Apple Updates Roundup: iOS/iPad OS 15.4, Watch OS 8.5, Monterey 12.3 and more

Apple has just released their latest round of updates, which includes the long awaited “Universal Control”, a new Siri Voice, Apple TV functionality (gasp), and a whole lot more.

MacOS Monterey 12.3:

A MacBook Pro next to an iPad Pro showing off the new Universal Control feature
This image in finally real

The headlining feature is the long awaited ”Universal Control”. This allows you to use a single mouse and keyboard across your Macs and iPads. As Apple showed in their original announcement, your can type text on your Mac keyboard and have it appear on your iPad, or drag photos on your iPad over to the Mac with either’s keyboard and mouse. All they need to be is right next to each other, on the same network, and on the same Apple account (tutorial likely coming soon). Apple does still list this feature as ”beta”, so keep that in mind.

But that’s not the only thing Monterey is getting. Users with one of the M1 Macs now have access to the ever growing spatial audio that Apple has been pushing out. So if you have a new M1 Mac and a supported set of AirPods, you can now use Spatial Audio.

A lot of the remaining features are shared among all of Apple’s devices, such as the new emojis, the new Siri voice, new Safari in-browser translation support, and improved battery accuracy.

Full patch notes can be found below:

macOS 12.3 adds Universal Control so you can use a single mouse and keyboard across your Mac and iPad. This release also includes new emoji, dynamic head tracking for Music, and other features and bug fixes for your Mac.

Universal Control (beta)

  • Universal Control allows you to use a single mouse and keyboard across iPad and Mac
  • Text can be typed on either Mac or iPad and you can drag and drop files between them

Spatial Audio

  • Dynamic head tracking is available in Music with supported AirPods on Mac computers with the M1 chip
  • Customizable spatial audio settings for Off, Fixed, and Head Tracked are now in Control Center with supported AirPods on Mac computers with the M1 chip

Emoji

  • New emoji including faces, hand gestures, and household objects are available in emoji keyboard
  • Handshake emoji allows you to choose separate skin tones for each hand

This release also includes the following enhancements for your Mac:

  • Siri now includes an additional voice, expanding the diversity of options
  • Podcasts app adds episode filter for seasons, played, unplayed, saved, or downloaded episodes
  • Safari webpage translation adds support for Italian and Chinese (Traditional)
  • Shortcuts now supports adding, removing, or querying tags with Reminders
  • Saved passwords can now include your own notes
  • Battery capacity readings have improved accuracy

This release also includes bug fixes for your Mac:

  • News widgets in Today View may not open articles when clicked
  • Audio may sound distorted while watching video in the Apple TV app
  • Some photos and videos may be unintentionally moved when organizing albums in Photos

Some features may not be available for all regions or on all Apple devices. For information on the security content of Apple software updates, please visit this website: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT201222

iOS 15.4: .

There are 4 main feature changes in iOS 15.4 (good little synchronicity there). First and foremost, iPhone 12 and 13 users will now be able to unlock their phones with Face ID while wearing a mask WITHOUT needing an Apple Watch. Not only this, but apps and services that you have set to use Face ID to unlock them (like finance apps, secure messaging apps, Apple Pay, etc.) will now be able unlockable while wearing your mask. This is long overdue but no less welcome. It will also require a third scan of your face to make sure it has all the info, but that doesn’t take even 5 minutes.

Secondly, SharePlay sessions can be launched from within the media app rather than being started from FaceTime.

3rd, If you’re using an iPhone XS or newer, you’ll now be able to get date and time info from Siri without a network connection. This is part of Apple slowly weening Siri off of network functionality, and also long overdue.

Lastly, those who are in the European Union will now be able to store their EU Digital COVID certificates in the Health App and Vaccine cards in Apple Wallet. Great for them (now if only I could get more of that in America)

There are many more feature additions and bug fixes included in the patch. Full patch notes can be found below:

Face ID

  • 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

Emoji

  • 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

FaceTime

  • SharePlay sessions can be initiated directly from supported apps

Siri

  • 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

Vaccine cards

  • 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

Some features may not be available for all regions or on all Apple devices. For information on the security content of Apple software updates, please visit this website:
https://support.apple.com/kb/HT201222

iPadOS 15.4: Shareplay + iOS 15.4 features

The purple 2022 iPad Air

The iPad’s big feature is Universal control, just like we talked about in the Mac section. Now you’ll be able to easily drag and drop text and other items seamlessly across iPads and Macs as well as type from a single device.

One other note is that, like the iPhone, if you’re using an iPad with the A12Z Bionic chip or later, then you’ll be able to access date and time functions with Siri without a network connection. Unclear why this is dependent on the chip, but it is so.

Most of the other updates are pretty much otherwise in line with the iPhone counterpart or the rest of Apple’s lineup.

Full patch notes can be found below:

Universal Control

  • Universal Control allows you to use a single mouse and keyboard across iPad and Mac
  • Text can be typed on either iPad or Mac and you can drag and drop files between them

Emoji

  • New emoji including faces, hand gestures, and household objects
  • Handshake emoji allows you to choose separate skin tones for each hand

FaceTime

  • SharePlay sessions can be initiated directly from supported apps

Siri

  • Siri can provide time and date information while offline on iPad Pro with A12Z Bionic and later
  • Siri now includes an additional voice, expanding the diversity of options

This release also includes the following enhancements for your iPad:

  • Volume controls can be set to adjust as you rotate your iPad, on iPad (5th generation and newer), iPad mini (4th and 5th generation), iPad Air 2, iPad Air (3rd and 4th generation), and iPad Pro
  • iCloud custom email domains can be managed from Settings
  • Safari webpage translation adds support for Italian and Chinese (Traditional)
  • Podcasts app adds episode filters for seasons, played, unplayed, saved, or downloaded episodes
  • 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 adds support for tags in Reminders; add, remove, or query tags when creating and editing Shortcuts
  • Security recommendations can now be hidden
  • Saved passwords can now include your own notes in Settings

This release also includes bug fixes for your iPad:

  • 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

Some features may not be available for all regions or on all Apple devices. For information on the security content of Apple software updates, please visit this website:https://support.apple.com/kb/HT201222

WatchOS 8.5

Compared to its other counterparts, Apple Watch’s feature list is a little light. But the updates here are worth mentioning.

First, you’ll now be able to authorize transactions on your Apple TV from the Watch. Meaning if you want to purchase a subscription or download an app on your Apple TV, you’ll be able to approve it from your Apple Watch as well as from your iPhone, iPad, or by typing in your password on the Apple TV.

If you’re a Fitness+ subscriber with visual impairments, you’ll be happy to know Apple has added audio commentary to describe moves and position hint to help you do workouts shown on screen with proper form.

Apple has improved its ability to detect atrial fibrillations with the Apple Watch. If you live in the U.S, Chili, Hong Kong, and South Africa, you’ll be getting this feature first. Apple says the feature is still rolling out, but if you want to check if you have it, update your iPhone to 15.4, then update your Watch to 8.5. After that you can check by opening up the Health app, hitting “Browse”, selecting “Heart”, then ”Irregular Heart Notification”, and then hitting ”About” at the bottom. If the feature version says version 2, then you have the updated check system. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait until Apple works it out with your country’s regulatory body.

Speaking of which, EU citizens with iOS 15.4 will be able to add their Covid vaccine certifications to the Apple Wallet on the Watch.

Full Patch notes are below:

watchOS 8.5 includes new features, improvements, and bug fixes, including:

  • Ability to authorize Apple TV purchases and subscriptions
  • COVID-19 vaccination cards in Apple Wallet now support the EU Digital COVID Certificate format
  • Updates to irregular rhythm notifications designed to improve atrial fibrillation identification. Available in the United States, Chile, Hong Kong, South Africa and many regions where the feature is available. To determine your version visit: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT213082
  • Audio hints in Fitness+ provide you with audio commentary of visually demonstrated moves during workouts

For information on the security content of Apple software updates, please visit this website: https://support.apple.com/HT201222

Apple TV 15.4: Captive Portal Support and more!

The Apple TV got some special updates. The biggest feature is the support for captive portals. These are things that prevent you from getting access to the Internet on a wifi network without going through that owner’s special webpage to be approved. You typically see things like this in hotels, coffee shops, and universities. With tvOS 15.4, if your Apple TV detects it being directed to a captive portal page, it can now send everything to your iPhone or iPad for you to complete the registration. Note that this might not work on all networks. Some places, like universities and schools, may use a more complex set of tools like Bradford to register the devices, and using a device like your iPhone may trigger it to use a different process than your TV’s need. Either way, this is definitely a welcome improvement.

That’s not all you get. The Apple TV video player will have a new “Up Next” queue function, allowing you to hop directly and easily from show to show in your TV queue. There will also be a new volume slider in the player should you be having trouble with the hardware buttons on your device. And if you use an Apple Watch running 8.5 (see above), you’ll now be able to complete transactions from your Apple Watch.

If you wanted to be able to monitor your home cameras while watching content on your Apple TV, then you’re in luck because that’s also in this new update.

Lastly, if you needed the “Tap to Navigate” for accessibility reasons (or you just preferred it), that function has been added.

HomePod: More Captive Portal Support!

HomePod, like it’s Apple TV counterpart, has support for captive portal, meaning if you’re wanting to setup a HomePod in your dorm room, then you can use your iPhone or iPad to help continue the setup on behalf of said HomePod.

Also Belgian and Netherland users will be happy to know that Siri on the HomePod can now recognize your voices in Dutch and French to give you features specific to you, like sending messages from your account, while keeping other members of your household from using the features locked to you. Speaking of Siri, the new voice has been added to it as well.

Full patch notes can be found below:

Software version 15.4 enables connecting HomePod to Wi-Fi networks that require additional sign-in steps, for example those provided by hotels or dorms, and adds Siri voice recognition support for Dutch (Belgium, Netherlands), and French (Belgium). This update also includes performance and stability improvements.

Other Notes:

As usual the previous 2 versions of Mac OS (Catalina and Big Sur) are receiving the necessary computer patches to go alongside Monterey (and some particular to them), so you’ll want to make sure you get those.

There are also updates for XCode and the Command Line Utilities for them, so if you use Brew or are a developer in Xcode, you have that to look forward to.

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