A little over two months ago, Apple released the first beta versions of iOS 12.4 and watchOS 5.3 — late point releases for its 2018 iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch operating systems, which were expected to lay the groundwork for the Apple Card credit card offering this summer. Today, final versions of both releases are going live on Apple’s servers, but their release notes are a little less exciting.
According to Apple, one key feature of both iOS 12.4 and watchOS 5.3 is a security fix for the Apple Watch’s privacy-compromised Walkie-Talkie app, enabling users to resume using the push-to-talk feature. iOS 12.4 is adding a wireless data migration feature to aid old iPhone owners in transitioning to new phones, and updating the Apple News app to ease the process of finding subscription publications both online and downloaded offline.
Also as a part of iOS 12.4 — sometimes listed as HomePod Software 12.4 — Apple’s smart speaker HomePod, which continues to trickle out internationally, is getting localization support for Japan and Taiwan. watchOS 5.3 is adding ECG app and irregular heart rate notification support to Canada and Singapore, bringing the total number of regions with ECG access to over 30. The company has had to receive separate approvals for the feature from governments across the globe.
For the time being, Apple’s early release notes don’t mention the Apple Card. But an announcement of that major new feature’s availability would likely arrive in its own separate press release when it’s ready to launch, and Apple has apparently been filing international trademarks to prepare for Card releases outside the United States.
iOS 12.4 and watchOS 5.3 have been in development simultaneously with iOS 13 and watchOS 6, which are expected to ship in September alongside a new collection of Apple devices. iOS 12.4 is likely to be the last full point release to support both the iPad and iPhone, as Apple is splitting iPadOS off as its own tablet-specific operating system starting with iOS 13. It’s also the final version that will work on the sixth-generation iPod touch, which was replaced by a seventh-generation model in May.
The point releases are available starting today from Apple’s on-device software update mechanisms. tvOS 12.4 for the fourth-and fifth-generation Apple TV, Apple TV Software 7.3.1 for the third-generation Apple TV, and macOS Mojave 10.14.6 were also released today.