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iOS 15.4 and macOS 12.3 are here with Universal Control and more


The iPhone 13 Pro Max, photographed by the iPhone 13 Pro in low light.
Enlarge / The iPhone 13 Pro Max, photographed by the iPhone 13 Pro in low light.

Samuel Axon

Today, Apple pushed out the public releases of all its operating systems, including iOS/iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS. These releases include new features across all platforms, not just bug fixes or security updates.

As usual, the iOS and iPad update (iOS and iPadOS 15.4) is the most major in terms of number and breadth of changes. The two biggest new features are arguably Universal Control support for the iPad and the ability to use Face ID while wearing a protective face mask.

To use Face ID with a mask, users must opt in to the capability in Settings. And Universal Control, which allows users to control both a Mac and an iPad seamlessly with the same input devices, requires both an iPad and a Mac on the latest software releases.

As previously reported, iOS 15.4 allows iPhones to receive contactless payments via NFC without the use of additional hardware, improving the phone’s usefulness as a point-of-sale device. There are also numerous new emoji, and there’s now support for the EU Digital COVID Certificate format when storing vaccination information in Wallet.

On the Mac side, macOS Monterey 12.3 also adds support for Universal Control and new emoji. Further, it adds support for dynamic head-tracking Spatial Audio in the Music app on M1 Macs in tandem with supported AirPods headphones.

Other notable changes across iOS, iPadOS, and macOS include the addition of a new American English Siri voice option, support for Italian and Chinese (Traditional) in Safari’s built-in web page translator, and numerous other tweaks and bug fixes.

As for watchOS and tvOS, the updates are smaller in scope—but there are still some new features.

watchOS 8.5 also adds support for the EU Digital COVID Certificate. The Apple Watch can now be used to authorize purchases on the Apple TV, there are new audio hints in Fitness+ workouts, and the update includes “updates to irregular heart rhythm notifications designed to improve atrial fibrillation identification.”

And then there’s tvOS. The Apple TV software now supports captive Wi-Fi networks—meaning you can use an iOS or iPadOS device to help the set-top box connect to hotel Wi-Fi and other networks that require you to go through some sort of special dialogue. This capability is also now available on HomePod speakers with the latest software.

tvOS 15.4 includes an update to the Spatial Audio configuration interface, new volume controls, and a new feature for queuing from one video into another more seamlessly.

All these updates are available on supported devices today. Read on below for Apple’s full release notes for the iOS, macOS, and watchOS updates.



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