintentionally allows for the stalking of a user’s location. If you set up an AirTag for a device or a Find My accessory it means that your location may get tracked, even without your consent.
There has been a great deal of confusion around this, but steps are now being taken to correct the issue. iOS 15.4, first and foremost, now shows a warning when Find My is in use. The warning makes it clear that tracking a device without consent is a crime and that the feature is meant explicitly for law enforcement.
Additionally, Apple has also made it clear that receiving the Unknown Accessory Alert is not due to an AirTag getting tracked.
All in all, like all other Apple updates, version 15.4 improves an already good OS and highlights just how Apple is constantly working on improving its offering in line with consumer demands.