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The upcoming iOS 15.4 release promises some much-requested features

iOS 15.3 dropped this week, and despite a pretty serious bug fix, it was disappointingly devoid of any new features. But iOS 15.4 isn’t far off, and with its developer-only beta test now live, we know exactly what to expect from Apple’s next software update. And it’s much more exciting.

Face ID with a Mask

We could have really done with this a year or so back, but better late than never.

With many people around the world still wearing masks in public spaces, Face ID has become something of an annoyance. While some are hoping for the return of Touch ID to iPhones, Apple has a different solution: Face ID will soon be capable of recognizing you from the top half of your face alone.

Glasses wearers will be pleased to know this includes a new function that can recognize your specs too.

Face ID with a Mask won’t be quite as secure as the full-faced version, but unless you have an evil doppelganger with access to your iPhone, it’s unlikely to pose a real-world problem.

The catch? This new functionality will only work with the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 series. Users of older devices are still stuck.

Of course, you could always bypass Face ID completely, using an Apple Watch or this clever voice hack to unlock your iPhone.

Universal Control

With iOS 15.4, we’ll also see the release of Universal Control, a feature first showcased at WWDC almost 8 months ago.

Universal Control gives users the ability to use the same keyboard and mouse to operate an iPad and Mac at the same time, with seamless file transfers between devices. Pretty handy!

New emoji

We get a refresh of the emoji catalog once a year, and it’s almost time for the 2022 icons to be added.

37 new emoji are coming our way, including some new faces, plenty of objects, and even a pregnant man. Personally, we’re looking forward to using the new beans emoji with the disco ball emoji to signify a big night in. There will also be dozens more skin color variations for existing emoji.

And there’s more…

We’ll have full details on everything once it’s finalized and released to the public, but there are a few smaller features coming in iOS 15.4 too.

That includes: vaccine records in Health, an Apple Card spending widget, customizable gestures in Notes, SharePlay integrated into Music, and secure notes in iCloud Keychain.

Lots to look forward to, then. We expect the public release towards the end of February, but it all depends how much Apple has to fix or tweak following feedback from the developer beta. We’ll keep you posted.

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