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iOS 15.4 arrives next week

The iPhone 13 and 13 Pro in their new color are confirmed to ship with iOS 15.4.
Enlarge / The iPhone 13 and 13 Pro in their new color are confirmed to ship with iOS 15.4.

The latest operating system for iPhones will be available next week, Ars Technica has learned. iOS 15.4 will bring the ability to unlock your iPhone via facial recognition while wearing a mask, among other additions. We expect this to be the last major update to the OS before iOS 16.

iOS 15.4 entered beta in January, giving us a peek at new features. Apple didn’t provide a specific release date for the OS but did say yesterday that the new green iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro will come with iOS 15.4 and will be available on March 18.

iOS 15.4 will allow you to unlock a phone with Face ID while wearing a face mask. The feature works by focusing on your eyes, and you can use it while wearing glasses (but not sunglasses). It also works to log in to apps and use Apple Pay. Having your phone’s camera require a full view of your face for logins is still the safest way to ensure that Face ID isn’t tricked, but being able to use your phone while keeping your mask on is more convenient.

Apple’s latest version of iOS should also deliver more emoji. The new smiley faces and colorful characters bring the total up to 838 characters, which were finalized as Unicode 14.0 by the Unicode Consortium in September. New additions include “heart hands,” “coral,” “biting lip,” “melting face,” “pouring liquid,” “low battery,” “pregnant man,” and “pregnant person.”

Other features being rolled out include a new US English voice for Siri and, as detailed by The Verge, Apple Tap to Pay and a notification informing you if someone is using an Apple AirTag to track you unknowingly.

iOS 15.4 is expected to debut alongside iPad OS 15.4 and macOS 12.3.

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