Next week, Apple will roll out the latest iOS update, which includes the Tap to Pay feature that turns an iPhone into a point-of-sale terminal and a Face ID update that recognizes people even when wearing masks.
On March 18, iOS 15.4 will arrive alongside the green-colored model of the iPhone 13 and the alpine green iPhone 13 Pro, Apple said this week at its first product event of the year. The iOS 15.4 version has been available in beta since January.
Tap to Pay will let a person using the iPhone XS or any device released later accept payments by tapping a contactless credit or debit card on the device. The feature works with American Express, Discover, Mastercard and Visa.
The payment feature uses near-field communication (NFC) technology, a short-range wireless connectivity standard, to interact with other contactless devices. NFC uses magnetic field induction to communicate when devices touch or are a few centimeters away from each other.
Stripe will become the first payment app to support Tap to Pay. Stripe, used by point-of-sale app maker Shopify, will be joined by other payment processors later in the year, according to Apple.
Starting with iOS 15.4, people will be able to use their iPhone for identification by storing their driver's license or state ID in Apple's Wallet app. Apple promised the feature when it released iOS 15 last September.
The updated Face ID comes after almost three years of a COVID-19 pandemic that forced people to wear masks. Many Reddit and Twitter users complained that facial recognition failed to unlock their iPhone when they were wearing a mask.
In a previous update, Apple let people verify their identity to unlock the iPhone using an Apple Watch. With iOS 15.4, people won't need an Apple Watch.
Along with Face ID and Tap to Pay, iOS 15.4 includes 37 new emojis, including a melting face, a pregnant man and a multiracial handshake, and additional language support for Visual Lookup. The latter suggests search terms for photo content, such as a picture of a dog bringing up the option to search for "dog" online.
There will also be a fifth U.S. English Siri voice option that Apple confirmed will be recorded by a member of the LGBTQ+ community. The voice will sound less gendered, Axios reported.
Analysts expect iPadOS 15.4, macOS 12.3, tvOS 15.4 and watchOS 8.5 to roll out on March 18 as well because their betas were all released simultaneously.
Maxim Tamarov is a news writer covering mobile and end-user computing. He previously wrote for The Daily News in Jacksonville, N.C., and the Sun Transcript in Winthrop, Mass. He can be found on Twitter at @MaximTamarov.