Apple iOS 15.4 Release: Should You Upgrade?
Apple has released iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4 and they are two of the most anticipated iOS 15 updates so far, packed full of new features (including Face ID Mask Unlock), bug fixes and security updates. On the flipside, iPhone and iPad owners are reporting problems. So should you upgrade? Here’s everything you need to know.
Tip: bookmark this page because I will keep it up to date if/when new problems 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, this means the 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 manually triggered by navigating to Settings > General > Software Update. If you are running newer beta software (see ‘The Road Ahead’ section at the end), you must unenroll your device before the update will appear.
The Deal Breakers
Jailbreakers, you’re still in limbo. Both Unc0ver and checkra1n have yet to crack iOS 15, so iOS 15.4 is off limits for you. Considering all the features you are missing out on, I would 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 appears to be far from bug-free. Notably, I’m seeing reports of irregular storage consumption, system instability and irregular internet connectivity. Storage issues are the most common of these and worth keeping an eye on as more users upgrade.
So What Do You Get?
Apple’s official iOS 15.4 release notes show just 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 objects are now available in emoji keyboard
- Handshake emoji allows you to choose separate skin tones for each hand
- SharePlay sessions can be initiated directly from supported apps
- Siri can provide time and date information while offline on iPhone XS, iPhone XR, iPhone 11 or newer
- Siri now includes an additional voice, expanding the diversity of options
- EU Digital COVID Certificate support in Health enables you to download and store verifiable versions of COVID-19 vaccination, lab results, and recovery records
- COVID-19 vaccination cards in Apple Wallet now support the EU Digital COVID Certificate format
This release also includes the following enhancements for your iPhone:
- Safari webpage 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 enhanced discovery of audio content in the Today feed and Audio tab
- Camera in keyboard can be used to add text to Notes and Reminders
- Shortcuts now supports adding, removing, or querying tags with Reminders
- Emergency SOS settings have changed to use Call with Hold for all users. Call with 5 Presses is still available as an option in Emergency SOS settings
- Close-up in Magnifier uses the ultra-wide camera on 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:
- Keyboard may insert period between typed numbers
- News widgets in Today View may not open articles when tapped
- Photos and videos may not sync to iCloud Photo Library
- Speak Screen Accessibility feature may quit unexpectedly within the Books app
- Live Listen may not turn off when switched off in Control Center
The headline news in iOS 15.4 adds Apple’s long-awaited Face ID support for users wearing a mask. There are a lot of clever algorithm tricks to keep the process secure despite missing half your face, and early signs are that Apple has nailed this.
Oddly, Apple has omitted the other big news from the iOS 15.4 release notes: support for Universal Control. This groundbreaking feature enables users to control both a Mac and an iPad seamlessly with the same input devices, for example, you to drag and drop an image from a MacBook onto an email open on an iPad. It’s mind-bending stuff and hugely impressive.
As for security, Apple’s official security page confirms there are a total of 39 security patches in iOS 15.4 with flaws found in FaceTime, iTunes, Safari (via its Webkit core), Siri and WiFi. The good news is none of these was a ‘Zero-Day’ vulnerability, which means they were fixed before hackers were able to exploit them.
Apple iOS 15.4 Verdict: Upgrade
Unlike Apple’s relatively flawless recent iOS 15 updates, iOS 15.4 is far from bug free. That said, the problems at this stage do seem relatively isolated (caveat: watch for the storage issue growing) and the combination of numerous new features and a lorry load of security patches sway me towards giving this release a thumbs-up.
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 in one week.
The Road Ahead
At the time of publication, Apple has not released a new iOS 15 beta though I would expect iOS 15.5 to enter testing soon and an iOS 15.4.1 dedicated bugfix to appear before that. Storage capacity issues have been consistent throughout iOS 15’s release and Apple needs to fix this now the software is relatively stable after a dumpster fire launch.
Kelly, G. (2022, March 16). Apple iOS 15.4 Release: Should You Upgrade? Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonkelly/2022/03/15/apple-ios154-new-ios-15-release-should-you-upgrade-free-iphone-update/?sh=4ee924b73241