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Apple Releases iOS 15.5, iPadOS 15.5, macOS 12.4, watchOS 8.6, tvOS 15.5, and HomePod Software 15.5

With WWDC and the announcement of Apple’s operating systems for 2022 coming in a few weeks (see “WWDC 2022 Stays Virtual Starting June 6,” 5 April 2022), it’s likely that today’s releases of iOS 15.5, iPadOS 15.5, macOS 12.4 Monterey, watchOS 8.6, tvOS 15.5, and HomePod Software 15.5 are the last ones we’ll see that include new features. These aren’t major releases, but they include some small new features in the Podcasts and Wallet apps, along with a few bug fixes and numerous security improvements, although none for vulnerabilities that are being actively exploited.

Unless you’re running into an issue that Apple has explicitly addressed, you can wait a week or so to install these updates.

iOS 15.5 and iPadOS 15.5

In iOS 15.5 and iPadOS 15.5, the Podcasts app on the iPhone and iPad finally lets you limit how many episodes are stored on your device and automatically purges older ones so Podcasts doesn’t eat up your storage space. Hopefully, that will address the issues I highlighted in “Prevent Apple’s Updated Podcasts App from Eating Your Storage” (4 May 2021). Go to Settings > Podcasts, scroll down to Automatic Downloads, and tap the new Automatically Download option. You can set it to keep up to 10 new episodes or all episodes over a given amount of time.

The Automatic Downloads setting in Podcasts in iOS 15.5

On the iPhone, the Wallet app also now lets you send and receive money using your Apple Cash card, and the iOS 15.5 update fixes a bug that could cause automations triggered by people arriving or leaving to fail. The updates include 27 security fixes.

macOS 12.4 Monterey

Like the iOS and iPadOS updates, macOS 12.4 Monterey now provides an Automatically Download setting in Podcasts > Preferences that lets you limit how much storage the Podcasts app consumes. Universal Control is now out of beta, though Apple says nothing about what might have changed.

macOS 12.4 also includes support for the separate Studio Display Firmware 15.5, which reportedly somewhat improves the disappointing video quality. The macOS 12.4 update includes 54 security fixes.

Monterey 12.4 release notes

watchOS 8.6

The watchOS 8.6 update reportedly includes improvements and bug fixes, but the only ones that Apple is willing to share are the presumably regulatory approvals that allow it to provide the ECG app and irregular heart rhythm notifications to users in Mexico. It includes 18 security fixes.

watchOS 8.6 release notes

tvOS 15.5 and HomePod Software 15.5

For Apple’s dedicated entertainment devices, the Apple TV and HomePod, tvOS 15.5 and HomePod Software 15.5 receive nothing more than “general performance and stability updates.” Neither needs any security updates, at least as far as Apple says.

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Comments About Apple Releases iOS 15.5, iPadOS 15.5, macOS 12.4, watchOS 8.6, tvOS 15.5, and HomePod Software 15.5

Notable Replies

  1. Watch 8.6 won’t “verify” for me for my SE watch. The iPhone downloads the update but then gives a message that it is unable to verify the update because it claims (inaccurately) that it cannot connect to the internet. Hopefully it won’t brick the watch!
    Another annoyance is that the AppleTV app needed to be quit and restarted on my iPad in order to see downloaded items.

  2. There is no way for you to know that statement is inaccurate unless you know the exact URL of the Apple server/CDN that it needs to contact in order to verify the download. It’s also not unusual at all for the Apple servers & CDNs to be slammed on a day like today when virtually ever current Apple OS and Safari apps to be released, so could be contention or perhaps your CDN had not been updated yet. Just keep trying.

  3. I’d also suggest restarting both the phone and the watch. That often solves weird problems like this.

  4. Restarting the watch worked (or the Apple servers were no longer over-loaded). Thank you.
    BTW - the error message that there was no internet connection was misleading if, indeed, the Apple servers were not responding - I knew I had a good connection.

  5. When we wrote this article, Apple hadn’t posted any security notes for watchOS 8.6 and tvOS 15.5, so we assumed there were no fixes. That was optimistic, and those security notes are now available. Even more annoying from our perspective is that we recommended waiting to install these updates since even the security fixes that were shared weren’t actively being exploited. But in fact, once Apple published the security notes for watchOS and tvOS, it became clear that they fixed an actively exploited vulnerability that Apple had blocked in iOS and iPadOS at the end of March in 15.4.1.

    The moral of the story is not to delay too long in installing these watchOS and tvOS updates, since the previous versions are vulnerable.

  6. This Monterey Update finally addresses the bug that I’ve observed since installing it on my M1 Macbook Pro.

    Since Monterey, the Firewall needed to be turned off before Remote Management/Screen Sharing would work. The Firewall could then be turned on again while the Sharing session was in progress, but only for that session.

    I just tested it out now, and everything works as it should.

  7. I’m so sick and tired of buggy releases from Apple.

    So after 12.4 I can no longer use TM on this 14" MBP. Great. Just great.

    I get a silly warning saying there is no disk to backup and that I should remove the TM disk from the exclusion list. WTF? Oh well, guess I’ll try that. Except in that list, the backup disk is grayed out. Awesome Apple. While I’m in there, I also see my boot disk listed there. WTF??? Never put it there myself. Anyway, I remove that. TM still won’t back up. Restart Sys Prefs. No change. Reboot Mac, no change. Except now boot disk is again listed in exclusion list. Figure I’ll just nuke plist file. Oh shucks, no more plist file exists. Argh. Instead I’ll try tmutil isexcluded which indeed shows TM disk as excluded. So off to sudo tmutil removeexclusion -v /Volumes/TMDisk which then returns error 22. Argh.

    Turns out, I need to go to the add backup disk list and reselect the attached TM disk to get it to back up. BTW, TM disk and boot disk are still listed to be excluded. But I’m backing up from one to the other as I write this. Ugh.

    Apple, for Pete’s sake fix your broken ****.

  8. in the last few days many websites stopped loading. some didn’t load at all and some only in part

    at first I thought culprit was my ISP (had a few minutes blackout days ago), then my router, my MBP, some Safari setting, some 1Blocker setting, Pi-Hole…
    checked/reset/rebooted all of them to no avail

    then… found this: https://www.reddit.com/r/pihole/comments/utab8p/safari_wont_finish_loading_certain_sites_after/

    thank you indeed once more, Apple! :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:
    (btw… Monterey on an M1 MBP is the most unstable OS ever! been using Macs since the early '90s)

  9. In MacOS 12.4 Apple suddenly abandoned its traditional use of country flags for many of the keyboard layouts available in System Preferences > Keyboard > Input Sources, replacing all of them (including the US flag) with black/white squares containing letters to indicate the language. Some users have complained about the resulting decrease in legibility. If you want them back, you can try installing a custom layout with the Ukelele app. Or use the YouType app.

    This change also means Ukrainian and other users typing Russian text no longer need to look at the Russian flag on their screen,

    For more info:

    https://discussions.apple.com/docs/DOC-250005181

  10. So one tiny improvement I noticed after I installed 12.4: Open Safari windows remember their assigned Space across a reboot. Yay! Before now, they all hopped over to Space 1, and I had to dutifully drag them back to the Space I wanted them. Sometimes it’s the little things…

  11. This is a question that I absolutely have no need to know the answer to, except I’m curious. Is there any place that describes what goes on when you run a software update on iOS or macOS? It’s obviously busy doing lots of stuff and I keep wondering what it’s doing.

  12. You just have to trust that Apple knows what it is doing! Uh-oh…

  13. Should I now update to macOS 12.4? I am running macOS 12.3 on an Intel iMac.

  14. A lot more going on with updating these macOS releases than older versions - especially in Big Sur and Monterey

    If I understand correctly, a macOS update updates more than simply the operating system. The Recovery volume as well as other components involved in the boot process are updated. Also consider that signatures for the system volume / sealed system volume snapshot have to be updated as well. That’s in addition to any Intel or T2 “firmware” updates on Intel Macs.
    I think Howard Oakley has some articles on his eclecticlight.co site that do more justice to the topic than my statement above. .

  15. Yes, I haven’t heard of any reasons to avoid it.

  16. It appears that since updating my iPad to iPadOS 15.5, that I am getting a tab on the side of the page in my apps to pull open Safari. This becomes a pain, because it blocks items I want tap in the app (such as the page back button when reading the paper). This may be a something I set accidentally, but I’d like to know how to turn it off. I have a number of browsers on my iPad and seldom use Safari, however, it is still set as my default browser.

  17. You’ve put Safari in slide over mode. To close it, slide it over (e.g., make it appear). Tap the three dots at the top of the slide over window and then tap the left-hand option to make Safari a full-sized window. That should stop the slide over control from appearing.

    When you tap those three dots on any app that supports multitasking, the option on the right puts the app that is currently open into slide over mode. You probably accidentally activated that at some point, maybe when you were trying to activate the address bar just below that control (which I’ve done several times.)

  18. Thanks, Doug you were correct . I remember one night playing a little with the multitasking. That must have been when I set.

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