Apple iOS 15.4 Public Beta 1 Adds Universal Control, New Emojis, More | #ios | #apple | #iossecurity

After the dud that was iOS 15.3, the latest beta brings tons of new feature to test. 

iOS 15.3 was released to the public earlier this week and, as expected, the iOS 15.4 public beta started almost immediately after. What’s even better is that, unlike its predecessor, this latest Public Beta is chock-full of new features to test out. 

What’s New 

After the dearth of features in iOS 15.3, some started to wonder what Apple’s plan was for the rest of iOS 15. Was the company slowing down feature releases? Had they run out of juice? 

Those fears were unfounded, as this week’s iOS 15.4 Public Beta 1 has some long-awaited features as well as a few unexpected surprises. 

The biggest new change is to Face ID. Now you can select to have Face ID work when you’re wearing a mask, no Apple Watch needed. There is a warning that this is less secure than regular Face ID but it’s still nice to have the option.

How does it work? You’ll be asked if you want to set it up when your iPhone first reboots after upgrading. Just make sure you’re in a place where you can take your mask off, because doing so requires a fresh Face ID scan. If you wear glasses, you can do an additional scan after turning on the Face ID with Mask option for greater accuracy. 

What else is in iOS 15.4 Public Beta 1?

  • Universal Control: If you’re testing iPadOS, you’ll be able to try out this long-awaited feature that lets you use one mouse (or touchpad) and keyboard to control all your devices, just like they were multiple screens on the same system. 
  • Wallet: There’s now a Wallet widget, which will show you your card balance and spending breakdown (if you really want to see that all time). 
  • Emojis: There are 30 new ones being released including a melting face, bit lip, and a pregnant guy (I’m guessing the bit lip comes before the pregnancy). It’s an odd mix but I’m impressed by the diversity. 
  • iCloud Keychain: You can add notes to your passwords
  • Apple TV: You’ll be able to use your iPhone or iPad to sign your Apple TV into captive networks (like hotels, where you need to take additional steps not supported by tvOS). 
  • Airpods: The status icons now display different states (if applicable) for each Airpod. 
  • Notes: Customizable corner swipe actions!
  • Controllers: iOS now supports DualSense adaptive triggers. 
  • Health: EU DCC vaccination records are now supported. 

What’s Broken

Of course, with all the new features, it’s inevitable that there are bugs as well. Here’s what Apple’s working on fixing for the next release:

  • The Health app crashes when you onboard the Blood Oxygen feature from within the app.
  • Some EU Covid certificates can’t be added to the Health app.
  • If you skip Health sharing when setting up an Apple Watch for a family member, you can’t add it later. 
  • Remember all those Thread and Matter issues when iOS 15 first launched? I don’t think they ever really went away, just on hiatus. Pairing of Thread accessories isn’t supported and Matter accessories might become unresponsive. 
  • Purchasing or downloading content from the iTunes store or TV app might fail. 
  • Emergency SOS “Call with 5 presses” is disabled for everyone outside of India, as it was being set as the default unintentionally. 

Whew, that’s quite the list! Of course, this isn’t everything. If you find something that isn’t working right, make sure you log it in the Feedback app. 

What’s Fixed

At the moment, everything that’s fixed in Public Beta 1 is developer-oriented (you can check it out in the official release notes). There’s no real-customer facing fixes. Still, with a prodigious punch list like we’re seeing in the previous section, I imagine there will be plenty of fixes here before long. 

What’s Next

Now this is more like what we signed up for when we signed up for the beta (incidentally, find out how to sign up in the next section)! There are a bunch of new features and sizeable tweaks that refine the iOS 15 experience. 

With so many features this time around, I imagine we’ll be looking at a beta cycle of at least a month. Actually, it’ll likely be more like a month and a week or so. Apple’s spring event will happen sometime in early March. I don’t expect to see a iOS 15.4 release until the event. 

With new, helpful, features and an overall stable build (unless you happen to be affected by one of the bugs above), iOS 15.4 Public Beta 1 is a great spot to jump in and start testing things out. Read on to find out how to do just that. 

How Do I Enroll My Device in a Beta?

Head over to the Apple Beta Program site on the device you’d like to enroll, sign in with your enrolled Apple ID (or create a beta account if you don’t have one already) and follow the steps, it’s as simple as that! You’ll download the beta profile to your iPhone or iPad, then reboot, check for a software update, and you’ll be testing in no time!

Remember, this is beta software and Apple makes it extremely clear in the agreement you scroll past on the way to the Agree button that it can do anything up to and including bricking your device and corrupting your data. My Public Beta Installation Guide has all the housekeeping steps you need to take before installing the beta.

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