iOS 15 has just been released by Apple, and it promises to give you “new ways to stay connected”, “powerful updates” to help you focus and explore, and other “intelligent features”. It’s meant to be a big update, so here are 10 of the features you should try out once you’ve updated your iPhone.
The new iOS 15 update gave me something I didn’t know I needed—a Focus feature that filters notifications “based on what a user wants to focus on in that moment”. Usually, a Do Not Disturb feature would tune out most notifications regardless of the activity or situation you’re in.
So, to have the Focus mode which lets you select different “Focuses” like Driving, Mindfulness, Gaming, Fitness and Reading can help you concentrate a lot better and worry less about missing out on important notifications. You can even create your own Custom Focus mode for things like Cooking or Weekend Mode.
Additionally, you can create dedicated Home Screen pages with relevant apps and widgets to match a specific Focus. You will even receive suggestions to turn on a Focus, based on things like time of day or location. And when Focus is set on one Apple device, it automatically applies to all of your Apple devices.
To access Focus mode, go to your Settings, and the options will be between Sounds & Haptics and Screen Time. From there, you will be able to see the Focus modes you already have like Sleep and Do Not Discturb. You can then select the + icon on the top right of the screen to choose other Focus mode options.
Each of these options will give you a list of features that they will include. For example, Driving Focus will silence notifications, lets others know you have notifications silent and allow them to notify you if something is urgent, and the mode will also automatically turn on once you’ve connected your phone to CarPlay. You can also choose people you want notifications from when you’re driving.
The iPhone notifications gets a slick new revamp. First of all, your notifications will include larger app icons and contact photos from text messages. But the cool part of this revamp that I haven’t yet tested out is the Scheduled Summary that you would be able to receive.
The summary will be “based on priority” using “on-device intelligence”. Notifications on top of the summary will be based on how a user interacts with apps. So, things like messages, phone calls and other time-sensitive notifications will be delivered on top. You can also mute any app or messaging thread for an hour or for the day.
To enable Notification Summary, go to Notifications in Settings. You’ll be able to choose when the summaries will be sent to you, and you can also choose your preferred apps.
The update comes with a strange choice—moving their Safari URL bar to the bottom. It’s not particularly annoying to me, just strange. But Apple says that the move is so that “users can easily swipe between tabs with one hand”. The update also has Tab Groups which allows you to organise your tabs and easily access them at any time across all of your connected Apple devices.
The new Safari also has a pretty cool feature where you can press on the microphone icon in the browser bar to voice search. I tested it out by saying “kitty cat” and it successfully showed me the Google search for kitty cats. But when I tried saying “SoyaCincau”, it directed me to some dude called “Sachin Chow” and weirdly the Taylor’s University campus—but it’s still a cool feature, nonetheless.
Your Photos app will now show you tons of information about the photos and videos you’ve taken, and saved from other apps and websites. You can look them up by selecting a photo/video, and then swipe up. Images you’ve taken will show the type of device it was taken with, date, time, the type of phone camera used, the location it was taken, and other information. Images saved from other sites will also give you information of when it was saved and where it was taken from.
There’s also a new feature in Memories where you can create videos and slides right on the photos app with “a song and vibe to match”. Something like this was previously available for Memories, but it looks even more like TikTok now.
So, I don’t know how useful the Maps feature has been for you previously. I’ve personally just been using Waze to help guide me to places when I drive. But the iOS 15 update is trying to encourage us to give it try after a its terrible reputation by giving us new features. It’s too bad that their coolest feature doesn’t seem available yet in Malaysia.
Apple improved their map design by adding things like 3D landmarks for places like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. And while it’s certainly a plus for users in California, our most famous landmark—the KLCC—has not yet had the same 3D feature.
But the features we can observe are the interactive globe, which you can view by pinching your map until you see the globe, and an improved search. Apple describes it as letting users find places easier with filters and automatic updates when you’re browing on the map. I’ve also noticed that the searches for locations are significantly faster than if i were to search for them on Waze.
Apple’s new update also offers a very detailed weather app. The app has a new revamped design with weather charts, animated backgrounds, and other updates. And when you scroll down, you can also see a legitimately terrifying temperature map based on your location. If you’re in Malaysia, like me, you’ll be able to see a map that looks like it’s on fire to indicate how hot it is.
You’ll also see the UV index, a reminder for yourself to use sun protection, the time of sunset, as well as wind and rainfall information. There is also a map for air quality, but it’s currently unavailable for Malaysia. Apple also mentions that you’ll get notifications for when rain (or snow, if don’t live near the equator) is starting and stopping.
You’ll now be able to enable Portrait Mode at a touch of a button during your FaceTime call. So once you’re in a call, you can press on your own face and then select the Portrait Mode icon on the top left (as seen in the screenshots above). You’ll be able to tell that it’s working when your background blurs up.
You’re also now able to FaceTime people who have an Android or Windows device through their web browser. To initiate the call, iOS users need to create a FaceTime link and share it. You can create your own link by opening up the FaceTime app and clicking on “Create Link”.
Later this fall, SharePlay will deliver a way for users to listen to songs, watch a TV show or movie, complete a workout, or share their screen to view apps with other people on FaceTime. According to Apple, SharePlay will work with apps like Apple Music, Apple TV+, and Apple Fitness+, Disney+, ESPN+, HBO Max, Hulu, MasterClass, Paramount+, Pluto TV, SoundCloud, TikTok, Twitch, and “many others”.
The iOS Messages app will compile all photos and videos sent to you via Messages, and keep it in a special Shared with You folder in the Photos app. Shared with You also appears in Safari, Apple News, Music, Apple Podcasts, and the Apple TV app—and it will display the photos, articles, music, and other content shared by friends and family in Messages. The section shows who sent the content, so you can view the associated message and restart the conversation.
iOS 15 also updates Memojis. You can now updated your look with things like multicolored headwear, more glasses styles, and new accessibility options including cochlear implants, oxygen tubes, and a soft helmet. Memoji stickers can be customised with “more than 40 outfit options and nine new sticker poses” including a shaka, hand wave, and light bulb moment.
Your Camera and Photos app have a new feature called Live Text, which lets you automatically scan any text-based copy. In the Camera preview, tap the Live Text button on the bottom right that appears when text is in the frame (it should look like a little notepad icon). You’re then able to Translate, Look Up, Copy or Share the text.
The Camera app was able to recognise most of the text on my water bottle, but it had some minor issues. It recognised Malay as English because of the mix of languages in the copy. It also decided to translate a lot of it in Chinese, but it mostly was impressive. You could also do the same with Photos that you have already taken.
The new update also gives you a lot of updates through the useful Notes app. You can create user-created tags to categorise your notes. You can also do things like scan documents, pin notes, and lock notes with a password or touch/face ID.
Just for fun, I tried scanning my tube of lotion as a document and it still works! You’re able to insert the “document” into your notes. And additionally, you can now share your notes to other users and the app will even highlight details on who made the changes. Quick Notes created on Mac and iPad can also be viewed and edited in Notes.
Other iOS 15 features highlighted by Apple are several privacy control features. They include customisable Switch Control options for accessibility, Announce Notifications on AirPods via Siri to share what’s on their screen just by asking, a new sharing tab on the health app, and more.
To learn how to update your iPhone to iOS 15, or if you want to see which devices are able to update, you can click here for the article. For iPads, iPadOS 15 is also available. Let me know which iOS 15 feature you’re most excited about.
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