The iOS 15 summary

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Apple is in the middle of its developer conference (WWDC), and we're sure you've seen that they announced iOS 15 during the event. So we thought a quick summary of what's in it might be a good idea... The good news is that it's fully compatible with everything in the iPhone world since 2015, i.e. six years, which is impressive, although not every new feature will actually run on the older phones. They'll still pick up security updates and core OS improvements though. (This is cross-posted to AAWP because several of the features announced mirror those in Windows Phone up to a decade ago!)

iOS 15 will go through the usual public betas and will arrive on iPhones in September. It includes:

  • Notifications have been redesigned, adding contact photos for people and larger icons for apps. A helpful daily, scheduled notification summary provides a daily briefing.
  • 'Focus' can filter notifications and apps based on what a user wishes to focus on at a certain time. When a 'Focus' is set on one Apple device, it automatically applies to other signed-in Apple devices, blocking or filtering notifications on those as well.
  • The Safari web browser's UI has been redesigned, with controls now easier to reach with one hand. There is also a new tab bar that floats at the bottom of the screen so users can easily swipe between tabs. 
  • Apple Maps now offers an improved 3D view in supported cities with significantly enhanced details, showing buildings, pedestrian crosswalks, bike lanes, and more. In addition, there's a new urban driving experience with added road details and improved public transport features, plus visualisation of overpasses and 3D intersections.
  • FaceTime calls will have grid mode and Portrait mode bokeh, plus optional voice isolation and Spatial Audio. SharePlay allows users to share media (usually music) together in sync during a FaceTime call. Users can also generate shareable web links to a scheduled FaceTime call, which can for the first time also be opened in a browser instance on Android and Windows devices.
  • Weather has been redesigned (again), with more graphical displays of weather data, full-screen maps, and dynamic layouts. New animated backgrounds can now reflect the sun's position in the sky and current rainfall. 
  • Wallet adds support for new key types, e.g. homes, offices, or hotel rooms. Users in some U.S. states will be able to add a driver's license or state ID too.
  • Live Text uses on-device intelligence to recognise text in a photo that users can search for, highlight, and copy. 
  • Spotlight can now search for photos by location, people, scenes, objects, and text, plus it offers web image search and richer results for actors, musicians, TV shows, and movies. Significantly, results for contacts now show recent conversations, shared photos, and even their location, if shared through Find My.
  • Siri is now interpreted on the phone where possibly, giving faster response and better privacy.

In addition, there are improvements to Health, including analysing walking gait and looking at trends in your analytics.

Obviously quite a bit of this functionality has been seen before, notably in Windows Phone and recent Android systems, but it's always good to see the two smartphone OS contenders keeping parity. We'll report more on it when formally released, along with new iPhone hardware for Autumn 2021.