Today Apple released the public versions of all of its operating systems including iOS/iPadOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS. These versions 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 important in terms of number and scope of changes. Arguably the two biggest new features are 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 enable the feature in Settings. And Universal Control, which allows users to seamlessly control both a Mac and iPad using the same input devices, requires both an iPad and Mac with the latest software versions.
As previously reported, iOS 15.4 enables 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 emojis and there is now support for the EU COVID digital 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. Additionally, support for dynamic head-tracking spatial audio is added in the Music app on M1 Macs along with supported AirPods headphones.
Other notable changes for iOS, iPadOS, and macOS include the addition of a new Siri language option for American English, Italian and Chinese (Traditional) support in Safari’s built-in web page translator, and numerous other optimizations and bug fixes.
For watchOS and tvOS, the updates are smaller – but there are still some new features.
watchOS 8.5 also adds support for the EU COVID digital certificate. The Apple Watch can now be used to authorize purchases on the Apple TV, there are new audio cues in Fitness+ workouts, and the update includes “Updates to irregular heart rhythm notifications to improve atrial fibrillation detection.”
And then there’s tvOS. Apple TV software now supports proprietary Wi-Fi networks, which means you can use an iOS or iPadOS device to help the set-top box connect to hotel Wi-Fi and other networks to connect, for which you have to go through some kind of special dialogue. This feature is now also available for 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 more seamless sequencing from one video to another.
All of these updates are available today on supported devices. Read Apple’s full release notes for the iOS, macOS, and watchOS updates below.