Apple has released iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4 and these are two of the most anticipated iOS 15 updates yet, packed with new features (including Face ID Mask Unlock), bug fixes and security updates. On the other hand, iPhone and iPad owners are reporting issues. So should you upgrade? Here’s everything you need to know.
Tip: bookmark this page as I will update it if/when new issues are found. I will deliver my final verdict in a week.
Who is it for?
Apple iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4 have been released for all iOS 15 compatible devices, that means iPhone 6S (2015) and newer and iPad Mini 4 (2015) and newer. Your device should prompt you to upgrade automatically, but the update can also be triggered manually by going to Settings > General > Software Update. If you are using newer beta software (see “The Road Ahead” section at the end), you must unregister your device before the update appears.
Note: This guide does not focus on older iOS or iPadOS updates, but I will address relevant issues in these guides.
The market breakers
Jailbreakers, you are still in limbo. Both Discover and checkra1n haven’t cracked iOS 15 yet, so iOS 15.4 is forbidden for you. Considering all the features you’re missing, I’d consider rethinking your priorities at this point. Note: This will be my last jailbreak coverage, until progress is made.
For everyone else, the first 24 hours are mostly promising, but iOS 15.4 seems to be far from bug-free. In particular, I see reports of irregular storage room consumption, system instability and irregular the Internet connectivity. Storage issues are the most common and worth watching as more and more users upgrade.
So what do you get?
Apple’s official iOS 15.4 release notes show what a big update iOS 15.4 is:
- Face ID while wearing a mask option on iPhone 12 and newer
- Apple Pay and password autofill in apps and Safari can be used with Face ID while wearing a mask
- New emoji including faces, hand gestures and household items are now available in emoji keyboard
- Handshake emoji lets you choose separate skin tones for each hand
- SharePlay sessions can be launched directly from supported apps
- Siri can provide offline time and date information on iPhone XS, iPhone XR, iPhone 11 or newer
- Siri now includes an additional voice, expanding the variety of options
- EU COVID digital certificate support in Health allows you to upload and store verifiable versions of COVID-19 vaccination, lab results and recovery records
- COVID-19 Vaccination Cards in Apple Wallet Now Support EU COVID Digital Certificate Format
This version also includes the following enhancements for your iPhone:
- Safari web page translation adds support for Italian and Chinese (Traditional)
- Podcasts app adds episode filters for seasons, played, unplayed, saved or downloaded episodes
- iCloud custom email domains can be managed from Settings
- News offers improved discovery of audio content in the Today feed and the Audio tab
- The camera in the keyboard can be used to add text to notes and reminders
- Shortcuts now support adding, deleting, or querying tags with callbacks
- Changed Emergency SOS settings to use call waiting for all users. Call with 5 taps is still available as an option in the Emergency SOS settings
- Close-up in Magnifier uses the ultra-wide camera of the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max to help you see small objects
- Saved passwords can now include your own notes in settings
This release also includes bug fixes for your iPhone:
- The keyboard can insert a period between the digits entered
- Today View news widgets may not open articles when touched
- Photos and videos may not sync to iCloud Photo Library
- Speak Screen Accessibility feature may quit unexpectedly in Books app
- Live listening may not turn off when disabled in Control Center
iOS 15.4’s flagship news adds Apple’s long-awaited Face ID support for users wearing a mask. There are plenty of clever algorithmic tricks to secure the process despite missing half of your face, and early signs indicate that Apple has succeeded.
Curiously, Apple omitted the other big new feature from the iOS 15.4 release notes: support for Universal Control. This revolutionary feature allows users to control both a Mac and an iPad seamlessly with the same input devices, for example, you can drag and drop an image from a MacBook onto an open email on a iPad. It is amazing and extremely impressive.
On the security side, Apple official security page confirms that there are a total of 39 security patches in iOS 15.4 with flaws found in FaceTime, iTunes, Safari (through its Webkit core), Siri and WiFi. The good news is that none of these vulnerabilities were “Zero-Day” vulnerabilities, meaning they were patched before hackers could exploit them.
Apple iOS 15.4 Verdict: Upgrade
Unlike Apple’s recent relatively flawless iOS 15 updates, iOS 15.4 is far from bug-free. That said, the issues at this point seem relatively isolated (warning: watch out for the growing storage problem) and the combination of lots of new features and a load of security patches makes me give this a thumbs up. version.
Note: For those still hesitant to upgrade, bookmark this guide. I will continue to update it with any relevant flaws or features I find and you will receive my final verdict here within a week.
The road to follow
At the time of publication, Apple has not released a new iOS 15 beta, although I expect iOS 15.5 to enter testing soon and a dedicated patch for iOS 15.4.1 to appear before that. Storage capacity issues have been constant throughout the iOS 15 release and Apple needs to address this issue now that the software is relatively stable after a dumpster fire started.
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