All the new iOS 15 features

iOS 15 is the latest version of the iPhone OS (Apple)

If you’ve got an iPhone, an Apple Watch or an iPad, you can finally install the latest iOS 15, iPadOS 15 and WatchOS 8.

iOS 15 was released yesterday, September 20, and coincides with the imminent launch of the new iPhone 13.

The launch of a new operating system is always exciting, innovating your tech and giving people new tricks and tools to play around with. The iOS 15 launch was first teased back in June, with a first look at changes to FaceTime and new keyboard shortcuts.

Here’s all you need to know – from new features, to device compatibility.

What’s new on iOS 15?

FaceTime

The biggest update in iOS 15 is improvements to the functionality of FaceTime, which in the wake of Covid-19 and the rise of apps such as Teams and Zoom, is now going to look and feel much more like those platforms.

Updates to FaceTime will improve the video calling experience (Credits: EPA)

FaceTime users can now schedule calls, share links to join the virtual gatherings – links which will even enable Android and Windows users to join FaceTime calls via a web browser – another first.

FaceTime will also allow SharePlay – where people can continue video calling while jointly watching a show, or listening to music.

With synced playback and controls, you’ll see everyone laugh, jump and react to the same moments at the same time. And the volume automatically adjusts, so you can keep talking while you watch.

You can also share your screen over FaceTime now and access a Grid screen, seeing all people involved in the call at once.

Focus’

The new Focus tool is an elevation from the previous Do Not Disturb feature and allows users to customise it further.

New Focus themes block out notifications from friends and family when switched to work mode, or shut out notes from colleagues when a user wants to spend quality time with loved ones.

The new iOS comes ahead of the new iPhone 13 launch (Credits: EPA)

Choose from a list of Focus options or create your own to allow only the notifications you want — you can get work done while you’re in the zone or enjoy a distraction‐free dinner.

Notifications have also been undated with a new Summary tool, which will group certain, less-pressing alerts together as a collection and can be scheduled to come through when you’ve got more time to go through them.

Updated Maps

The Maps feature has seen several updates, including:

  • City experience – improved detail for roads, neighbourhoods, trees, buildings and more.
  • Visit amazing 3D landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Driving features – new road details include filter lanes, crossings and bike lanes, street-level perspectives as you approach complex interchanges, and a new dedicated driving map that helps you see current incidents and traffic conditions
  • Immersive walking features – get step-by-step directions you can view in augmented reality

Spatial audio

Individual voices will now sound like they’re coming from the direction in which each person is positioned on a user’s screen, helping conversations flow more naturally.

Video Portrait Mode

Inspired by Portrait mode in Camera, this new video effect blurs out the background so the user will be clearly in focus.

Live text and image detection

iOS 15 can now also perform live text and handwriting recognition in photos and the camera app, or point the camera at different objects to recognise them for more information, including pets, nature, art, books and landmarks.

Spotlight search can now look through your photos and find text in images. It can also search the web for images and presents richer results for music, movies and TV shows more like a Google search or Spotlight on a Mac.

Hotel keys in the Wallet app

Elsewhere, the Wallet app is expanding to now support house and hotel room keys, as well as office passes for the first time, so users can tap with their iPhone to enter.

‘Shared with you’ message centre

Great for sharing photos with friends or family, or easily finding files sent from work colleagues, now, the links, images and other content shared in Messages are featured in a new Shared with You section in the corresponding app.

‘For many customers, iPhone has become indispensable, and this year we’ve created even more ways it can enhance our daily lives,’ said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering.

Apple’s Craig Federighi first revealed the iOS at the virtual event in June (Apple)

‘iOS 15 helps users stay connected while sharing experiences in real time, gives them new tools to help reduce distraction and find focus, uses intelligence to enhance the photos experience, and, with huge upgrades to Maps, brings new ways to explore the world. We can’t wait for customers to experience it.’

Other Apple devices, such as the iPad and the Apple Watch are also receiving new OS updates.

iPadOS

The iPadOS operating system is designed specifically for iPads (Apple)

The widgets introduced to the iPhone home screen last year have come to iPad, while multitasking tools have been enhanced to give users ways to customise different split-screen set-ups.

A Quick Note feature is included too, meaning users can swipe from the corner of the screen at any time and within any app with an Apple Pencil to launch a new note and quickly scribble down what they need to.

watchOS

Health and wellbeing are a key part of the Apple Watch (Apple)

Health and wellbeing are again key parts of the Apple Watch software update, with a new Reflect app joining the Breathe feature inside a new Mindfulness app.

Reflect will ask users to think of a happy thought or moment of joy for a few seconds and focus on it, as a new alternative to the breathing exercises in the Breathe app.

The Apple Watch also measures sleep stats (Apple)

Meanwhile, tai chi and pilates workouts have been added to the Fitness apps, and Portrait photos can now be used as interactive watch faces.

macOS

Spatial Audio is coming to macOS (Apple)

Called macOS Monterey, the next version of the computer software includes a new tool called Universal Control, which allows people to use a single mouse and keyboard to control and navigate the screens of up to three different devices.

For example, someone editing an image on a MacBook can use the trackpad to move over and take control of their iPad set up next to them, and even an iMac as well if they have one – allowing them to work across the three machines at once.

Spatial Audio, which works with the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max will also now work with macoOS Monterey.

Safari, Apple’s web browser, has also been given a redesign, with a more compact, tidier address bar and tabs section and the ability to group tabs into collections for the first time.

Which devices are compatible with iOS 15?

All Apple smartphones from 2015’s iPhone 6S or newer, including the first-generation iPhone SE, can install iOS 15.

All Apple tablets from 2014’s iPad Air 2, 2015’s iPad mini 4, 2017’s iPad 5th Generation or newer can install iPadOS 15.

All Apple Watches from the 2017’s Series 3 or newer can install WatchOS 8.

How do I download iOS 15?

Through the Settings app on an iPhone or iPad, navigate to General, Software Update. Tap install if available and follow the instructions on screen.

You can also install the update via a Mac or iTunes on a Windows computer.

WatchOS 8 requires an iPhone 6s or later to be running iOS 15 first. Then open the Watch app and navigate to General > Software Update to begin the installation.

You will need to put the smartwatch on its charger to complete the update.


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