News: Apple Releases iOS 14.4 for iPhone, Featuring New Apple Watch Face & Updates to Camera, Bluetooth & Privacy

Apple Releases iOS 14.4 for iPhone, Featuring New Apple Watch Face & Updates to Camera, Bluetooth & Privacy

Buckle up, iPhone users, because it's update time! Apple just released its latest iPhone OS to the public, iOS 14.4. This new edition isn't the company's most ground-breaking, but it doesn't come up short, either — you'll find support for smaller QR codes in Camera, a new "Device Type" setting in Bluetooth, support for a new Apple Watch face, and a major privacy feature, among other new changes.

QR code-scanning speaks for itself — you can now scan smaller QR codes with the Camera app. Easy enough! Device Type, however, is a cool feature to dive into — it allows you to assign your Bluetooth tech a specific label in iOS. Say you connect your iPhone to your car's Bluetooth. With Device Type, iOS will know this device isn't a pair of headphones, and likewise will not send you audio alerts for sounds that are much louder than the system would expect for headphones.

As for this privacy feature, Apple is finally activating the "Allow Apps to Request to Track" toggle in Settings. You could see this toggle in 14.3, but it wouldn't do anything. Now, the option lets you approve or deny an app's request to track your activity across other apps and sites. See our full guide on the feature for more info.

This latest update also patches three security vulnerabilities that affected all iPhones and iPads running iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, respectively. The kernel vulnerability could let a malicious app elevate privileges, and the WebKit vulnerability might have allowed a remote attacker to cause arbitrary code execution.

Two more features in 14.4 concern Apple's audio devices. HomePod and HomePod mini now support song sharing from closer distances. Previously, you needed to place your U1-enabled iPhone right next to your HomePod in order for playback to transfer, but now you can do so from a bit further away. You also see a cool pop-up window appear on your iPhone when you do so. AirPods Max now also have "Hey Siri" support.

This update also supports Apple's new "Unity" Apple Watch face, which features a red, green, and black color scheme as part of the company's celebration of Black history. This watch face requires watchOS 7.3, which Apple also released today.

Now, iOS 14.4 didn't just come out of the blue. We've tracked 14.4 throughout its short beta testing process, including two beta updates and one RC (release candidate). The RC is usually identical to the software that makes it out to the general public — Apple seeds it to beta testers before, however, just to make sure there aren't any last-minute issues that need to be addressed. It's easier to triage a problem on a small number of iPhones than to deal with the entire iOS community.

iOS 14.4 Release Notes

iOS 14.4 includes the following improvements for your iPhone:

  • Smaller QR codes can be recognized by Camera
  • Option to classify Bluetooth device type in Settings for correct identification of headphones for audio notifications
  • Notifications for when the camera on your iPhone is unable to be verified as a new, genuine Apple camera in iPhone 12, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max

This release also fixes the following issues:

  • Image artifacts could appear in HDR photos taken with iPhone 12 Pro
  • Fitness widget may not display updated Activity data
  • Typing may be delayed and word suggestions may not appear in the keyboard
  • The keyboard may not come up in the correct language in Messages
  • Audio stories from the News app in CarPlay may not resume after being paused for spoken directions or Siri
  • Enabling Switch Control in Accessibility may prevent phone calls from being answered from the Lock Screen

For information on the security content of Apple software updates, please visit this website:
support.apple.com/kb/HT201222

How to Download the Latest Version of iOS on Your iPhone

In order to run iOS 14.4, you need an iPhone compatible with iOS 14. That includes the following:

  • iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone 12 mini
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XS
  • iPhone 11, iPhone XR
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone 8, iPhone 7
  • iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone SE (2nd generation)
  • iPhone SE
  • iPhone 6S
  • iPhone 6S Plus
  • iPod touch (7th generation)

With your compatible iPhone in-hand, open Settings -> General -> Software Updates. Here, you should see iOS 14.4 appear. Now, follow the on-screen instructions to begin downloading and installing the new software. Note: if you have the 14.4 RC installed on your iPhone, you will not see an update, as this update and the RC are the same.

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Cover image and screenshots by Jake Peterson/Gadget Hacks

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