If you’ve been using an iPhone or iPad for a while, you’re used to frequent updates to iOS or iPadOS. Some users update immediately, but many people take an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach and wait months to hit that Download and Install button. The release of iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4 is one of those occasions where you shouldn’t wait.
This is the most significant update to iOS 15 yet and comes with several bug fixes, new features, and welcome improvements. There are new emojis, a new Siri voice, additional webpage translation options, and lots more. But these are the big three features that are going to make you want to rush to Settings right now.
This one’s just an iPadOS feature and has nothing to do with iPhones, but it’s so cool it still tops the list. We’ve been waiting for Universal Control ever since Apple showed it off at WWDC last summer. It’s one of those software features that feels like “magic” and it can change the way you use your Mac and iPad.
Yes, it’s only for those with a Mac (with macOS 12.3 or later), but it’s absolute genius. Once you set it up (it’s easy, we’ll show you how), you simply bring your iPad within Bluetooth range of your Mac, move the mouse cursor past the edge of your display, and “push” it onto your iPad. Your Mac mouse or trackpad and keyboard will then control your iPad. Just move the cursor back past the edge of your iPad to bring it back to your Mac.
You can even drag and drop files back and forth between your Mac and applications on your iPad. Magic.
Face ID with a Mask
Maybe this is a year later than we would have liked, but iOS 15.4 introduces a new Face ID with a Mask feature. This essentially takes a new face scan that uses more data points in the top half of your face while ignoring the bottom, so you can use Face ID for everything you do now (unlocking your iPhone, entering passwords and form autofill, logging in to apps and websites, etc.) while wearing a mask.
It’s slightly less reliable than regular Face ID, and if you wear glasses you’ll need to make new scans wearing each pair of glasses you own, but if you wear a mask often it’s worth it.
Even as COVID mask requirements are starting to ease, this feature will be really useful to anyone who lives in a cold climate and might cover their lower face with a scarf or similar garment.
iCloud Keychain password improvements
There are lots of ways people manage their passwords, but on iPhone, it’s the default iCloud Keychain that gets the most use. Defaults are powerful, after all. In iOS 15.4, Apple has addressed two of the worst pain points with password management on your iPhone.
First, Safari will no longer save passwords if you haven’t typed in a user name–rather, it will prompt you for a user name first. This seems obvious, but it happened quite often that the user name and password are on separate pages or get tripped up by a one-time password prompt, which would then be saved to your iCloud keychain with no login associated with it. Now you’ll be able to fill in a user name or just toss the saved login completely.
What’s more, a simple login/password combo is not always enough for some sites. Some required other ID numbers, or have password challenge questions that need to be answered periodically. With iOS 15.4, you can add notes to your saved passwords. Just open Settings, tap Passwords, choose one of your saved logins, and tap Add Notes to store a secure bit of text with your iCloud Keychain entry. When you need to access that extra info, just head over to the same Passwords tab, authenticate with Face ID or Touch ID, and find the entry in the list. And of course, passwords are also synced to your Mac, so you can access your note there, too.