When Apple releases iOS 15.4—likely in early March, so there’s really not long to wait now—it will have a bunch of new and exciting features. Where recent updates have been fixes and bug squishes, this will be genuinely exciting stuff.
First of all, there are dozens of new emoji—you can read full details of all of them here.
Then there’s Universal Control, which is highly anticipated. It is part of the iPad variant of this software, iPadOS 15.4, which will launch at the same time, and which works with Macs running the next software, macOS 12.3. That will go live when iPadOS 15.4 does.
It means that you can use multiple devices, Macs and iPads, at the same time and control them both (or all) with one mouse and keyboard. Sit the screens side by side and watch as you drag a folder, say, across the display of your MacBook Air. Keep going and it’ll disappear off the laptop’s screen and as it vanishes from view, it’ll appear on the iPad sitting alongside. It’s a pretty remarkable effect. Only Apple.
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But this is the big new feature
Fingers crossed, Covid may be less impactful this year than it has been for the last two. But even so, in the short term at least, we’re going to be wearing masks for a while in some situations.
In London, for instance, masks are optional now in restaurants and shops, but required on London buses and the Tube (although currently not legally enforcible). You have to wear your mask on a plane, of course.
It has meant that unlocking your iPhone has been less smooth than before. If you have an Apple Watch, you can set it so that you can unlock your iPhone when you’re wearing a mask. It’s a wholly successful system that means the iPhone checks with your Watch that you are you and unlocks the screen.
However, it only unlocks the lock screen, it doesn’t perform the other function of Face ID, to work with Apple Pay or certain locked apps. And, obviously, it doesn’t work if you don’t have an Apple Watch.
That’s all going to change
With iOS 15.4, you don’t need an Apple Watch for this facility, and, in fact, it’ll work better than it does right now.
The only work you need to put in is an extra round of Face ID set-up. Like the one you did when you first got the iPhone. Set-up is similar to how it was before where you scan your face twice, but this time, if you wear glasses for the first scan, you remove them before the second.
Then, you’re done. Sunglasses, as you’ll see from the above screen, are not compatible.
The reason this system is better is that instead of just dealing with the main screen unlock, it will also get you into apps locked by Face ID and even work with Apple Pay.
Apple says it’s not quite as secure as Face ID usually is, and the extra scan is because it’s got less of a face to go on when you’re wearing a mask. But it’s still secure enough for Apple to allow Apple Pay to work.
If you really can’t wait…
…I can’t blame you. After all, it’s pretty cool. The only way to get this upgraded system now is to enroll in the public beta of iOS 15.4. For the rest of us, we’ll be waiting just a few more weeks yet.