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Following a 1.5-month beta testing period and a 3-month gap between point releases, Apple today officially released versions 13.4 of iOS, iPadOS, and tvOS to the public, alongside macOS 10.15.4 and watchOS 6.2. While many of their improvements are minor, there are a few standout features across the updates.
One of the most noteworthy additions is a dramatic expansion of iPadOS 13’s prior trackpad and mouse support, which was limited solely to an Accessibility option before evolving to full system-wide support across all iPad models capable of running iPadOS 13.4. Now, keyboard-trackpad hybrids (such as the upcoming Magic Keyboard for iPad), standalone trackpads, and standalone mice can create a cursor that highlights and selects on-screen text and objects, paving the way for more Mac-like apps on Apple’s tablets.
Another major improvement is cross-platform support for a new universal app purchase option, enabling a single app developed using Apple’s shared Catalyst framework to be purchased and run across Macs, iPhones, iPads, and Apple TVs. This feature went live for developers yesterday, and it uses the iOS App Store as the base for universal apps. Standalone Mac App Store app listings will likely need to be abandoned for the transition to universal apps.
Apple is also adding Wallet app support for AliPay, the Alibaba-developed digital payment solution used by 50% of China’s population, and a CarKey feature that will enable the locking, unlocking, and operation of some NFC-equipped cars using individual or shareable iPhone-stored vehicle keys — a major expansion of the device’s generally locked-down NFC capabilities. BMW is among the car makers already on board with the feature.
The updates also include multiple small tweaks to apps such as Photos, TV, and Messages’ Memoji stickers, such as a wider range of pre-rendered facial and body expressions to use when sending messages. Folders stored in iCloud Drive can be shared, and watchOS 6.2 is adding support for in-app purchases, which previously required assistance from an iPhone.
Each of the updates can be downloaded from Apple’s Software Update mechanisms, located in the Settings apps of iPhones, iPads, Apple TVs, and Apple Watches, or in System Preferences on the Mac. This may be the final point release update for these operating systems ahead of the online-exclusive WWDC 2020, which is scheduled for June.
Updated at 10:25 a.m. Pacific: Apple has just released Xcode 11.4, its development suite for third-party apps across all of these platforms, as an 8.1GB download for registered developers. While updates to Xcode aren’t generally of interest to end users, this particular release is important because it enables developers to support iPadOS trackpad and mouse cursors, meaning that cursor input optimization work for existing third-party apps can begin today.
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