Apple in June 2021 introduced the latest version of its iOS operating system, iOS 15, which was released on September 20. It brings a slew of new features and improvements to your iPhone, including an easier way to use Safari, and huge upgrades to FaceTime, tools to reduce distractions, a new notifications experience, added privacy features, complete redesigns for Safari, Weather, and Maps, and more.

Explore the all new features!

Notifications Redesign

iOS 15 introduces completely redesigned notifications. Notifications will now display contact photos for people and larger icons for apps to make them easier to identify.

There is an all-new personalized notification summary that collects non-urgent notifications together to be delivered at a more appropriate time, such as in the morning or evening. Notifications in the summary are arranged by priority using on-device intelligence that analyzes the user’s interactions with apps, with the most important and relevant notifications rising to the top. Urgent messages and time-sensitive notifications will still be delivered immediately.

There is also a new notification API for developers, allowing them to send time-sensitive notifications and adopt the new look for notifications coming from people.

Focus Mode 

iOS 15 features a new tool to help users reduce distraction called Focus. A Focus can filter notifications and Home Screen pages based on what a user wishes to focus on at a particular time, while still allowing urgent notifications through. When a user’s Focus is currently blocking incoming notifications, their status is automatically displayed to other people in Messages, showing that a user is not currently available unless it is urgent.

iOS will automatically suggest Focuses to users using on-device intelligence to determine which people and apps should notify them at certain times. Focus suggestions are based on users’ contexts, such as work hours, personal time, or winding down for bed. Users can also create a custom Focus to only show certain notifications and Home Screen pages, select allowed interruptions for the most important notifications and apps, and set up auto-replies for Messages during a Focus.

When a user sets a Focus, it syncs across Apple devices. Developers can implement a new Status API for third-party messaging apps to reflect a Focus status.

FaceTime Enhancements

In iOS 15, FaceTime offers Spatial Audio so that voices in a video call sound as if they are coming from where the person is located on the screen. There are also new microphone modes to separate a user’s voice from background noise or introduce background noise in Wide Spectrum mode if desired.

FaceTime now features Portrait mode for video calls, so users are able to blur out their background and put themselves in focus, and mute alerts so it is clearer when you are speaking on mute. There is also a new grid view for group FaceTime calls, enabling participants to see more faces at the same time, and optical zoom control for the back camera.

Furthermore, users can now create a link to a FaceTime call and share it through Messages, Calendar, Mail, or third-party apps.

FaceTime links can be opened to use the FaceTime app on Apple devices, but they can also be opened through a web browser, bringing FaceTime to Android and Windows for the first time.

Collaborative SharePlay

With SharePlay, you’ll be able to share movies, music, and your screen with anyone you’re FaceTiming with. This feature enables users to share experiences with each other during FaceTime calls, including media like Apple Music songs, TV shows, or movies. Media is played in sync for all participants and there are shared playback controls, so anyone in a SharePlay session can play, pause, or skip content, as well as add to a shared queue. SharePlay also gives users the ability to share their screens to view apps together in a FaceTime call.

Third-party apps such as Disney+, ESPN+, HBO Max, Hulu, MasterClass, Paramount+, Pluto TV, TikTok, Twitch, and others have committed to integrating SharePlay.

SharePlay extends to the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV, so users can watch shows or movies on a bigger screen while connecting over FaceTime. Smart volume control dynamically and automatically adjusts audio so you can hear your friends even when shared content is playing loudly. SharePlay also features in-app Messages controls.

Fancier Maps

The Maps app now offers a new 3D view in cities with significantly enhanced details, showing buildings, pedestrian crosswalks, bike lanes, and more. There is a new city-driving experience with added road details and improved Transit features, such as pinned favorite lines, notifications to disembark, and AR walking directions.

There is also a new walking directions view that uses augmented reality. Users simply hold up their iPhones, and the Maps app will generate an accurate position to deliver detailed walking directions using the camera.

When searching for a new location, there are new options to filter results by criteria like cuisine or opening times. Maps will also automatically update search results when moving around.

All-New Weather App 

There is a complete redesigning of the Weather app on iOS 15. The Weather app now features more graphical displays for weather data, a full-screen map, and a dynamic layout that changes based on outside conditions.

Apple has redesigned the Weather app’s animated backgrounds to more accurately reflect the sun’s current position and precipitation conditions. There are also notifications to highlight when rain or snow starts and stops.

Safari Improvements

iOS 15 brings a completely new design to Safari. Controls are at the bottom of the screen so that they are easier to reach with one hand.

There is a new, compact tab bar that floats at the bottom of the screen so that users can easily swipe between tabs, and it also contains a Smart Search field. Tab Groups allow users to save their tabs in a folder and sync across the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. In addition, there is a new tab overview grid view.

Users can simply pull down a web page to refresh it and there is now support for voice search. Safari also gains a customizable start page and mobile web extensions for the first time.

Other Notable Features:

Live Text & Visual Lookup:

One of the coolest features on iOS15, it features Apple’s computer vision technology. Point your camera app at anything with text, and you’ll see a text icon on the bottom right. That’ll let you highlight the text so you can easily copy and paste it to another app. You can point the camera at landmarks, plants, pets, or books, and get information about whatever you’re looking at.

Photos:

There is a major update to Memories with a new design and an interactive interface. Memories now supports integration with Apple Music, using on-device intelligence to offer song suggestions for personalized Memories.

Notes:

This will feature user-created tags to conveniently sort and categorize notes in new ways. There is a Tag Browser to tap combinations of tags and quickly view tagged notes. There are also new custom folders that automatically collect notes based on tags.

Digital Wallet:

You will have support for new key types in iOS 15, such as homes, offices, or hotel rooms. Later this year, customers in participating U.S. states will be able to add a driver’s license or state ID to the Wallet app.

Apple’s Health App:

You can now share your health data with family members or caregivers. You can store your Covid-19 test results and vaccination records in the app, too.

Reminders:

It now features tags to help with organization, and it is possible to search and filter reminders based on tags. There is a new Tag Browser to tap combinations of tags and quickly view tagged reminders.

Siri:

Talking to Siri in iOS 15 is more secure than ever because your audio now doesn’t leave your device. You can control a variety of on-device functions without an internet connection, like asking Siri to turn on Dark mode or set an alarm, and it’ll run much faster.

Mail Privacy Protection:

This feature prevents senders from seeing if you opened an email, and it hides your IP address and location.

CSAM Detection:

Starting later this year, Apple will be able to detect known Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) images stored in iCloud Photos, enabling Apple to report these instances to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), a non-profit organization that works in collaboration with U.S. law enforcement agencies.

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