iOS 15.4 is now available with easier Face ID unlocking, Universal Control and more

Apple has released iOS 15.4 for the iPhone and iPod touch, as well as iPadOS 15.4 for iPads, bringing new features such as unlocking your iPhone with a mask on.

Use Face ID on iPhone while wearing a mask

How to install iOS 15.4 on your iPhone

You can download and install iOS 15.4 on your iPhone or iPod touch, and iPadOS 15.4 on your iPad, using the same Software Update mechanism in the Settings app that you regularly use to install Apple’s over-the-air updates.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Choose “General” from the root list.
  3. Touch the option labeled “Software Update.”
  4. If you see an option to update to iOS 15.4, hit “Install Now”.

If the iOS 15.4 update hasn’t been downloaded in the background yet, you’ll see “Download and Install” instead. After the update is downloaded, you’ll need to enter your passcode before you can install it. Be sure that your device is plugged into power and connected to the internet with Wi-Fi.

Using Face ID while waring a mask is finally easier

Apple has been testing these updates since January.

Both iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4 include an overdue feature that permits you to unlock your iPhone using Face ID while wearing a mask—without having to wear or own an Apple Watch. The feature works by scanning the areas around your eyes for authentication (regular Face ID focuses on your mouth and nose).

Before iOS 15.4, you could unlock the device while wearing a mask so long as you were wearing an Apple Watch on your wrist. With iOS 15.4’s enhanced Face ID, this is finally a thing of the past. Our resident videographer Harris Craycraft has put together a little walkthrough video explaining how to use this feature.

iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4 also include other noteworthy improvements.

Other new features in iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4

For example, both iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4 include iOS 15.4 37 new emoji characters along with more than 70 new skin tone additions. There are more than 100 new additions, all told. That includes a brand new melting face, a face with a hand over the mouth, and others.

There’s also Universal Control, another feature that didn’t make the cut for the initial release, which lets you control Macs and iPads with the same keyboard and trackpad, with the cursors seamlessly traveling across multiple screens.

Saved passwords can now include your own notes. For iPad users, there’s now a slider in Control Center to adjust keyboard brightness. A brand new Apple Card widget displays not only your spending activity but also your total balance. Read: How to use the built-in two-factor authentication code generator on your iPhone

iOS 15.4 release notes

Apple mentions these improvements in the changelog for the iOS 15.4 update:

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


  • New emoji including faces, hand gestures and household objects are now available in the 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

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

Quality-of-life improvements

  • 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
  • The News app offers an enhanced discovery of audio content in the Today feed and Audio tab
  • The camera in the keyboard can be used to add text to Notes and Reminders
  • The Shortcuts app 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 the Magnifier app 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

Aside from the above enhancements, iOS 15.4 includes these bug fixes:

  • The keyboard may insert a 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

For more info on the security content of iOS 15.4, read Apple’s support document.