Apple today unveiled iOS 15, its upcoming update to the iOS mobile operating system for the iPhone. The new OS features improvements to Messages, new video calling capabilities, and much more.
iOS 15 Notifications
iOS 15 Notifications have been revamped, adding contact photos for people and larger icons for apps that make them even easier to identify. A new notification summary helps reduce distractions by collecting non-time-critical notifications for delivery at a more opportune time, such as in the morning and evening.
Using on-device intelligence, notifications are arranged by priority, with the most relevant notifications rising to the top, and based on a user’s interactions with apps. Urgent messages will be delivered immediately, so important communications will not end up in the summary, and it’s easy to temporarily mute any app or messaging thread for the next hour or for the day.
iOS 15 FaceTime
With iOS 15, FaceTime conversations with friends and family feel even more natural. With spatial audio, voices in a FaceTime call sound as if they are coming from where the person is positioned on the screen, and new microphone modes separate the user’s voice from background noise. Inspired by portrait photos taken on iPhone, Portrait mode is now available for FaceTime and designed specifically for video calls, allowing users to blur their background and put themselves in focus. In Group FaceTime, a new grid view enables participants to see more faces at the same time.
FaceTime is no longer restricted to Apple devices, as users can now create a shareable link to a scheduled video call, allowing Android and Windows devices to join FaceTime calls through the browser.
SharePlay allows users to listen to songs together with Apple Music, watch a TV show or movie in sync, or share their screen to view apps together while connecting with friends on FaceTime. SharePlay works across iPhone, iPad, and Mac, and offers shared playback controls, allowing anyone in a SharePlay session to play, pause, or jump ahead.
SharePlay even extends to Apple TV, so users can watch shows or movies on a big screen while connecting over FaceTime, and SharePlay will keep everyone’s playback in sync. Disney+, ESPN+, HBO Max, Hulu, MasterClass, Paramount+, Pluto TV, TikTok, Twitch, and many others are integrating SharePlay into their apps — creating entirely new ways to connect.
iOS 15 Focus Tools
Focus filters notifications and apps based on what a user wants to focus on. Customers can set their device to help them be “in the moment” by either selecting a suggested focus or by vreating their own custom focus. Focus uses n-device intelligence to suggest which people and apps are allowed to notify them. Focus suggestions are based on users’ context, like during their work hours or while they’re winding down for bed, and when Focus is set on one Apple device, it automatically applies to their other Apple devices.
Users can create Home Screen pages with apps and widgets that apply to moments of focus to only display relevant apps and reduce temptation. When a user’s Focus is blocking incoming notifications, their status is automatically displayed to others in Messages, reflecting that a user is not currently reachable.
iOS 15 Photos
Photos will feature a “Live Text” feature that allows users to highlight and select text in images, allowing users to copy the text and copy it into text files, emails, messages, and other apps.
Photos will also show up in iOS 15 Spotlight searches and Apple Music, which uses on-device intelligence to personalize song suggestions that bring memories to life.
iOS 15 Wallet
iOS 15 adds additional key types to the Wallet app, including hotel room keys, corporate badges, and keys for home smart locks.
Later this year, customers in participating states in the US will be able to add their driver’s license or state IDs to Wallet. The Transportation Security Administration is working to enable airport security checkpoints as the first place customers can use their digital Identity Card in Wallet. Identity Cards in Wallet are encrypted and safely stored in the Secure Element, the same hardware technology that makes Apple Pay private and secure.
iOS 15 Weather
iOS 15 Weather includes more graphical displays of weather data, full-screen maps, and dynamic layouts that change based on conditions. Redesigned animated backgrounds more accurately reflect the sun’s position and precipitation, and notifications highlight when rain or snow starts and stops.
iOS 15 Notes
Notes adds user-created tags that make it easy to quickly categorize notes, and mentions allow members of shared notes to notify one another of important updates. An all-new Activity view shows the recent history of a shared note.
Additional iOS 15 Features
- Siri adds Announce Notifications on AirPods, the ability for users to share what’s on their screen just by asking, and more.
- Shared with You works across the system to find the articles, music, TV shows, photos, and more that are shared in Messages conversations, and conveniently surfaces them in apps like Photos, Safari, Apple News, Music, Podcasts, and the Apple TV app, making it easy to quickly access the information in context.
- iCloud+ combines everything users love about iCloud with new premium features, including Hide My Email, expanded HomeKit Secure Video support, and an innovative new internet privacy service, iCloud Private Relay, at no additional cost. Current iCloud subscribers will be upgraded to iCloud+ automatically this fall. All iCloud+ plans can be shared with people in the same Family Sharing group, so everyone can enjoy the new features, storage, and elevated experience that comes with the service.
- The Health app gets a new sharing tab that lets users share their health data with family, caregivers, or a care team, Trends gives users a way to focus attention on meaningful changes in personal health metrics, and Walking Steadiness is a new metric that empowers people to proactively manage their fall risk.
- HomeKit accessory makers can now enable “Hey Siri” in their products, allowing customers to talk to and get responses from Siri on third-party devices. “Hey Siri”-enabled accessories will relay requests through HomePod or HomePod mini and will support features such as Personal Requests, Intercom, timers, and alarms. Starting today, smart home device manufacturers can begin working with Apple to integrate Siri into their accessories.
- Find My introduces new capabilities to help locate a device that has been turned off or erased, as well as live-streaming locations for family and friends who choose to share their location. Separation Alerts notify a user if they leave an AirTag, Apple device, or Find My network accessory behind in an unfamiliar location, and the Find My network now supports AirPods Pro and AirPods Max. A new Find My widget offers an at-a-glance view directly from the Home Screen.
- Translate adds a new Live Translate feature that makes conversation flow naturally across languages. Systemwide translation allows users to translate text anywhere on iPhone.
- The Apple TV app now features a new row titled “For All of You” — showcasing a collection of shows and movies based on the interests of selected people or an entire household — perfect for movie nights.
- New iPhone setup makes it more seamless than ever to get started with iPhone. Existing iPhone users can temporarily back up data to iCloud — even without a subscription — to easily transfer their data to a new iPhone. For those moving to iPhone for the first time, an improved “Move to iOS” experience easily transfers photo albums, files, folders, and Accessibility settings, so iPhone feels personal right from the start.
- Accessibility across iPhone expands with new features for VoiceOver that enable users to explore even more details about the people, text, table data, and other objects within images. In support of neurodiversity, new background sounds help minimize distractions, and for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, Made for iPhone supports new bidirectional hearing aids. Sound Actions customizes Switch Control to work with mouth sounds, and users can now customize display and text size on an app-by-app basis. Apple is also bringing support for recognizing imported audiograms — charts that show the results of a hearing test — to Headphone Accommodations.
iOS 15 will be compatible with all of the same devices as iOS 14, which is all iPhones from iPhone 6S and newer. The developer preview of iOS 15 is already available to Apple Developer Program members, and a public beta will be available starting next month.