Apple announced iOS 15, the newest version of its mobile operating system, at WWDC 2021. The software will eventually replace iOS 14 on compatible iPhone models, and adds new features and several changes to the overall look. The final release will come later in 2021, but the public beta can be downloaded and tried from June 30.
Whether you decide to download it or not, settle in while we explain what’s coming to an iPhone near you soon.
If you can’t wait until the end of the year to try iOS 15, there’s good news. Apple released the public beta version of the software on June 30, which means anyone with a compatible iPhone can download and install the software right now. It’s easy to do: Just visit Apple’s dedicated iOS 15 beta website and sign in, and Apple will guide you through the process to enroll your iPhone. Just be aware the software is not final, and some features may not work, some apps may not be compatible, and bugs may stop your phone from working normally. Therefore, it may not be suitable for the phone you use and rely on each day.
Now, let’s take a look at the features included in iOS 15.
Apple knows how important video calls and messaging are today, and it has announced a variety of new features for both FaceTime and Messages that are all built around SharePlay.
SharePlay is about listening, watching, and sharing together with friends and family. For example, during a FaceTime call, you can simply press play in Apple Music and listen to a song together, all synced up right from the start. Anyone on the call can play or pause, giving everyone control over the entertainment.
This also works with video, which can be streamed to an Apple TV at the same time, while always remaining in sync for callers. Apple’s SharePlay API will bring SharePlay to different apps, with Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, Twitch, and TikTok all among the partners. It’s also possible to share your iPhone’s screen with people on a call, letting everyone browse the web or even provide advice on how to change a setting.
Shared With You works throughout the iPhone, from Photos, News, and Podcasts to Safari, and lets you share articles, songs, and photos with friends as a message. Photos integrates shared photos from friends who have added you to friends and family on iCloud, and iOS 15 will sort photos with you in them and place them in your gallery. News shared with you in this way is placed at the top of your list, and you get reminders about who sent you the story.
Notifications in iOS 15 are changing a lot. The biggest visual change is the Notification Summary, a block shown on the lock screen with all your notifications ordered by priority for a cleaner, more useful look. To make sure you don’t miss anything important, the summary separates notifications and identifies those that can be addressed later, such as app reminders. It uses on-device intelligence to assess which apps you interact with often, and what’s important to you, to help prioritize.
The new Focus feature enhances the Notification Summary even further. You have the option to select between modes — Work, Personal, Sleep, and Do Not Disturb — so iOS 15 can prioritize notifications based on your circumstance. New widgets for the home screen let you see the notifications in your Focus mode. It can even be set to a location, and once you set your status, it automatically applies across all connected Apple devices. Throughout the notification system in iOS 15, look out for larger icons for apps and clearer text to make it easier to see what’s new and important.
Apple has introduced a text scanning feature to the iPhone’s camera, and then supercharged it. Live Text unlocks text-based information from photos and works with screenshots and online photos, too. When you take a photo, it recognizes text, which can be copied and pasted into an email or text message, or you can select text from an existing photo to search online. It also recognizes phone numbers, which can be called directly from the photo.
The new iOS 15 uses on-device intelligence to look closely at images. Visual Lookup lets you search a photo for information on art, books, nature, and landmarks. Elsewhere, Spotlight now searches for photos based on text, someone’s name, or even elements in a photo. You don’t even have to search for someone you know, as Spotlight also recognizes actors and other famous names.
Apple Music has been integrated into Memories, where iOS 15 will build more exciting, personal collages of photos and videos based on your activities. It now builds these short shows with Apple Music tracks personalized from your tastes and appropriate to the setting. Images are all timed to the beat.
To personalize them further, you can edit these using Memory Mixes to change the pacing, songs, and even the look using different filters. And iOS 15 continues to analyze the Memory and makes further recommendations on songs to use, all based on your personal tastes.
Apple Wallet already keeps hold of your payment cards, membership cards, and car keys. Now, it’s expanding to include hotel keys. Hyatt Hotels is one of the first partners and will soon bring to iOS 15 keys to 1,000 hotels around the world. Wallet will also take your work identity cards in iOS 15.
Your driver’s license will be the first personal identity document stored in Apple Wallet, where it will be encrypted and stored in the iPhone’s secure space. Apple stated that the Transportation Security Administration is working to accept the digital ID soon, and when you share it, a list of what will be accessed is shown. Apple wasn’t specific on when this feature would be added or whether the feature will be available outside the U.S.
The popular Weather app has been redesigned with new animations to show current conditions, more in-depth graphs to show what’s happening, and full-screen, high-resolution weather maps.
Apple is expanding Maps coverage to Spain and Portugal soon, and then Italy and Australia before the end of the year. It is also introducing an augmented reality (AR) view to a selection of cities before year’s end. It has been given a visual overhaul with an interactive globe overview. There are lots of new details, including custom-designed landmark icons, distances, elevation, and a night mode with a moonlight look.
Driving directions have been updated in iOS 15 with more granular details on the map, including bus lanes, crosswalks, bike lanes, and better guidance for complex junctions and turn lanes. Initially only for Maps on iOS, these changes will come to CarPlay later this year. For transit guidance, Maps will follow the route for you and remind you when it’s your stop.
- Pre-ordering the iPhone 13 tomorrow? Here are some tips and tricks you should know
- Android 12: Everything you need to know
- You probably won’t get Android 12’s coolest feature when it rolls out
- The best iPhone 13 Mini screen protectors
- How to block text messages on iOS and Android