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Apple in June 2021 introduced the latest version of its iOS operating system, iOS 15, which is set to be released in the fall. iOS 15 introduces new features for FaceTime calls, tools to reduce distractions, a new notifications experience, added privacy features, complete redesigns for Safari, Weather, and Maps, and more.
Notifications have been redesigned in iOS 15, adding contact photos for people and larger icons for apps. To reduce distraction, a notification summary collects notifications together for delivery at an appropriate time and arranges notifications by priority.
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 now the option to mute any app or messaging thread’s notifications temporarily, and iOS 15 will suggest muting a thread if it is unusually active but you are not engaging with it.
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.
When a Focus is set on one Apple device, it automatically applies to other Apple devices.
Spotlight can now use intelligence to search for photos by location, people, scenes, or objects, and using the new Live Text feature, Spotlight can find text and handwriting in photos.
Spotlight also supports web image searches and significantly richer results for actors, musicians, TV shows, and movies. Enhanced results for contact cards show recent conversations, shared photos, and location if it is shared through Find My.
It is also possible to access Spotlight from the Lock Screen and quickly install apps from the App Store without leaving Spotlight. For businesses that support App Clips, there is an action button on the Maps results in Spotlight.
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.
SharePlay is a new feature that allows 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.
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. FaceTime calls on the web remain end-to-end encrypted to guarantee privacy.
The Photos app contains a considerable update to Memories, which now features a new design, integration with Apple Music, a more interactive interface, and Memory looks.
Memories will suggest songs based on your Apple Music listening history that synchronize with videos and photos for a more personalized experience. Users can customize memories by swiping through Memory mixes, which let you audition different songs with a different pace and atmosphere.
There are 12 Memory looks that add mood by analyzing each photo and video and applying the correct amount of contrast and color adjustment for a consistent look. There are also new Memory types, including additional international holidays, child-focused memories, trends over time, and improved pet memories, including the ability to recognize individual dogs and cats.
It is also possible to view and edit all of the content from a Memory in a bird’s-eye view, and a Watch Next section suggests related memories to watch.
Maps now feature an interactive globe view and significantly enhanced details in a new 3D view for cities. Neighborhoods, commercial districts, elevation, buildings, and more are now displayed in detail, alongside new road colors and labels, custom-designed landmarks, and a new “moonlit” night-time mode.
The Maps app also offers a new 3D city-driving experience with road details such as turn lanes, medians, bike lanes, and pedestrian crosswalks, that works both on the iPhone and in Apple CarPlay.
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.
iOS 15 brings a completely new design to Safari. Controls are brought to 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.
Content sent to you in Messages automatically appears in a new “Shared with You” section in the corresponding app. Shared with You is featured in Photos, Safari, Apple News, Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, and the Apple TV app.
Users can pin notable content that has been shared with them so that it is elevated in Shared with You, Messages search, and the Details view of the conversation.
Groups of photos sent in Messages now appear as a glanceable collage or a swipeable stack, depending on how many have been sent. It is also now possible to find images shared through Messages using a contact name.
The Weather app has been totally redesigned in 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.
The Find My app introduces new abilities to help locate a lost device that has been turned off or erased using the Find My network. A family member or friend who chooses to share their location with you will now continuously live-stream their location to provide a sense of direction and speed.
Apple is adding Find My network support to AirPods Pro and AirPods Max, and there is a new Find My widget for an at-a-glance look at locations. There are also new Separation Alerts to notify a user if they leave an AirTag, Apple device, or Find My accessory network behind in an unfamiliar location.
Notes in iOS 15 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.
Reminders now feature 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. There are also new custom smart lists that automatically collect reminders together based on tags.
In iOS 15, Siri requests are processed on-device using the Neural Engine, increasing security and significantly boosting responsiveness, while also no longer needing an internet connection.
Siri can now share onscreen items such as photos, web pages, content from Apple Music or Apple Podcasts, Apple News stories, Maps locations, and more, in a Message, or even take a screenshot to send. In addition, Siri can now use onscreen context to send a message or place a call.
Siri is now better at maintaining context between requests, so you can conversationally refer to what you previously asked. You can also make requests to control a HomeKit device at a specific time or under certain circumstances, like when you leave home.
Siri offers neural text-to-speech voice in more languages in iOS 15, including Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, and Finnish. There is also Siri language support for Mixed English, Indic, and a mix of Indian English and a native language, including Hindi, Telugu, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil, Bengali, Gujarati, Malayalam, and Punjabi.
Mail Privacy Protection – Mail Privacy Protection prevents senders from seeing your IP address or if you have opened their email.
App Privacy Report – A new section in Settings allows users to see how often apps have accessed their location, photos, camera, microphone, and contacts during the last seven days. It also shows which apps have contacted other domains and how recently they have contacted them.
iCloud Private Relay – iCloud Private Relay allows users to browse with Safari while encrypting all traffic from their device. Requests are sent through two separate internet relays and it is designed so nobody can use your IP address, location, and browsing activity to create a detailed profile on you.
Hide My Email – Hide My Email allows users to create unique, random email addresses that forward to your personal inbox, so that you can send and receive emails without having to share your real email address.
Custom email domain – Users can now personalize their iCloud Mail address with a custom domain name, and invite family members to use the same domain with their iCloud Mail accounts.
HomeKit Secure Video – iCloud+ can store footage from more security cameras and does not contribute toward your iCloud storage allowance.
Account Recovery Contacts – Users can now select one or more trusted people to become an Account Recovery Contact to help reset their password and regain access to their account.
Digital Legacy program – The new Digital Legacy program allows you to designate individuals as Legacy Contacts so they can access your account and personal information in the event of your death.
There are dozens of tweaks and changes for other apps, such as user-created tags, mentions, and an Activity view in the Notes app, Trends, Walking Steadiness, and a new sharing tab in the Health app, a systemwide Shared with You feature for highlighting content that has been shared in Messages conversations, and a new For All of You row in the TV app to recommend entertainment for the whole household.
Reorder Home Screen pages – Users can now personalize their Home Screen more easily by reordering pages.
Drag and drop – Drag and drop is now supported across apps.
iOS 15 Supported Devices
iOS 15 is compatible with all of the same iPhones as iOS 13 and iOS 14, including older devices like the original iPhone SE and iPhone 6s. iOS 15 compatible devices are listed below.
iPhone 12 mini
iPhone 12 Pro
iPhone 12 Pro Max
iPhone 11 Pro
iPhone SE (2020)
iPhone 11 Pro Max
iPhone XS Max
iPhone 8 Plus
iPhone 7 Plus
iPhone 6s Plus
iPhone SE (2016)
iPod touch (7th generation)
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