IPHONE owners are being urged to update their devices after Apple rolled out a critical software patch this week.
In addition to a handful of new features, iOS 15.4 fixes a staggering 39 security issues, some of which are critical.
What bugs does iOS 15.4 fix?
The major update rolled out worldwide on Monday and mends several bugs and vulnerabilities in the iPhone software.
In its patch notes, Apple lists 39 fixes made to the operating system that could potentially be exploited by hackers.
It does not give much detail on the nature of the vulnerabilities – a standard industry practice that's intended to protect users.
Among the bugs fixes are a number of issues with WebKit, the engine that powers Apple’s Safari browser.
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Vulnerabilities were also found with a computer program at the core of the operating system called the Kernel.
According to Apple, an exploitation of those vulnerabilities could allow malicious apps to take control of parts of the device.
What's new in iOS 15.4?
The first big update is support for Apple's Face ID facial recognition with a mask on.
It comes quite late, around two years after the Covid-19 pandemic began – so fans have been desperate for a while.
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You opt into the feature, allowing the iPhone's Face ID to scan unique features around your eyes.
Not only does it let you unlock your iPhone, but also enables Apple Pay transactions and password auto-fill in apps and Safari.
This new feature is only available on the iPhone 12 or later however, so anyone with an older iPhone is out of luck.
Apple has also rolled out a new voice for Siri – on the English language setting, anyway.
It's got an "incredibly natural sound" according to Apple, which is possible thanks to new text-to-speech technology.
There are 37 new emoji including a "pregnant man" icon – find the full new emoji list here.
You can also choose separate skin tones for each hand in the handshake emoji for the first time ever.
Apple has tweaked how SharePlay works in FaceTime.
The feature was added in iOS 15.1, letting you stream movies, TV shows and music in sync with pals or family over FaceTime.
Previously you could only start SharePlay on FaceTime.
But it's now possible to begin a SharePlay session directly from a supported app – like Apple TV+, Disney+ or TikTok.
What iPhones are compatible with iOS 15.4?
The update is available to anyone with an iPhone 6S and later, as well as 7th generation iPod touch owners.
If you're using an iPhone that can't update to iOS 15.4, it's important that you consider upgrading.
Moving to a newer iPhone means you'll be able to get the latest security updates.
Using older models that can't update with the latest security fixes is a major risk – and one that shouldn't be taken lightly.
How to update to iOS 15.2.1
If you have a compatible device and your iPhone hasn't automatically updated then you can download iOS 15.4 by following a few simple steps.
Before you get started, make sure your iPhone is backed up and that you're connected to WiFi.
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Open Settings, tap "General" and then "Software Update".
The update may appear on the screen if it's ready for your phone and you can tap "Install Now" to get it.
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