Apple Releases macOS Monterey 12.3, watchOS 8.5, tvOS 15.4, and HomePod Software 15.4

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Apple has today released macOS Monterey 12.3, watchOS 8.5, tvOS 15.4, and HomePod software 15.4 to the public.

Our testing suggests that the following issues have been addressed in macOS Monterey 12.3:

In addition, the following new issue has been identified:

At the time of posting, we are unaware of any fixes, enhancements or regressions for blind and low vision users in watchOS 8.5 or tvOS 15.4.

As we always stress, we can make no claims on the completeness or accuracy of our testing. We are only a small team, and it is simply impossible for us to test all devices, configurations, applications, and use cases. Accordingly, to help us ensure that the information on this page is as complete and accurate as possible, please let us know in the comments of any additional fixes; enhancements; or regressions that you find in your own use of these software versions.

New Features and Enhancements

Today's releases add a number of new features and enhancements, including new emoji, Universal Control, and a new US Siri voice.

As is common for Apple's major Spring releases, there are new emoji characters - 37 emoji and 75 skin tone additions for a total of 112 new characters.

According to MacRumors,“new faces include melting face, saluting face, face with open eyes and hand over mouth, face with peeking eye, face with diagonal mouth, and dotted line face, while new emojis include biting lip and bubbles.”

There are several new hand emojis, such as heart hands, rightwards hand, leftwards hand, palm down hand, palm up hand, hand with index finger and thumb crossed, index pointing at the viewer, along with an update to the handshake emoji.

Nest with eggs, empty nest, x-ray, crutch, playground slide, wheel, ring buoy, hamsa, mirror ball, jar, identification card, and low battery are new items, while plants and animals will include coral and lotus. As for fantasy characters, we can expect a new troll emoji, and eggs, beans, and pouring liquid make up new food items.

macOS Monterey 12.3 and iPadOS 15.4 bring support for Universal Control, which allows you to use a single cursor and keyboard to control the Macs and iPads that are signed into your iCloud account. This means that if you have a MacBook and an iPad, for example, the MacBook's trackpad and keyboard can be used to navigate and control the iPad.

We've not had an opportunity to test the operation of Universal Control with VoiceOver, so please share your own experience below of this feature. Is it compatible with VoiceOver? Does it allow for seamless transition between devices as it does for sighted users? We look forward to hearing your experiences.

According to 9to5Mac,, tvOS 15.4 and HomePod 15.4 add captive Wi-Fi network support:

Captive Wi-Fi network support on tvOS allows you to use your iPhone or iPad to connect your Apple TV to networks that need additional sign-in steps, like at hotels or dorms.

Not only that, but the Apple TV video player on tvOS 15.4 beta now has an “Up Next” queue that can be viewed from the “Now Playing” screen. From there, users can choose the content they have added to their Up Next queue. With just a tap, the app starts playing the movie or series you have chosen. That way, you don’t need to go back to the Apple TV app’s main screen to find the Up Next section and then select another content.

Apple is also bringing back the “Tap to Navigate” feature to the Physical and Motor options, after removing it in mid-August of 2021.

In addition, the company has also revamped the Spatial Audio controls with tvOS 15.4.

The final new feature we will mention here, is a new US Siri voice, simply labeled “America (Voice 5).” This voice is available on Mac and Apple Watch, and is less explicitly male or female, with Apple telling Axios that it hired “a member of the LGBTQ+ community” to record it.

Apple's release notes below set out what else is new and changed.

Release Notes

macOS 12.3 Release Notes

macOS 12.3 adds Universal Control so you can use a single mouse and keyboard across your Mac and iPad. This release also includes new emoji, dynamic head tracking for Music, and other features and bug fixes for your Mac.

Universal Control (beta)

  • Universal Control allows you to use a single mouse and keyboard across iPad and Mac
  • Text can be typed on either Mac or iPad and you can drag and drop files between them

Spatial Audio

  • Dynamic head tracking is available in Music with supported AirPods on Mac computers with the M1 chip
  • Customizable spatial audio settings for Off, Fixed, and Head Tracked are now in Control Center with supported AirPods on Mac computers with the M1 chip

Emoji

  • New emoji including faces, hand gestures, and household objects are available in emoji keyboard
  • Handshake emoji allows you to choose separate skin tones for each hand

This release also includes the following enhancements for your Mac:

  • Siri now includes an additional voice, expanding the diversity of options
  • Podcasts app adds episode filter for seasons, played, unplayed, saved, or downloaded episodes
  • Safari webpage translation adds support for Italian and Chinese (Traditional)
  • Shortcuts now supports adding, removing, or querying tags with Reminders
  • Saved passwords can now include your own notes
  • Battery capacity readings have improved accuracy

This release also includes bug fixes for your Mac:

  • News widgets in Today View may not open articles when clicked
  • Audio may sound distorted while watching video in the Apple TV app
  • Some photos and videos may be unintentionally moved when organizing albums in Photos

watchOS 8.5 Release Notes

watchOS 8.5 includes new features, improvements and bug fixes, including:

  • Ability to authorize Apple TV purchases and subscriptions
  • COVID-19 vaccination cards in Apple Wallet now support the EU Digital COVID Certificate format
  • Updates to irregular rhythm notifications designed to improve identification of atrial fibrillation. Available in the United States, Chile, Hong Kong, South Africa and many regions where the feature is available.
  • Audio hints in Fitness+ provide you with audio commentary of visually demonstrated moves during workouts (more on this here.

Outside of the major upgrade each year, tvOS updates are typically minor in scale with a focus on under-the-hood fixes and performance improvements. As Apple does not provide release notes for tvOS updates, we will have to wait and see if tvOS 15.4 does include any user facing changes further to those mentioned above. We will update this post if anything of note is discovered.

How to Update

To install macOS Monterey 12.3, choose System Preferences from the Apple menu, click the Software Update preference pane, and click the Update Now button to begin the update process. If other updates are available, you can click "More info" to see details about them and select specific updates to install.

More information on how to update the software on your Mac is available on this Apple Support page.

watchOS 8.5 is available via Over-the-Air Update (Settings > General > Software Update) or by going to the Watch app on your iPhone and navigating to General> Software Update. To install the update, your Watch must be connected to its charger and have at least 50% battery power.

More information on how to update the software on your Apple Watch is available on this Apple Support page.

To install tvOS 15.4 on Apple TV 4K or Apple TV HD, go to the Settings channel, then look for the System section near the bottom. From here, look for Software Updates under Maintenance, then select Update Software and Download and Install. Wait for your Apple TV to download the update. Don't disconnect or unplug your Apple TV until the update completes.

More information on how to update the software on your Apple TV is available on this Apple Support page.

By default, HomePod and HomePod mini automatically install new software updates, but you can manually check for updates in the Home app on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac. See this Apple support article for full instructions.

As always, we look forward to hearing your thoughts and experiences of the new features and enhancements in these releases, so please let us know by posting a comment below.

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Comments

Submitted by Marc on Tuesday, March 15, 2022

I upgraded to Mac OS 12.3. When I press the left/right arrows, I am unable to toggle Quick Nav. I went into VO Utility and everything is set properly in the Commanders tab. Any others experiencing this?

Submitted by Maldalain on Tuesday, March 15, 2022

I am not sure if this is a new braille feature in MacOS, but I noticed that when I scroll with my braille display whenever a text field is encountered dots seven and eight are raised to indicate this is a typing area, so for example when I open Google's home page, scrolling down to the Search area makes this happen. In previous releases it was only the blinking cursor indicator.

Submitted by Parham Doustdar on Thursday, April 28, 2022

Hi all,

I wonder if anyone else is facing this issue. Ever since updating to MacOS 12.3.1 on 2 devices, navigating on Google Calendar is broken. If I use the arrow keys or the tab key quickly, then the focus moves, but VoiceOver doesn't say anything. If I give it 3 seconds or so between each press, then it works.

This makes exploring my calendar sloooowwwww :-(