What just happened? Apple's recent track record of buggy software updates has been far from stellar, that's likely why the company went with six developer betas before coming out with the latest public release of its operating systems. These include iOS/iPadOS 13.4, macOS Catalina 10.15.4, watchOS 6.2 and tvOS 13.4, with the updates packing several productivity features and bug fixes for Apple's extensive (and growing) product lineup.
The cost of adding more features, along with added bells and whistles has been rather high for Apple. iOS 13 in particular didn't go as planned and had the company scrambling until the last minute. This reportedly forced them to modify its iOS development process for future updates. With this latest update going live on multiple platforms simultaneously, Apple has applied some extra polish as the margin for error for major bugs becomes narrower, including plenty of bug fixes for iPhone/iPad/Mac users in this release.
Apple's iCloud Drive gains a much-needed folder sharing feature, allowing users to share folders from the Files app either through explicit invites or a public link, with other iCloud users.
The Mail app gets a revised button layout with always-visible controls to delete, move, reply, or compose an email. The new design improves on the old one which made it easier to accidentally delete messages.
For users on the move, CarPlay now supports third-party navigation apps as well as display in-call information on the CarPlay dashboard. Being able to use alternative navigation apps is certainly a welcome feature and hints at Apple's changing outlook on third-party software.
Other updates include nine new Memoji stickers, universal purchase support for participating apps in the App Store and a minor redesign to the Apple Arcade tab.
iOS 13.4 also adds a status bar indicator for all-screen models (iPhone X and later) to notify users of VPN disconnection, while bug fixes in this update address issues like the Camera app showing a black viewfinder upon launch, excessive storage usage and image sharing problems with Photos app, usability issues with Mail, along with fixes to CarPlay, Safari, Settings, Reminders, and Home app.
The iPad received rudimentary mouse support with iOS 13 back in June last year, however, the latest update brings proper mouse and trackpad functionality that's optimized for the tablet's touch interface. Apple just launched the 4th-gen iPad Pro demonstrating the functionality with the new Magic Keyboard accessory (arrives in May) and with this update, users of older iPads will also be able to take some of the advantages on offer.
Multi-Touch gestures on the iPad, for instance, are only supported on the Magic Mouse 2, Magic Trackpad 2, and the Magic Keyboard, while the latter accessory itself is limited to the iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd-gen or later) and iPad Pro 11-inch (1st-gen or later).
Thankfully, all iPads getting this update will work with older peripherals like the 1st-gen Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad, as well as support third-party products over Bluetooth and USB.
As expected, all the aforementioned feature updates for the iPhone are headed to the iPad as well, along with related bug fixes and added improvements to the on-screen keyboard.
macOS Catalina 10.15.4
Mac users can now use Finder to share their iCloud Drive folders and can set iOS-like Screen Time limits on FaceTime and Messages. Those looking to decide between Google Chrome and Safari will now find it easier to switch to the latter as Apple's browser will now let users import Chrome passwords into their iCloud Keychain.
Owners of the Pro Display XDR will receive customized reference modes, allowing them to adjust values like color gamut and luminance, provided they have updated their monitor firmware to version 2.2.2.
Bug fixes and improvements in this update include the following:
- High Dynamic Range output to HDR10-compatible third-party displays and TVs connected with DisplayPort or HDMI
- OAuth authentication support with Outlook.com accounts for improved security
- CalDav migration support when upgrading to iCloud reminders on a secondary device
- Resolves an issue where text copied between apps may appear invisible when Dark Mode is active
- Fixes an issue in Safari where a CAPTCHA tile may display incorrectly
- Resolves an issue where Reminders may send notifications for completed reminders
- Fixes an issue with screen brightness for the LG UltraFine 5K display after waking from sleep
Owners of Apple Watch Series 1 and later can now purchase in-app items and should no longer experience music playback issues when switching between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
The smartwatch's useful ECG feature, which arrived with Series 4 along with its irregular heart rhythm notifications, expands to three more countries with this update namely Chile, New Zealand, and Turkey.
This update brings Family Sharing integration to 4th- and 5th gen Apple TV models along with minor interface improvements to the app.
Apple also issued security updates for macOS Catalina 10.5.4, Mojave 10.14.6 and High Sierra 10.13.6. These cover issues related to kernel, Bluetooth, graphics, FaceTime and Mail, among others.
Devices on iOS 12.4.6 also received a security update with no published CVE entries from the company.