Apple releases the last big iOS update before iOS 16 arrives

As expected, Apple released iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4 today. The iOS 15.4 update will allow a person wearing a mask to unlock his iPhone with Face ID even if he is not wearing an unlocked Apple Watch. A previous update allowed mask-wearing iPhone users to unlock their handsets using Face ID as long as they were wearing an unlocked Apple Watch.

With iOS 15.4, you can unlock your iPhone while wearing a mask or verify your identity for Apple Pay

Since not every iPhone user has an Apple Watch, Apple came up with a way for Face ID to verify the user’s face even if it is covered by a mask. But because this uses a smaller “sample size” of the user’s face, it requires technology available only on the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13. And, of course, it requires that the user download iOS 15.4.

The update also adds a new voice for Siri and the virtual assistant will now answer questions about the time and date even while offline.The update allows iPhone users with a business to accept Apple Pay, Visa, American Express, Mastercard, and Discover using nothing more than an iPhone that becomes a point of sale (POS) machine. Named “Tap to Pay on iPhone,” all that is required is the installation of a special app by the merchant for it to work.

When the new feature is installed, a merchant using an iPhone XS or later will ask the customer to hold his iPhone, Apple Watch, or a contactless credit or debit card near the merchant’s iPhone. From there, the magic of NFC connectivity takes over and the payment is approved or not approved.

This is actually a big deal even though many iPhone users don’t need the ability to turn their iPhone into a POS system. For those that do, it will allow these merchants the freedom to open a store anywhere without worrying about accepting contactless credit cards and debit cards from the biggest names in the financial arena.

The update also includes a safety message that will appear during the setup of Apple’s AirTag item tracker. The message points out that it is a crime to use an Apple AirTag to track people and that law enforcement can request user information. The update also adds a new feature called “Precision Finding” which points out nearby unknown AirTags to iPhone users.

How do I install iOS 15.4 and enable “Face ID with a mask?”

What else can we expect from iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4? How about Universal Controls, a feature that allows users to drag and drop files between a Mac and an iPad. The update also allows iPhone users to scan text directly into a file on the Notes app. And with SharePlay integration, songs and other content can quickly be shared over FaceTime.

To install the update go to Settings > General > Software Update. And if you want to enable your iPhone to set up Face ID with a mask, first install iOS 15.4 following the directions listed above. Then go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode. Toggle onĀ  Face ID with a Mask and scan your face (you do not need to wear a mask).

Once you’ve completed updating the phone and enabling Face ID with a mask, you should be able to unlock your iPhone 12 or iPhone 13 model even if a mask is covering your face. It also will work to verify payments made using Apple Pay. This could be the last big iOS and iPadOS software update until iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 are released later this year.

The iOS 15.4 update weighs in a bit on the zaftig side at 1.21GB. But considering all of the new features that are included with this update, the fact that iOS 15.4 is a bit on the plump side is to be expected. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that 37 new Emoji are part of the update.

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