Apple announced iOS 15 at WWDC. iOS 15 offers a glimpse into what’s next for Apple’s mobile operating system. After shaking up the decade-old iPhone home screen with widgets, App Library, and custom app icons, Apple is now shifting focus to the core apps, privacy, security, continuity, and seamless sharing with the iOS 15 update. Read along to learn all the top iOS 15 features coming later this year to all compatible iPhone models.
iOS 15 brings much-needed enhancements to the core iPhone apps such as FaceTime, Safari, Messages, Notes, Health, Weather, Maps, and more. It also adds new capabilities to the Spotlight search, beefed up the AirPlay share content, custom focus profiles to avoid distractions and a faster Siri experience.
Best iOS 15 Features
Let’s start the list with new features and add-ons coming to the FaceTime app on the iPhone.
1. Take FaceTime Calls to the Next Level
Apple is adding spatial audio support to FaceTime in iOS 15. Meaning, the voices in a FaceTime call will sound as if they are coming from where the person is positioned on the screen. There is a new voice isolation add-on that uses machine learning to block background voice during FaceTime calls. It all leads to a more natural video/voice calling experience on FaceTime, something that’s a welcome change in the current era.
Apple has added the portrait mode in FaceTime video calls. It’s similar to blur the background in Zoom and Microsoft Teams, and it helps you hide that messy room or background behind you.
Group FaceTime video call has received a makeover with a new grid view. It’s easy to glance at, and you can clearly see who is currently talking with a new animation.
Users can now create FaceTime links and invite their friends and family members to join the conversation. That’s now all. In a rather surprising announcement, Apple now allows Android and Windows users to join the FaceTime party via web browser as well.
SharePlay in FaceTime takes the sharing experience to the next level. Users can now share experiences with SharePlay while connecting with friends on FaceTime, including listening to songs together with Apple Music, watching a TV show or movie in sync, or sharing their screen to view apps together.
Everyone on the call can listen to the same song, watch the same movie, and even view the same screen. It’s similar to Spotify’s Group Session, and we are glad to see Apple extending it to the Apple TV app as well.
One can also share a screen using SharePlay. This is a boon for those helping friends or parents to showcase how to use a specific app or access a particular option in the Settings app.
Apple is also releasing SharePlay API for developers, and giant media names such as Disney, Hulu, HBO, NBA, ESPN, and others are already working to integrate SharePlay on the iPhone.
3. Improved Messaging Experience
When you receive a bunch of photos in the iMessage conversion, the Messages app will showcase a new design with a stack of photos. It’s a cleaner look that takes less space on the screen.
You can also see those photos in a separate Shared with You section in the Photos app on the iPhone. Similarly, a separate Shared with you section will be available in Apple News, Safari, Podcast, and the Apple TV app. These apps read the weblinks and data directly from the Messages app.
4. Focus on What Matters
Apple has integrated a brand new Focus feature that helps users focus and reduce distraction. Focus will filter notifications and apps based on what a user wants to focus on. Users can set their device to help them be in the moment by creating a custom Focus or selecting a suggested Focus, which uses on-device intelligence to suggest which people and apps are allowed to notify them.
For example, you can enable the Sleep focus profile at night, and your iPhone will limit the notifications from only a handful of apps based on your habit and machine learning.
Focus learns from user behavior. It keeps track of your usage pattern and offers custom suggestions designed for you.
Another cool trick is custom home pages and widgets arrangements in the Focus mode. You can specify exactly what to showcase on the iOS home screen when using the Focus mode.
Also, don’t worry about missed call notifications. Focus mode will automatically send status in the Messages app reflecting your current unavailability to respond to messages or calls.
5. New Notification Experience
One of the best new iOS 15 features is the revamped notification experience. This was long overdue from Apple. For starters, there are now larger icons for notification. It also offers people a preview to see who is messaging you. These are minor changes, though. The one that caught everyone’s attention is the Notification Summary. Let’s talk about it.
Notification Summary collects non-time-critical notifications for delivery at a more opportune time, such as in the morning and evening. It learns from customer habits and uses on-device learning to prioritize and deliver notifications based on user’s interactions with apps.
6. Live Text
Live Text uses on-device intelligence to recognize text in a photo and allow users to take action. For example, users can search for and locate the picture of a handwritten family recipe or capture a phone number from a storefront with the option to place a call. You can also visit the website address or email the owner directly from the visiting card image.
At this time, Live Text support is limited to 7 languages only. The feature can also identify art, books, nature, pets, landmarks, and more. The concept is similar to what Google has been doing with Google Lens on Android.
7. Advanced Spotlight Search
Spotlight now uses intelligence to search photos by location, people, scenes, or objects. Using Live Text, Spotlight can also find text and handwriting in photos. Spotlight now offers web image search and all-new rich results for actors, musicians, TV shows, and movies.
Contacts search through Spotlight has also received a UI makeover. It now displays recent conversations, shared photos, and even their location if shared through Find My.
8. Apple Music Integration with Memories in Photos App
Your Memories collection in the Photos app is about to get better with a brand new look, animations, transitions, new effects, moods, and Apple Music integration. Based on the song selection, Memories will change the slideshow look and feel with custom filters and animations.
9. Safari Improvements
Last year, Apple offered users to select third-party browser apps as the default browser on the iPhone. This year, the redesigned Safari is a key new iOS 15 feature.
For starters, Safari now carries a new tab bar that is compact and lightweight and floats at the bottom of the screen, so users can easily swipe between tabs. Group tabs also receive a new card-style look.
Extensions support is also coming to Safari with iOS 15 later this year. Hopefully, this will speed up the extension development for Safari compared to other Chromium browsers.
10. New Apple Maps Experience
Apple isn’t waving the white flag to Google Maps yet. The new Apple Maps app in iOS 15 will offer more details in cities for neighborhoods, commercial districts, elevation, buildings, new road colors and labels, and custom-designed landmarks.
Fasten your seatbelts to experience a three-dimensional city driving with new road details that help you better see and understand important details like turn lanes, medians, and bike lanes.
Those navigating at night will appreciate the new moonlit glow theme in the Maps app.
11. Apple Wallet Upgrades
Apple Wallet adds support for additional types of keys such as car keys, the ability to integrate driver’s license or state IDs, and digital identity cards to speed up the check-in process at Airports.
Users can also unlock home, hotel room, or even office using the stored key in the Apple Wallet app. Of course, it will be up to third-party devices and hotel chains to integrate the functionality with the Apple Wallet app.
12. App Privacy Report
Similar to Privacy Report in the Safari browser, Apple now offers a dedicated App Privacy Report in the Settings app. It offers an overview of how apps use the access that has been granted to location, photos, camera, microphone, and contacts in the last seven days and which other domains are contacted behind your back.
13. Revamped Weather App
The Weather app in the iOS 15 is now more in line with other third-party weather apps with AQI (Air Quality Index) support, beautiful graphics, animated backgrounds to showcase wind, rain, snow, and full-screen maps. The app has been redesigned from the ground up to deliver a better experience.
14. Tags and Activity View in Apple Notes
The Notes app in your iPhone is getting some major usability improvements with iOS 15. Using tags, you can neatly organize and find notes — no need to go through folders and sub-folders to find the relevant note.
One can also share a note with another person and tag them to a specific part in the note. You can see all the changes to the note from a dedicated Activity view section in the Notes app.
Don’t get confused by the Plus branding here. Nothing has changed when it comes to iCloud subscription prices. However, you are getting new features with the iCloud subscription. They include Hide My Email and a new privacy service called iCloud Private Relay.
iCloud Private Relay hides your online identity such as IP address, device details, and more when browsing the web.
16. Apple Health Advancements
Apple Health is getting two noticeable improvements. The app can now record your running or walking speed. It will also display the length of the steps in summary. With Apple Family sharing, one can see other family member’s data right inside the Health app, and you can message them directly about a specific health trend.
17. Faster Siri
Some basic queries such as setting an alarm, opening an app, and adding a reminder will be processed directly on the device with Siri. Meaning, you don’t need an active internet connection, making Siri responding to your queries faster than ever.
18. New Shared with You Section
You will find a new Shared with you section in the Apple Music, TV, Podcast, and Photos app. iOS basically takes the shared suggestions from the Messages conversations and place them neatly inside the relevant app.
19. Siri Support for Third-Party Home Devices
This is huge news for those living in the Homekit environment at home. Smart home device manufacturers can begin working with Apple to integrate Siri into their accessories. Soon you will see the market flooding with smart home devices with Siri support.
20. Live Translate in the Translate App
Translate adds a new Live Translate feature that makes conversation flow naturally across languages. There is also a new systemwide translate function that allows users to translate text anywhere on iPhone.
21. Built-in Authenticator
With iOS 15, users can now generate verification codes needed for additional sign-in security. If a site offers two-factor authentication, you can set up verification codes under Passwords in Settings – no need to download an additional app.
Apart from the list above, iOS 15 brings many small improvements to the Reminders, Find My, and Shortcuts app. The widgets and App Library remain unchanged from iOS 14.