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Apple OS updates

Apple Releases macOS 12.3, iOS 15.4, and iPadOS 15.4

Apple released macOS 12.3, iOS 15.4, and iPadOS 15.4 on Monday, March 14, 2022. This is one of the more widely-anticipated software updates of past years. Why? The combined release brings Universal Control to the Mac and iPad.

Universal Control
Universal Control on macOS and iPadOS. (Image via Apple)

What’s Universal Control?

Apple’s Universal Control feature first received attention at last June’s World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC). Users with both Mac and iPad have a way to use a single mouse and keyboard to control both. Want to drag and drop content between devices? Universal Control makes it possible, with no setup required.

macOS Monterey 12.3
macOS Monterey 12.3

macOS 12.3

The update to macOS Monterey is BIG. On my MacBook Pro, it weighed in at 5.26GB and took over four hours to download.

To update your Mac, launch System Preferences and click Software Update. When the update appears, follow the instructions to download and install.

What’s in macOS 12.3?

Of course, Universal Control is the marquee feature of macOS 12.3, although listed as “beta” in the release notes. At least Apple is making this available for those who wish to try the feature.

Love to use emoji? There are 37 new emojis to choose from. These include faces, hand gestures, and household objects. The handshake emoji provides a way to select separate skin tones for each hand. Some of the new hand emojis include heart hands, palm down/up hands, rightwards/leftwards hands, hands with index finger and thumb crossed, and index pointing at the viewer.

A sampling of new emoji available in the updates

Those other objects? How about a nest with or without eggs, an x-ray, crutch, playground slide, wheel, ID card, or ring buoy? There’s a troll emoji, and food items get eggs, beans, and pouring liquid.

Do you listen to Apple Music on your Apple Silicon Mac while wearing supported AirPods? Dynamic head tracking now varies sound direction based on where your head is located with respect to the Mac. Control Center adds support for customization of spatial audio settings.

Enhancements and bug fixes

Apple also added:

  • A new voice for Siri
  • An episode filter in Podcasts for seasons, played, unplayed, saved or downloaded episodes
  • Italian and Chinese (Traditional) webpage translation on Safari
  • Adding, removing, or querying tags with Reminders in Shortcuts
  • Saved passwords can now include notes
  • Improved battery capacity readings

Of course, Apple always fixes a few bugs:

  • News widgets in Today view would occasionally not open when clicked.
  • Apple TV app video sounded distorted sometimes.
  • When organizing albums in Photos, some photos and videos unintentionally moved.
iOS 15.4

iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4

The latest update to Apple’s operating systems for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch includes a very welcome change—the ability to use Face ID while wearing a face mask (iPhone 12 and newer only). Even better, Apple Pay and password autofill in apps and Safari can be used with Face ID while wearing a mask.

Those new emojis described in the macOS 12.3 section are also available in iOS 15.4.

Use SharePlay? Sessions can now be initiated directly from supported apps. Siri gains the new voice found on macOS 12.3 and now provides time and date information while offline when using iPhone XS, XR, or 11 and newer.

For iPadOS 15.4, the big story is Universal Control. Come back soon to The Rocket Yard for a full tutorial describing how to use Universal Control.

To update your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to 15.4, launch Settings, tap on General, then tap on Software Update. Follow the posted instructions to download and install the update.

Enhancements and bug fixes

For users in EU countries, the EU Digital COVID Certificate is now supported in Health. This means users are able to download and store verifiable versions of COVID-19 vaccinations, lab results, and records of recovery. The COVID-19 vaccination cards in Apple Wallet support the EU Digital COVID Certificate format.

In addition to the enhancements seen in macOS 12.3, Apple also added:

  • Management of iCloud custom email domains from Settings
  • Enhanced discovery of audio content in the Today feed and Audio tab of News
  • Add text to Notes and Reminders using the Camera in keyboard
  • Emergency SOS settings are different: Call for Hold is used for all users, and Call with 5 Presses is still an option.
  • Close-up in Magnifier on iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max uses the ultra-wide camera
  • A new green wallpaper for iPhone 13 and 13 Pro
  • Anti-stalking warning message while setting up AirTags
  • New “Me” tab in Find My
  • Apple Wallet widget for seeing Apple Card card and available balances
  • iCloud Keychain no longer stores passwords without user names.
  • Shortcuts can be run without displaying a notification.
  • System icons in Shortcuts app are updated.
  • AirPlay 2-enabled Roku devices have an updated AirPlay icon for managing destinations in Control Center.

Bug fixes include:

  • There was an issue with keyboard inserting a period between typed numbers.
  • Today View News widgets did not open articles when tapped.
  • Photo and video syncing to iCloud Photo Library would not work.
  • Speak Screen feature quit unexpectedly in Books app.
  • Live Listen might not turn off when disabled in Control Center.
Steve Sande
the authorSteve Sande
Contributing Author
Steve has been writing about Apple products since 1986, starting on a bulletin board system, creating the first of his many Apple-related websites in 1994, joining the staff of The Unofficial Apple Weblog in 2008, and founding Apple World Today in 2015. He’s semi-retired, loves to camp and take photos, and is an FAA-licensed drone pilot.
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  • I need how to know to do upgrade my 8GB RAM for a Retina 4K, 21.5 inch, 2017 iMac that has macOS Monterey. What is the maximum upgrade for this iMac? Can I do this upgrade myself or do I need professional help?

  • There’s an iOS bug I keep hearing about, I’m curious if anyone knows if this update fixes it. If you do not use Two Factor Authentication you are FORCED to share Focus/Do Not Disturb across all of your devices. Even though your iPhone tells you that synchronizing Do Not Disturb REQUIRES Two Factor Authentication, it’s the exact opposite. If you don’t use Two Factor Authentication you have NO choice but to synchronize.

    I do not use Two Factor Authentication. According to the message on my iPhone, Focus Syncing is IMPOSSIBLE without Two Factor Authentication. Nevertheless, synchronizing they are.