iPadOS and iOS 13.4: video walkthrough
Apple began testing the iOS 13.4 and iPadOS updates with its registered developers and public beta testers with the inaugural release of the first betas on February 5, 2020. These software updates added some features that didn’t make the cut for the initial iOS 13.0 release, such as the delayed feature for sharing iCloud folders with multiple people at once.
On top of that, both software updates provide a bunch of new features, from a much-needed fix for that inexplicably half-baked Mail toolbar, keyboard remapping, the ability to unlock a car with your iPhone (and share these digital keys via Messages) and internet iOS recovery to nine new Memoji stickers, a new Shazam It action in the Shortcuts app, the ability to listen for “Hey Siri” with your iPhone face down, download/streaming quality settings for the TV app, going to the Home screen with a voice command and more.
Before we dive deeper, watch Harris’s hands-on video walkthrough embedded ahead for a top-leave overview of all the major new additions in the iOS and iPadOS 13.4 updates.
Along with these new user-facing features, iOS and iPadOS 13.4 enable new developer capabilities such as the creation of universal iOS/macOS apps, allowing iPhone and Apple Watch to unlock automobiles and more.
How to use all the new iOS 13.4 features
Check out all the new features on both iOS 13.4 and iPadOS 13.4, and how to use them.
Enhanced trackpad and mouse support
iPadOS 13.4 expands on iPadOS 13.0’s pretty rudimentary mouse support that note only does away with that comically large pointer in favor of a round, customizable cursor which automatically highlights the user interface elements as you move near them, but also brings a bunch of multi-touch trackpad gestures for doings things like bringing up the Dock, accessing the app switcher and more.
Whereas previously you had to go to your Accessibility options to turn on mouse/trackpad support, this feature has graduated in iPadOS 13.4 and now is more visible. Simply head over to your Bluetooth settings to pair your wireless trackpad or mouse with your iPad like you would any other Bluetooth accessory. That’s it, you can now start using your mouse or trackpad with your Apple tablet.
To adjust the available features, go to Settings → General → Trackpad or Mouse.
iCloud folder sharing
Following an initial delay, this feature that Apple first introduced in the summer 2019 is now finally available to users. Sharing an iCloud folder in its entirety with other people puts iCloud Drive on similar footing as services like Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive and others.
Available across iOS and macOS, this feature comes with additional options for managing permissions, quickly choosing who can see your shared folder and so forth.
To start sharing a folder in your iCloud Drive, select iCloud Drive from the list of sources in the Files app, then long-tap a folder and choose Share from the popup menu.
Override Facedown Detection for “Hey Siri”
A new assistive toggle in both iOS 13.4 and iPadOS 13.4 can be used to temporarily override iOS’ Facedown Detection feature, which was designed to temporarily silence all notifications and “Hey Siri” prompts. When this is enabled, your iPhone or iPad will respond to “Hey Siri” even if you put the device with its face down on a table or cover the screen.
To enable this new assistive option, venture into Settings → Accessibility → Siri, then slide the switch labeled with the text “Always Listen for Hey Siri” to the ON position.
“Hey Siri, Home screen!”
In iOS and iPadOS 13.4, you can ask Siri to take you to the Home screen.
To quickly go to the Home screen on your iPhone and iPad, no hands, a Siri voice command like “Go to Home screen”, “Open Home screen” or similar should do the trick.
If you don’t have iOS or iPadOS 13.4, uttering the Home screen command prompts Siri to instruct you to press the Home button or swipe up from the bottom to get to the Home screen.
Family Sharing integration in the TV app
iOS and iPadOS 13.4 integrate Family Sharing under the TV app’s Library tab.
This makes it easy not only to access and browse any iTunes Store movies or TV shows purchased by accounts included in your Family Sharing circle, but also stream or download them straight to your device. This feature cannot be used to stream content via a family member’s video subscription account, like Netflix, HBO, Apple TV Channels and so forth.
To access your family’s shared purchases, launch the TV app and tap the Library tab at the bottom, then tap Family Sharing in the lefthand column.
Keep in mind that a family member can decide to hide their purchases from others.
Download/streaming controls in the TV app
iOS and iPadOS 13.4 bring granular settings for adjusting video quality in the TV app when streaming or downloading, separately for Wi-Fi and cellular connections. When streaming or downloading over Wi-Fi, the TV app will use a High Dynamic Range (HDR) version of the video, if available (HDR streaming/downloading via cellular is unsupported).
To explore these granular settings, venture into Settings → TV, then use the new separate controls for Wi-Fi and cellular underneath the Streaming and Download Options headings.
Richer Apple Card details for Apple purchases
iOS 13.4 also brings richer Apple Card transaction history for your App Store purchases and other Apple subscriptions in the Wallet app. An updated interface in the Wallet app now displays matching name and icon to visually distinguish between your Apple Music subscription renewals, iCloud storage subscriptions, App Store purchases and so forth. Such transactions were previously classed simply as “Apple Services” purchases and lacked an icon.
To get started with this, launch the Wallet app and tap your Apple Card. You should see richer transaction details for Apple purchases and subscriptions right underneath the heading Transaction History (in-app purchases in first and third-party apps are included, too).
How to use all the new iPadOS 13.4 features
The following capabilities are only supported on iPads running the iPadOS 13.4 update:
Full Keyboard Access
Full Keyboard Access offers touch-free control of your iPad via an external keyboard.
This awesome enhancement lets you use the arrow keys to scroll lists or move between Home screen icons and interactive user interface elements in apps, like buttons and toggles.
Powerful keyboard combinations let you invoke iOS features like Control and Notification Center, the app switcher and more, or access capabilities such as rotating or restarting your iPhone or iPad. You can even perform multi-touch gestures with just a keyboard.
To enable this feature, visit Settings → Accessibility → Keyboards → Full Keyboard Access.
From there, you can customize any Full Keyboard Access shortcut to your liking, as well as change the default color, size and appearance of the selection rectangle which denotes the currently selected user interface element that will receive your input.
Modifier key remapping
iPadOS 13.4 lets you remap hardware modifier keys, such as Command (⌘) and Option (⌥).
If you use a physical iPad keyboard, you can rebind modifier keys to perform actions other than default so that Caps Lock can finally become Escape. It works for the Caps Lock (⇪), Control (⌃), Option (⌥), Command (⌘) and Globe keys on physical iPad keyboards.
With an external keyboard connected to your iPad, go to Settings → General → Keyboard → Hardware Keyboard → Modifier Keys and tap a modifier key to change its behavior.
iOS and iPadOS 13.4 tidbits
The iOS and iPadOS 13.4 updates pack in a bunch of under-the-hood refinements, feature improvements and small enhancements that will elevate your experience:
- CarPlay updates: New call controls for third-party apps, third-party navigation apps on a new dynamic dashboard, layout improvements, contextual panel sizing and more.
- Internet Recovery: Some devices can now get their firmware restore over the Internet.
- Location Services: Location Services have been tweaked in the iOS and iPadOS 13.4 updates to show different pop-up notifications under certain circumstances.
- New Memoji stickers: You get nine new Memoji stickers in the Messages app, including a person sitting behind a MacBook, smoke coming out of a person’s nose, a character rolling their eyes, shock or surprise, love, celebration and more.
- Mail toolbar: The toolbar in the Mail app has been tweaked more than once, with the Delete button repositioned to the far right and the Flag and Folder icons in the middle.
- New Shazam action: If you use the Shortcuts app, you can take advantage of a new Shazam It action for identify nearby songs and other media, as well as creatively implement Shazam’s rich results and metadata in your iOS automation workflows.
- Photos: New productivity keyboard shortcuts for faster navigation in the Photos app.
New features for developers
Last but not least, developers have a few new features to make their software better.
- Unified macOS/macOS apps: Developers can now deliver an app’s iPhone, iPad and Mac versions as a unified iOS/macOS download, making it easy for users to purchase an app only once and share any in-app purchases across platforms.
- CarKey API: With this API, developers can design apps that will allow your iPhone and Apple Watch to securely lock, unlock, lock and start NFC-equipped automobiles.
Other Apple OS updates
While this roundup is specifically dedicated to surfacing new user-facing features in both iOS and iPadOS 13.4, Apple today also released software updates for the Apple Watch and Apple TV devices. We’re listing those quickly right ahead for those interested in learning more.
New macOS Catalina 10.15.4 features
The macOS Catalina 10.15.4 packs in a few new features of its own:
- Communication Limits: The Screen Time feature in macOS Catalina 10.15.4 has been expanded to include Communication Limits capability, just like on iOS.
- Head Pointer: A new assistive feature for controlling the cursor with head movement.
New “head pointer” accessibility feature in 10.15.4. Control the cursor with head movements. pic.twitter.com/VJuZ2JR503
— Guilherme Rambo (@_inside) February 5, 2020
New watchOS 6.2 features
watchOS 6.2 brings a pair of new capabilities worth mentioning:
- OAUth logins: Aside from the existing “Sign in with Apple” login option, developers can now implement popular web-based logins in their apps, such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook and others, in order to simplify account creation and the signup process.
- In-app purchases: Apps built for watchOS 6.2+ can now use the In-App Purchase mechanism via the StoreKit API, allowing developers to build subscriptions, premium content, digital goods and more into their Apple Watch apps. And if an app is a universal iOS/macOS download, these in-app purchases get shared between platforms.
New tvOS 13.4 features
tvOS updates have traditionally been light on major new features.
We’d usually get half a dozen, maybe a dozen new capabilities with each major tvOS upgrade. Smaller updates tend to only squish bugs and improve performance, however, and tvOS 13.4 is no exception — there are no new user-facing Apple TV features for you in this update.
However, tvOS 13.4 code spelunking has indicated that the iPhone maker might be developing a new Apple TV 4K set-top box with updated processor and graphics.
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