All the best new features coming to the iPhone

Apple has just announced the iOS 15 update for the iPhone and it packs a load of new features. Here are some of the best features we’ve heard about so far.

If you use one of the best iPhones or best iPads then you’re using iOS. This is the software that powers Apple’s mobile devices and it gets one big update every year. We’re also expecting details on Watch OS 8, TvOS and a new MacBook Pro.

Here are all the new features we’ve heard about in iOS 15 so far. We’ll be updating this page as we know more.

FaceTime is getting a load of updates in iOS 15, although it does feel a bit like this is all a little too late.

You can now schedule FaceTime calls and share the links with other iOS, Android and Windows users. You’ll also be able to blur the background around you using a new portrait mode. Great if you forget to tidy up before your morning call.

A new feature called SharePlay will allow you to share music, TV shows and even Disney Plus content across a FaceTime call so you can watch it all together – even using AirPlay to showcase it on a TV.

There’s a SharePlay API that developers will be able to build into their apps too.

There have been some changes to the audio options in FaceTime calls with iOS. Spatial Audio is here now, so conversations should sound more spread out and more natural. You’ll also be able to prioritise your own voice, ditching that pesky background noise.

iMessage was heavily rumoured to be getting a raft of new features in iOS and that is the case.

Links that are shared with you will show up in the News app so you can browse the stories later.

There’s a new notification summary included in iOS 15. This groups together notifications and pings them to you at certain points during the day. This is ideal for those apps where notifications don’t need to be seen right away.

Apple has also slightly upgraded the look of the notification panel.

Focus is a new feature that gives you individual profiles with various settings specific for each.

One could be for when your driving, or at work or for the weekend. These profiles vary things like notifications (in work mode you might only receive alerts when work apps) while it can also alter homescreens too. You could, for instance, have a page of apps that purely shows up during your work hours.

There are a couple of nifty features added to some other Apple apps too.

You can now search directly inside pictures you’ve taken, pulling out phone numbers to easily ring up a cafe. This looks very clever, and useful.

The weather app has been overhauled, with new animations and graphics throughout. There are also new weather maps, which look a lot like those from Dark Sky.

Finally, Wallet now supports certain house keys, ID card and hotel key cards.

This is a breaking story and we’ll be updating this page as we know more. Read on for the previous information about iOS 15 prior to release.

Apple has announced that its annual WWDC (Worldwide Developer Conference) will kick off with a Keynote on June 7. This is typically the event where Apple details the next slate of software and it would be expected that iOS 15 will be a headline feature of the online-only event.

Apple usually then follows the announcement with a developer beta, with a wider public beta following a month or two later.

In terms of when you’ll see iOS 15 arrive on your phone, this usually happens around the same time as Apple releases a new device. If the iPhone 13 arrives in September, we’d expect iOS 15 to ship on that device and be available at a similar time.

Apple does a great job at supporting its iPhones and iPads for many years after release, with some versions of iOS launching with full support for every device that ran the previous version.

Early rumours have suggested that might not be the case here, with both the original iPhone SE and iPhone 6S (along with its iPhone 6S sibling) set to miss out on iOS 15. You might also not be able to install iOS 15 if you have an iPad Mini 4, iPad Air 2 or iPad 5.

Bye bye iPhone 6s?

A lot of the information regarding what’s to come in iOS 15 comes from Mark Gurman at Bloomberg. Gurman tends to be reliable, however as always with early leaks nothing will be confirmed.

Status profiles

Gurman states that iOS 15 will introduce status profiles, a feature that was once common on phones. This would let you alter your incoming notifications by selecting options like ‘sleeping’ or ‘driving’. 

This would lead to a deeper focus on auto-replying, according to the article.

Updates to iMessage

iMessage is featured heavily in the WWDC advertising and branding so it’s no surprise that we might be in for some hefty updates to Apple’s native messaging platform. Rumours suggest iMessage will get updates to make it more of a competitor to services like WhatsApp and Facebook. What they will remain to be seen.

iPadOS to get some big updates

It looks like you’ll finally be able to place widgets anywhere on the homescreen, even completely replacing the app grid with these miniature bundles of information.

Currently widgets on the iPad are restricted to one small portion of the display. This is a lot more similar to how widgets work on an iPhone.

More privacy controls could be coming too, with a new menu showing which apps are collecting data.

1. More choice over default apps

It was a big step for Apple to give some wiggle room with default apps in iOS 14, however being able to use third-party alternatives for Mail and Safari just isn’t enough. In iOS 15, it would be nice to set default music players and SMS clients among others.

2. Interactive widgets

Apple added homescreen widgets in iOS 14 and they remain welcome additions. However, the lack of any interactivity limits the usefulness somewhat.

You can’t, for instance, have a Spotify widget that lets your pause a song, or a weather widget that lets you scroll through cities without entering the app. Until this functionality is added, widgets will still be limited on iOS.

iOS 14 added support for widgets, like this one from Google

3. A new lockscreen with more info

The lockscreen on an iPhone is full of wasted space. With iOS 15, we would love Apple to take some inspiration from the Apple Watch 6 and give us some complications – little tidbits of information that are visible right away. This would work in tandem with the always-on display that is heavily rumoured for the iPhone 13.

The complications could include a glanceable look at the temperature, a look at your activity rings or even the number of unread notifications you have.

4. Further improvements to notifications

We don’t think Apple has ever really nailed notifications on an iPhone, especially when compared to Android. It still feels like all notifications are created equal, whereas what we really want is our messages upfront and everything else tucked neatly away.

Every morning iPhone users wake up to a lockscreen packed with countless notifications, none of which feel like they’re in any proper order. Hopefully iOS 15 will fix this.

5. A better camera shortcut

Every time our reviewers move from one of the best Android phones to an iPhone it takes me a few days to remember they can’t open the camera just by just double-clicking the power key. This Android stalwart feature really needs to make its way to iOS as soon as possible.

6. iPhone-like widgets on the iPad

Widgets are treated differently on iPad and iPhone. On an iPhone 12 (or any other iOS 14-toting model) you can place widgets on multiple pages inline with apps. On an iPad, they are restricted to a single pane and must all sit in a row.

With such a big screen available, it seems odd that Apple didn’t let us put widgets anywhere on an iPhone from the off. Hopefully this will be rectified in iOS 15.

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