It’s here, and earlier than expected. Apple had merely said that it would release iOS 15.4 this week. We knew it would be by Friday at the latest because that’s when the next products, iPhone SE and iPad Air, go on sale. But the smart money was on a Tuesday release. That’s Apple’s favorite software release day, usually.
But, no, it went live in the last few minutes and it’s full of new features, as well as the usual security fixes and bug squishes. Read on for the full details of what’s in it, and how to get it.
Oh, and something else went live just now, too, and it’s a ground-breaking change for Apple. It released software updates to all three of its major operating systems on the same day: iOS, iPadOS and macOS. Mac updates invariably arrive later, but not this time.
Make Forbes your destination for all-things iOS. Stay ahead of the curve with Anthony Karcz when each version hits public beta. Read full details of what’s in the release from me the moment it lands. Kate O’Flaherty looks at the security considerations of each new release. And then read Gordon Kelly’s analysis of whether you ought to install or wait.
Which iPhones can run iOS 15.4?
If you have a device that runs iOS 14, you’re in luck. Impressively, Apple has ensured that every iOS 14-capable iPhone runs iOS 15, too. That’s quite the achievement, stretching back across every device released in the last six years. That’s every iPhone from the iPhone 6s onwards and includes all three generations of iPhone SE, including the new model which goes on sale this Friday.
For iPads, you’re good to go with iPadOS 15.4 if you have any iPad Pro, any iPad Air from iPad Air 2, iPad mini 4 or newer and iPad from the fifth generation onwards. This includes the iPad Air fifth generation which is on sale from Friday.
How to get it
Updating couldn’t be simpler: open the Settings app on the device and then choose General, then Software Update. Once you’ve clicked on Download and Install, it’ll do everything for you.
What’s in the release
Settle in, there’s a lot to get through here. First up, and the big-ticket item in the release is Face ID with a mask. Now, you don’t need to remove your mask to unlock the iPhone. It’ll do it with your mask on as well as off. Apple Watch users have had this feature for a while now, but this works without and is more versatile.
Important caveat: it only works on iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 series, not Face ID phones before then, including the iPhone 11 which is still part of Apple’s range.
New emoji arrive with iOS 15.4, including some cool new Smiley faces, a cute troll, a pink lotus and more. Read the comprehensive guide to what’s new here.
Universal Control is another big item, that’s been long-awaited. It’s part of iPadOS and macOS, which is the reason all three OS updates have arrived simultaneously. It allows you to hook up (wirelessly) multiple iPads and Macs, so you can transfer files, for instance from one to the other just by dragging from one screen to the next, using a mouse and trackpad. There are also improvements to iCloud Keychain, so you can save notes to entries, for instance. And where the Keychain has previously let you save passwords without usernames, which isn’t always what you want. Now, you can ensure usernames are saved, too.
Retailers, especially small, independent traders, will like Tap to Pay, so they can use the iPhone as a payment terminal. There are improvements to Live Text in Notes and Reminders so you can scan text easily.
It’s an exciting release and there are more details which are only just becoming clear. Check back for more information as we have it.