Apple’s iOS 15 update released Monday and it’s bringing a plethora of new features and improvements to your iPhone. While any iPhone 6S or newer is compatible, it’s important to be aware that some of the new features will only operate on iPhones with at least an A12 Bionic Chip, meaning only those with an iPhone XS or newer will be able to get the most out of the update.
Before installing the update, it’s important that users perform an iCloud Backup on their iPhone, to prevent losing any data during install. Once the phone is plugged in and connected to WiFi, users can find the Software Update under General Settings, and then select “Download and Install”. The update may take some time, so be sure to install when you don’t need to use your phone.
Now, what are the top features of the iOS 15 update?
-FaceTime and SharePlay:
Apple’s video-calling app received extensive updates, including Portrait Mode and the ability for multi-person video calls, similar to Zoom or Google Meet. iPhone users can also create and share links to FaceTime, with which Android or Windows users can also join the chat. With Portrait mode, users can put themselves in focus and blur the background. FaceTime has also begun using spatial audio, making video calls sound much more natural. There are two new microphone options as well: Isolation and Wide Spectrum. Isolation will help to cut out background noise so that the receiving end only hears your voice, while Wide Spectrum will pick up all sounds.
Apple now offers SharePlay in FaceTime, meaning users can listen to songs together, watch streaming services in sync, or share their screen during FaceTime calls. Anyone in the SharePlay session has access to same playback controls. Most streaming services have already adopted this feature and many other apps are following suit.
-Focuses, Do Not Disturb, and Notification Summary:
When Do Not Disturb is on, users can opt for contacts to be able to see that it’s on within messages, similar to a status update.
With the new Focus feature, users can adapt the Home Screen and notifications to eliminate distractions. Users can choose between profiles such as Work, Personal, or Sleep, and can create up to 10 Focuses. When a Focus is selected, your Home Screen will only display apps and notifications related to that mode. For example, if Work is the Focus selected, only work related apps or messages will appear. These modes can be timed to specific events or when you enter/leave a location.
Users can opt-in to the new Notification Summary, which collects non-urgent notifications to be delivered at a more convenient time. After identifying your phone usage patterns, Summary determines which notifications should fall into this category and when they should be delivered to you. To opt-in to this feature, go to Settings > Notifications > Scheduled Summary.
Thanks to Apple’s upgrades in computer vision technology, users now have the option for Live Text. With this, users can point the camera app at anything with text for a text icon to appear in the bottom right screen. This icon will allow you to highlight the desired text to then be able to copy and paste it into any other app. Live Text is also available on any photo in your library that contains text, creating a link for phone numbers or addresses to launch in the phone dialer or Maps.
Safari has been updated to make it easier to use one-handed. When you open Safari, you will notice the URL bar is now located at the bottom of the screen and is hidden when you scroll, in order to maximize your screen. On the new tabs page, you can swipe through easily or group tabs together. Here you will also find content that has been shared with you.
Apple Maps has also seen improvements and is even more detailed in this new update. When driving, Maps will display highway interchanges in 3D so users have a more accurate idea of which lane they need to be in. Users will experience enhanced details in cities, commercial areas, elevation, building, and custom designed landmarks. When using public transportation, Maps can notify you when it’s nearly time to get off. For walking directions, users can easily hold up their iPhone and Maps will generates an accurate position and provides intricate direction in augmented reality.
-Find My iPhone:
In the event your iPhone is turned off or has even been erased, the Find My iPhone will still be able to locate the phone for up to 24 hours. If you lose your AirPods or other accessories, there is new support to help locate them even outside of Bluetooth range.
-Shared With You:
With this new feature, certain items sent to you in Messages will now appear in a “Shared With You” section of select apps, such as Photos, News, or Safari. If a contact sends you multiple images, these photos will now appear in a Shared With You album in your library. Links will appear in the Shared With You section of the tabs page in Safari. This new feature is available in Photos, News, Music, Safari, TV, and Podcasts.
Users can now store Covid-19 test results or vaccination records in the Health App. If a medical location doesn’t support this feature, you can still store the information in the app using a QR code or browser. Users can now share health data with caregivers or family, when needed.
There are numerous additional features, including updates to Siri, iCloud+, redesigned apps, translation, new privacy features, and more. Overall, the new features of the iOS 15 update bring an exciting wave of new functionality to iPhones.