The release of iOS 15 is expected to be a major event for mobile operating systems. And yet, this year there isn’t one groundbreaking feature or general theme that makes this version stand out. Apple has focused on quality of life updates as well as new features for its own apps.
The result is a solid update that won’t be controversial. Some people will take advantage of the new Focus feature. They will spend a lot of time personalizing their phone to make it as personal as possible. Other people will just miss or ignore the new features.
This year’s update is also a little different as you don’t need to update to iOS 15. If you’re ok with iOS 14, Apple won’t force you to upgrade to iOS 15. You will receive always the security patches. . Some people will simply reject iOS 15.
It sounds like a small change, but it says a lot about the current state of iOS. Apple sees iOS as a mature platform. Just like you don’t need to update your Mac to the latest version of macOS if you don’t want to, now you can update at your own pace.
iOS should also be seen as a mature platform for app developers. The adoption of iOS 15 will be slower than usual because people won’t necessarily update iOS 15 right away. Apps should potentially run longer on older versions of iOS.
Of course, users will “update” to a new version of iOS when they buy a new iPhone and replace their old iPhone. But Apple has and people who pre-ordered the iPhone 13 will get iOS 15.
Focus on you instead of your phone
One of the biggest changes in iOS 15 is the ability to change your focus from the Control Center. It’s a surprisingly powerful feature with a lot of options and tweaks. I would say it doesn’t look like an Apple feature.
But this is definitely one of the coolest features in iOS 15. Chances are you spend a lot of time with your phone and your device needs a lot of attention from you. With this new feature, it upsets the balance and puts you back on charge.
Do not disturb users are already quite familiar with the idea that you can turn off notifications when you don’t want to. If you want to continue using “moon mode” with iOS 15, you don’t have to change anything.
But you can now create additional focuses. By default, Apple suggests a few focuses – Work, Sleep, Driving, Fitness, Games, Mindfulness, Personal, and Reading. Each Focus is customizable to your needs and you can create new Focuses from scratch.
When you enable a specific focus, it basically blocks notifications by default. You can then add people and apps so that notifications from those people and apps are always delivered. App developers can also mark a notification as urgent so that it will always be forwarded. Hope they don’t abuse this feature.
There are three other settings you can enable. First, you can optionally indicate that your notifications are currently disabled in messages and compatible third-party apps. Second, you can hide the home screen pages completely. Third, you can hide lock screen notifications and hide home screen badges.
Focus becomes especially interesting when you realize that you can couple specific focuses with automation functionality. For example, you can automatically turn on “Sleep” at night or you can automatically turn on “Work” when you arrive at work.
Experienced users will also have a lot of fun setting up a focus and associating it with a shortcut. For example, you can use shortcuts to open the Clock app when you activate sleep mode. You got it, this new feature has a lot of depth and beta users have just started to scratch the surface.
Update all apps
With iOS 15, Apple has improved almost all default apps. Certain additions are certainly nice improvements. Others have been a bit more controversial.
Let’s start with the controversial, Safarithe design of has been updated. But what you saw at WWDC in June is nothing like what ships today. Essentially, Apple listened to the comments and changed the user interface of its web browser over the summer.
By default, the address bar is now at the bottom of the screen, just above the row of buttons that let you open bookmarks, share the current page, or go to the previous page. I think it works better. But if you really don’t want the address bar to be at the bottom, you can move it back to the top of the screen.
Other than that, Safari’s changes are all good improvements. For example, the browser now supports traditional web extensions. It will be interesting to see if the popular Google Chrome extensions make it to Safari eventually. Another cool new feature is the ability to create tab groups and find your tab groups from your other devices.
FaceTime has grown into a versatile videoconferencing service. You can now create links, share them with friends, and add them to calendar invitations. For the first time, people who don’t have an Apple device will be able to join FaceTime calls from a web browser. There’s also a new Zoom view… I mean, a grid view.
Unfortunately, the big new FaceTime feature isn’t ready for prime time just yet. SharePlay, the feature that lets you sync audio and video playback with your friends, will be released later this fall.
The Time The app has also been redesigned. It now contains a lot more information, such as rainfall maps, rainfall notifications for the next hour, and a new UV index. It has become a solid alternative to third-party weather apps. I still use Snowflake but the differences are getting smaller and smaller.
messages is now better integrated with other Apple applications. Whenever someone sends you an article, photo album, podcast, or song, you’ll see those recommendations in other Apple apps – Apple News, Photos, Apple Podcasts, Apple Music, and more. my tests but that is not going to change the way you use your phone.
Apple Cards is getting better and better, especially if you live in San Francisco. If you haven’t used it for a few years, I encourage you to try it again. It is now a solid alternative to Google Maps.
Some cities, such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and London, are getting new detailed maps with 3D buildings, bus lanes, sidewalks and more. It feels like navigating a video game given its level of detail. The app has also been redesigned with new place maps, a new driving user interface and in-app settings.
Pictures also gets a bunch of improvements. Each year, the company refines Memories. I’m not sure a ton of people use this feature, but it’s better than before. There is now more information if you also swipe over a photo, like the shutter speed and lens that were used.
But the biggest change to your photo library is that you can now search for text in your photo. iOS scans your photos to find text and save it for Spotlight searches.
Likewise, you can now point your camera at text and select text from there. It’s incredibly handy if you are looking for the restaurant address on the menu and want to share it with a friend or if you are traveling and want to translate a text.
Tips and tricks
There are a ton of small changes that make iOS 15 better than iOS 14. Let me list a few:
- If you have a compatible home key, hotel key, office key, or ID card, you can now add them all to the Wallet app.
- You can share some health data with someone else. This can be useful if you live far from loved ones or want to update your healthcare team.
- If you pay for iCloud, you are now an iCloud + user. In addition to storage, you get additional features. iCloud Private Relay, available in beta, lets you browse the web with increased privacy. Hide My Email allows you to create randomly generated email addresses to create new accounts on the web.
- Likewise, if your family uses iCloud for their email addresses, you can now set up a personal domain name and set it up in iCloud.
- iOS uses voice recognition on the device, which means you can dictate text much faster.
- But that’s not all, iOS processes some Siri requests directly to your device, which means you can start a timer, set an alarm, or change music instantly. It has changed the way I use Siri.
- You can add an account recovery contact in case you get stuck on your iCloud account. This is important to convince more people to use two-factor authentication.
- Speaking of two-factor authentication, Apple’s built-in password manager called “Passwords” can now save 2FA details and automatically fill in 2FA fields. It works pretty much like 2FA in 1Password.
- You can set up a legacy person for your Apple ID. I encourage you to take a close look at this feature. I’ve spoken to several people who couldn’t get the photos of their loved ones after they passed away because Apple couldn’t just distribute the photos.
- Apple has added tags to Reminders and Notes. You can also @ -mention people in Notes.
As you can see, the list of changes in iOS 15 is quite long. But it’s up to you to decide if you want to update to iOS 15. When Apple added cut, copy and paste with the iPhone OS 3, it was an obvious decision. Personally, I like the new features and it was worth updating. And I hope this review can help you decide whether to update or not.