Apple has just announced the next iteration of software for iPhone and iPad at WWDC 2021, appropriately named iOS 15. This was definitely expected, and we are going to see a lot of new features, changes, and improvements in the latest version of iOS.
Here's everything we know about iOS 15 so far.
iOS 15 is bringing some big changes to FaceTime calls. First, you'll be getting Spatial Audio, so everyone on a FaceTime call sounds more natural, comfortable, and lifelike. It's as if you are all in the same room, because someone's voice will come from where they are positioned on the screen. The microphone is also getting improvements with Voice Isolation and WIde Spectrum modes. Voice Isolation will use Machine Learning to block out background noise. Wide Spectrum does the opposite and will pick up everything around you, including your own voice.
Video calls in FaceTime will be getting a grid view that still makes it clear who is speaking. It will also use Portrait Mode to blur the background and put the focus on you. There is also going to be SharePlay, allowing you to share experiences with a group through FaceTime. This means you can listen and watch audio on Apple Music, watch a TV show or movie together, and even share your screen with others. SharePlay will work across iPhone, iPad, and Mac. The shared playback controls means that anyone in the session can play, pause, or jump ahead. Playback will be in sync.
Companies that support SharePlay include Disney+, ESPN+, HBO Max, Hulu, MasterClass, Paramount+, Pluto TV, TikTok, Twitch, and more.
FaceTime calls can now be shared with a link, and you can share those links though traditional share methods like Messages, Calendar, Mail, or third-party apps. FaceTime is now also available for Android and Windows users with end-to-end encryption.
Messages has some improvements in iOS 15. Now you will have collages and stacks of photos in Messages when they are sent. There are also new embeds for Playlists and Apple News stories. In News, there is also a new "Shared with You" section in the News app, which gathers all of the Apple News stories shared with you in Messages and keeps them in one place. The Shared with You feature for Messages is shared across Photos, Apple Music, News, Safari, Podcasts, and Apple TV.
You can also pin stuff to elevate that content in those apps.
A brand new feature is Focus. This includes changes to Notifications, certain modes for personal and work life, and more.
Notifications are getting a change with Notification Summary. You now get a large "summary" of notiifcations that are sent to you at a speciic time of day that you choose to help reduce distraction. This summary bundles low priority notifications together and does not include notifications from people. And now when you turn on Do Not Disturb, it will show the status in iMessage. People will see when you have DND on, and can choose whether to send a message through DND or not.
Focus also lets you set up modes for work, personal, and more. With on-device AI, your iPhone can try to pre-guess what kind of notifications you want to receive, such as from coworkers during your work hours. These Focus modes can also reorganize your Home screen. With Focus, you can basically have a Work Mode, Personal, Weekend, and more.
Another new feature is Live Text, which is part of the new on-device intelligence features. This is basically bringing OCR text recognition to the native Camera app. So when you point it at text, it will pop out and you can select the text, copy it, or even paste it elsewhere. The Live Text feature also works on existing photos, allowing you to look stuff up as you need. Live Text uses a deep neural network to scan photos across the entire system, including the web. It will support seven languages on launch.
Spotlight will be using intelligence to search your photos by location, people, scenes, and even objects. Combined with Live Text, Spotlight can even find text and handwriting in your photos. There will also be new web image searches with new rich results for actors, musicians, TV shows, and movies. You'll also have enhanced results for your contacts through recent conversations, shared photos, and even location if it's shared through Find My.
Photos will have a fresh new look with interactive interface, especially for Memories. There is also integration with Apple Music, using on-device intelligence to personalize the song suggestions and bring a new layer to your memories.
There is a new design for Safari that makes it easier to control with one hand, while putting content front and center. A new tab bar is compact and lightweight, and will float at the bottom of the screen. To move between tabs, all you need to do is swipe. Tab Groups lets you save tabs and easily access them at any time across all of your devices, including iPhone, iPad, or Mac. There is a customizable start page, web extensions on iOS, making Safari more powerful than ever on the go.
Digital car keys are coming to Wallet later this year. The first company to support this will be BMW, but there will also be Ultra Wideband support for home keys, work entry, and even hotesl coming later on. Hyatt Hotels is going to be rolling this feature out to over 1,000 properties. Companies supporting UWB keys include Schlage, Walt Disney World, Aqara, and more.
There will also be support for digital IDs in supported states, including support from the TSA. The TSA is working to enable airport security checkpoints as the first place that customers can use their digital identity cards in Wallet. All identity cards in Wallet will be encrypted and safely stored in the Secure Element, which is the same hardware technology that makes Apple Pay private and secure.
Yes, you can finally have your driver's license in your Wallet, which is something I've been wanting for years.
The Weather app is getting a big update. There will be new full-screen weather maps that include air quality, precipitation, and more. There are also new weather graphics, redesigned animated graphics, and a completely new layout and data. The new animated backgrounds better reflect sun's position, precipitation, snow, rain, and more. Notifications will highlight when rain or snow starts and stops.
iOS 15 brings the fancy new Apple Maps to Spain and Portugal, with Italy and Australia coming later in the year. Another big change is the new interactive globe, with Apple including more details on commercial districts, buildings, and more. There will also be elevation infomration, road colors, custom-designed landmarks, and a new nighttime mode.
Driving mode will have more road details as well, including turn lanes, medians, bus lanes, bike lanes, pedestrian crosswalks, overlapping and complex interchanges, and more. Oddly enough, CarPlay support for these new features won't come until later. Either way, this could help a lot of people avoid dangerous road maneuvers.
Transit is also getting improved. You can now get notifications when your stop is coming up, including on Apple Watch, and you can also scan buildings in AR to get better walking directions. This is coming to certain cities, including Los Angeles, London, San Francisco, Philidelphia, and more. Users can even pin their favorite lines for easy access later.
Several big new features are coming to the Health app. This includes Mobility, which assesses your risk of falling with a new metric that is called "Walking Steadiness." Sensors on your device will measure your speed, gait, timing, when both feet are on the ground, and more to detect changes in your balance. You get a notification when your steadiness is low.
Health Reports will include detailed descriptions of what lab descriptions mean and show you what your expected ranges are. This helps you better understand the results of your labwork. The information in your Health app can also be shared privately with your healthcare provider in a private way. Six healthcare providers will support this at the start, and more will be added later.
iOS 15 is the latest and greatest version of iOS, but surprisingly, it will still support the iPhone 6s/6s Plus, as well as the original iPhone SE. Here are the compatible devices for iOS 15.
- iPhone 12 Pro Max
- iPhone 12 Pro
- iPhone 12
- iPhone 12 mini
- iPhone 11 Pro Max
- iPhone 11 Pro
- iPhone 11
- iPhone SE (2020)
- iPhone XS Max
- iPhone XS
- iPhone XR
- iPhone X
- iPhone 8 Plus
- iPhone 8
- iPhone 7 Plus
- iPhone 7
- iPhone 6s Plus
- iPhone 6s
- iPhone SE
If you're planning to put iOS 15 on one of the older about-to-drop-software-support devices towards the bottom of the list, you may want to also consider upgrading to the best iPhone soon.
iOS 15 is slated to release to the general public later in the fall this year, which is the norm, as it launches around the same time as new iPhones.
If you have a developer account, you can download the developer beta of iOS 15 right now. The public beta will be out in July.
Are you excited for iOS 15?
As you can tell, there is a lot coming in iOS 15. We're excited to get our hands on it and try out all of the new features before it officially launches in the fall.
What do you think of iOS 15? Let us know in the comments.
This story is updating, please refresh for more as it comes in.