iOS 15.5 and macOS 12.4 bring updates to podcasts, digital payments, and more.

Enlarge / Apple’s Studio Display received a firmware update today to improve the performance of its webcam.

Andrew Cunningham

Apple released new software updates for all of its platforms on Tuesday. This includes the following:

  • iOS 15.5 for iPhone and iPod touch
  • iPadOS 15.5 for iPad
  • macOS 12.4 for Mac
  • watchOS 8.6 for Apple Watch
  • tvOS 15.5 for Apple TV
  • HomePod Software 15.5 for HomePods
  • Studio Display Firmware 15.5 for the Studio Display
  • Swift Playgrounds 4.1 for iPad and Mac

These are almost certainly the last updates ahead of the company’s annual developer conference, which is due to begin on June 6. Among other things, Apple will announce iOS and iPadOS 16, macOS 13, and watchOS 9 at the conference, but those updates won’t arrive until later this year.

iOS 15.5

Today’s iOS update delivers just enough new user-facing features to earn that 15.x tag instead of 15.xx, which is usually reserved for bug fixes and the like.

All in all, though, it’s a small update. The built-in Podcasts app gets “a new setting to limit the episodes stored on your Mac and automatically delete older ones.”

And 15.5 allows the iPhone to be used as a point-of-sale device without any additional hardware, as reported in February.

Previously, vendors like farmers market stalls and home repair services used iPhones with add-on hardware attached from companies like Stripe to receive payments.

Now the iPhone no longer needs these attachments. Stripe works great with an iPhone fresh out of the box.

Additionally, iOS 15.5 brings safety features to the Messages app intended to prevent children from being exposed to inappropriate content in the following new countries:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • New Zealand
  • UK
  • United States

macOS 12.4

On the macOS side, Apple names only two user-facing changes in its release notes. It adds support for Studio Display firmware update 15.5 (which claims to improve webcam performance on Apple’s new monitor), and the built-in Podcasts app gets the same new functionality as iOS.

However, macOS 12.4 includes more than 50 security updates under the hood, according to Apple’s support documentation.

watch OS 8.6

watchOS 8.6 is a relatively minor update. It extends some of the watch’s health features, namely irregular heartbeat detection and ECG, to Apple Watch users in Mexico.

Other Updates

Studio Display Firmware 15.5 attempts to address some user complaints about monitor webcam quality. Apple has not shared any details about the contents of the HomePod firmware update or tvOS 15.5.

There is also Swift Playgrounds 4.1 for Mac and iPad. It’s not an OS update, but it landed around the same time. It lets users use Playgrounds to build apps with SwiftUI on Mac, and it deepens App Store Connect integration for app publishing, among other things.

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Steven L. Nielsen