What’s new in iOS 15.4 beta 1? Mask ID, new emoji & more

The news: Apple just released the first beta of iOS 15.4 to developers…and it’s already a bigger update than all of iOS 15.3 that released earlier this week.

What’s new?

  • Face ID now works with masks and different glasses…even if you don’t own an Apple Watch
  • New emoji including melting face, low battery and interracial handshakes (via Emojipedia)
  • iOS 15.4 also introduces a new keyboard brightness option in Control Center (via MacRumors)
  • New Apple Card balance widget
  • iCloud Keychain now supports notes for logins
  • PS5 controllers now have adaptive trigger support
  • EU users can add their digital COVID-19 vaccination to the wallet app (via MacRumors)

iPhone 13 Face ID could work with foggy glasses and masks

The leak: Apple has been testing a prototype version of Face ID that would make significant improvements, according to Jon Prosser (74.3% accurate, via FrontPageTech.com).

  • The prototype, which currently exists as a case that an iPhone 12 fits inside, features a new Face ID array that is almost identical to the one that will likely be found on iPhone 13, suggesting that these improvements could ship as early as this year
  • “Internally, Apple employees are being asked to wear masks AND glasses to test the new hardware. Some tests are conducted with masks on / masks off. Others are conducted with glasses on / glasses off while wearing a mask” Prosser says

Our take: This is interesting, and would absolutely fix what is still Face ID’s Achilles heel: masks. The unlock with Apple Watch feature was a major step forward, but for everyone without an Apple Watch, wearing a mask with Face ID is still a bad experience. I’m not convinced this will actually happen on iPhone 13 with the testing occurring so recently, but on the 2022 iPhones…maybe.

Gurman: Most iPhones, iPads and Macs will get Face ID ‘within a couple of years’

The rumor: Apple is planning to add Face ID to most of their products over time, according to Mark Gurman (89.1% accurate).

  • “I’d bet Face ID on the Mac is coming within a couple of years. I expect all iPhones and iPads to transition to Face ID within that timeframe, too” Gurman says
  • Apple first unveiled Face ID in late 2017 on iPhone X, and has since expanded it to iPad Pro

Our take: I think Face ID makes the most sense on Mac and iPad, but I think a hybrid of Touch ID and Face ID on iPhone would be the best solution, long-term. That was supposed to happen on iPhone 13, but it looks like Apple has delayed the change…

Apple’s September 2021 event will again be virtual

The rumor: Apple isn’t ready to resume in-person gatherings just yet, according to Mark Gurman (89.1% accurate, via Power On).

  • “If all Apple employees were back in the office as originally planned, and if cases of infections were low, it’d be plausible to think Apple would be gearing up for its first in-person product event since 2019. Instead, expect another promotional video on Apple’s website and YouTube, plus a focus on online sales” Gurman says
  • Apple always holds an event each September to unveil new products, traditionally consisting of iPhone and apple Watch upgrades

Our take: I definitely think it’s safe to have a small, in-person gathering if employees and members of the media have been vaccinated and wear facial coverings. But considering that Apple recently delayed return-to-office plans, it doesn’t seem like they have any intention to do something other than another digital event. These digital events have been incredibly well-received, so is it possible that Apple never returns to their traditional format?