Thereâ€™s little doubt that using Face ID with a mask is the marquee feature in Appleâ€™s latest iOS 15.4 release. However, there are also quite a few interesting little things buried under the hood, beyond just the other big things like new emoji and Universal Control for the iPad and Mac.
Most of the iOS 15 point releases over the past several months have brought useful quality-of-life enhancements, and by now, thereâ€™s so much packed into iOS 15 that itâ€™s easy to forget all the smaller new features, so weâ€™ve rounded up a few of the more fascinating ones to help remind you. Read on for seven new things in iOS 15.4 that you may have missed.
Scan Text Directly into Notes
While the App Store is full of note-taking apps, we still like Apple Notes for its simplicity and tight integration, but donâ€™t let that clean sheet of yellow notepaper fool you â€” Appleâ€™s Notes app still packs in a lot of powerful features, and now thereâ€™s another cool one thatâ€™s been added in iOS 15.4.
Apple has brought the power of iOS 15â€™s Live Text feature directly into the Notes app, letting you quickly open the camera and scan whatever text it sees instantly into the current note. Hereâ€™s how:
- In Apple Notes, create a new note or open an existing one.
- In the toolbar above the keyboard, tap the Camera button.
- Tap Scan Text. The keyboard will be replaced with a camera view.
- Point at some text. A set of yellow brackets will highlight the currently selected text, which will also be previewed in your note.
- If you wish to select a different section of the text, tap on it in the camera view.
- When the text you want to add to your note is selected, tap the Insert button at the bottom to add it to the current note. You can also tap the â€œXâ€ in the top-right corner of the camera view if you change your mind and donâ€™t want to insert anything.
Whether itâ€™s a handwritten note, a receipt, product packaging, or even a whiteboard, itâ€™s a great way to capture information into your Notes app in an editable form.
Add Notes to Your Passwords in iCloud Keychain
While there are some great third-party password managers out there, the one Apple has built into iOS does a pretty good job if all you need is a place to store and manage your passwords â€” especially with some of the new features added in iOS 15.
For instance, you can now use it to store two-factor authentication credentials. It will even warn you about weak or compromised passwords, such as those revealed in data breaches. You can also use it even if youâ€™re not a Mac user â€” itâ€™s available for Windows PCs too.
Appleâ€™s password manager isnâ€™t a standalone app; instead, youâ€™ll find it in your iPhoneâ€™s Settings app, in a section appropriately labeled Passwords.
Appleâ€™s latest iOS 15.4 release adds two other handy features that round out Appleâ€™s built-in password manager. You can finally add notes to any of your passwords and hide any security recommendations you donâ€™t care about.
This lets you get rid of annoying alerts for passwords you canâ€™t change or those places where you aren't concerned with using complex passwords.
Start SharePlay Directly from Your Favorite Apps
With iOS 15.4, you donâ€™t need to start a FaceTime call to enjoy SharePlay with your friends. Now, you can kick off SharePlay directly from almost any supported app by using the standard iOS share sheet.
To do this, find whatever content you want to share, such as a movie or TV show in Appleâ€™s TV app or a playlist in Apple Music, and then tap the standard sharing button as you would for sending out a link.
If the app and content are compatible with SharePlay, youâ€™ll see a green â€œSharePlayâ€ button prominently shown above the usual sharing options. Tapping this will take you through the steps of selecting your friends for a FaceTime call. Once everyone has joined in, your chosen content will begin playing for everyone automatically.
Filter Your Podcast Episodes
With iOS 15.4, Apple has refined the Podcasts experience even further, with new filtering options to help you quickly drill down to only the episodes that you want to see.
Once youâ€™ve chosen a podcast, you can now filter the list to show only those episodes you havenâ€™t played yet, those youâ€™ve marked as saved, or those youâ€™ve downloaded to your iPhone or iPad. To do this, tap on the â€œEpisodesâ€ heading to display a selection menu or tap â€œSee Allâ€ to expand the list.
If the Podcast youâ€™re looking at has been divided into seasons, these will also appear in the filtering menu to let you see only the episodes from a specific season.
Manage Your Custom Domains in iCloud Settings
Alongside iOS 15 last year, Apple also introduced a new tier of iCloud+ services, available to anybody who is paying for iCloud Storage. This included the ability to finally use a custom domain with iCloud Mail.
Before iOS 15.4, setting this up required a trip to Appleâ€™s iCloud.com site in a desktop browser, but now Apple has added Custom Domains â€” and all the other iCloud+ Mail features â€” into a single unified screen among the rest of the iCloud settings on your iPhone. Hereâ€™s how to find it:
- On your iPhone, open the Settings app.
- Tap your name at the very top of the screen.
- Tap iCloud.
- Tap iCloud Mail.
- Tap Custom Email Domain.
From here, you can edit the settings for any domains youâ€™ve already set up or even add a new one. Some of these options will still bounce you over to Safari, but at least it will take you directly to the appropriate iPhone-optimized web page.
Run Automation Shortcuts Quietly
If you havenâ€™t tried automating things with Appleâ€™s Shortcuts app, you really should. It opens up a whole new world of possibilities, from customizing your charging sounds and making sure your AirPods are always connected to controlling what plays when you jump in the car. You can even change your watch faces based on time or location or use NFC tags to launch shortcuts, such as tapping your night table to run a bedtime routine.
As powerful as these shortcuts are, thereâ€™s been one small but persistent annoyance: every time an automation shortcut ran in the background, youâ€™d get a notification on your iPhone. While we can understand Appleâ€™s desire to make sure you know whatâ€™s going on behind the scenes, there are a lot of cases where it just gets in the way of having a seamless experience.
Fortunately, iOS 15.4 has finally addressed this. Youâ€™ll see a new â€œNotify when Runâ€ toggle when creating a new automation shortcut or editing an existing one. Switch this off, and your routine will become silent and unobtrusive.
Note that the â€œNotify when Runâ€ toggle only appears when Ask Before Running is switched off.
Quickly Play Your Favourite Apple Music Tracks
Thanks to new quick action shortcuts hidden behind the Music app icon, thereâ€™s an even faster way to listen to your â€œlife playlistâ€ in iOS 15.4.
Even though 3D Touch is gone, some of its best features live on. This includes bringing up contextual menus on your Home Screen icons, many of which offer shortcuts to frequently used actions. For example, the Camera app menu lets you take a selfie or record a video, while the Notes app provides quick actions for scanning documents and creating new notes.
With iOS 15.4, Apple Music also gains two new quick actions: Play Most Recent will start playing whatever you last listened to, while Play My Station will kick off a personalized radio station of music selected based on your listening habits and tastes.