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iOS 15.4 is set to release next week

iOS 15.4 is set to release next week


The update introduces a face mask-friendly Face ID, Tap to Pay, and more

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Apple’s rolling out its highly anticipated iOS 15.4 update next week. The update, which has been in beta since January, comes packed with an array of exciting new features offering improvements to the overall user experience.

iOS 15.4 introduces a mask-friendly Face ID

Apple doesn’t pinpoint an exact release date, but it may become available as an update starting on March 18th. This is the same day Apple’s new iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro with sleek green finishes become available. As noted on the press release, each phone will ship with iOS 15.4, so it would only make sense to launch the update on the same day.

iOS 15.4 brings a mask-friendly Face ID that makes it possible to unlock your phone while wearing a face mask, a feature that works surprisingly well (in the beta, at least). Apple previously tried to address the face mask issue by creating a feature that bypasses Face ID and instead verifies your identity using your Apple Watch — that is, if you even have one. The new update should make the process of unlocking your phone a lot smoother while wearing a mask and shouldn’t require you to repeatedly type in your passcode or have an Apple Watch strapped to your wrist.

Apple’s new Tap to Pay feature is also rolling out with iOS 15.4, transforming compatible iPhones into terminals for contactless payments. This means you might see more merchants using their iPhones as a sort of digital cash register, potentially replacing Square’s card readers that plug directly into iPhones. The feature supports payments using Apple Pay, NFC-enabled credit and debit cards, as well as other digital wallets.

Moving along, iOS 15.4 introduces a new safety feature for AirTags, Apple’s item-tracking device that, unfortunately, has been used to stalk people. The update includes a notification that warns users against using AirTags to track someone’s location without their consent, building upon the anti-stalking features Apple released in February.

Other notable features include a fifth American voice for Siri, which Apple has confirmed belongs to a member of the LGBTQ+ community. iOS 15.4 also serves up a platter full of 36 new emoji that you can use to spice up your messages, including a melting face, a person peering through their fingers, and an awkward biting lip icon that’s fated to achieve the same notoriety as the eggplant emoji.

iOS 15.4 will be compatible with any device that supports iOS 15, ranging from the first generation iPhone 6S to the iPhone 13. You can view the full list of compatible devices here.