The very best options coming to iPhone this fall

Apple’s iOS 15 update brings a lot of new features to your iPhone when it launches this fall. Apple announced the latest iPhone software during its large annual developer conference this week, highlighting some of the changes.

The update gives you more options for FaceTime video chat, including, yes, finally talking to friends on Android. It also offers new privacy features that will help keep your email safe and let you know how often apps are accessing things like your camera and microphone. And later this winter, depending on where you live, you might even be able to add your driver’s license to Apple Wallet.

There are a lot of changes, but I’ll highlight some of the changes that stand out the most. They are now available for developers to test, and anyone can test a beta version starting July. Otherwise, expect this on your iPhone in autumn. The software will be available for the iPhone 6s and newer.

FaceTime SharePlay

With Apple iOS 15, you can watch movies, TV shows, and more with friends using FaceTime.

Apple

FaceTime gets some new features. One is called SharePlay. Once you start a FaceTime video call with someone or more, you can open supported apps like Disney +, Hulu, TikTok, and others and then watch a movie or TV show together. Viewers can pause or fast forward, and everything stays in sync. You can even switch to chatting via iMessage while viewing or sharing your screen. It works on iPad, Mac, and iPhone.

FaceTime with Android and Windows users

Apple iOS 15 allows you to FaceTime with Android and Windows users.

Apple

You can include Android and Windows friends in your FaceTime video chats. Anyone with a Mac, iPad, or iPhone will see a new button for creating a link for a FaceTime video that can be shared with users on non-Apple devices. You need to keep these users in the chat too, so you don’t have to worry about the link being passed on to other people and random people popping up in the chat.

Your driver’s license in Apple Wallet – and your key too!

Wallet and key

Source: Apple

Apple will soon allow you to save your driver’s license in the Apple Wallet app on your iPhone. This means that you don’t have to withdraw your license to move through the TSA at the airport first. This feature will be available this winter, and Apple is working to get state-to-state approval. You will still need your driver’s license in case you are stopped as it will not be accepted by the TSA until it starts.

Speaking of wallets, you will soon be able to store digital keys to your house in Apple Wallet. If you have a supported HomeKit Smart Lock at home or in the office, if your workstation offers it, you can tap your phone to unlock the door. And you can share temporary or permanent digital keys with visitors.

New iMessage functions

Apple iOS 15 includes new updates for messages.

Apple

The updated iMessage will start sharing relevant information in other apps. For example, if someone sends you a link to a news story, you’ll see it in the Shared With You section of Apple News with a reminder of who sent the link. It’s handy when you want to read a story later but don’t want to search through hundreds of messages to find the link.

And when someone sends a picture (not a meme or screenshot), it’ll show up under “Shared with you” in Apple Photos. This applies to links in Safari, podcasts, and movies and TV shows on Apple TV. Instead of seeing a long list of pictures when someone sends a lot, you get a neat stack of photos to flip through.

Identify animals, objects and plants in photos

Apple iOS 15 lets you search for things in your photos.

Apple

Your iPhone will be able to identify an animal, a landmark, a plant or an object such as a book and give you more information about it. A small icon appears above the photos in your gallery and can identify the breed of a pet with a tap and show you more information, for example. Or it can name a flower with a background on the plant. The feature is similar to what was available on Android phones called Google Lens.

Block messages and notifications at specific times with Focus

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Focus in iOS 15 lets you let others know that you’re unavailable.

Apple

I look forward to it. A new “focus” function only allows notifications from people and apps that you have approved in advance at a certain point in time.

The idea is that if you just want to sit down and read, or don’t want your phone to hum after a certain hour, you won’t see random apps spamming notifications or texts from people you don’t need to hear from in the moment . And recipients will see if you’re focusing with a message that says, for example, “Todd muted notifications with Focus.” In urgent cases, the sender can still forward the message.

Apple WWDC21

Source: Apple

You can create focus settings for a lot of things: work, play, sleep, and more. And each one allows you to create a custom home screen so that you only see certain apps while the rest remains accessible. For example, you might want to create one home screen for work apps and another for apps you use at home.

Big changes to Apple Maps

Apple completed a full redesign of its Maps app last year but is already back with another major update. Among other things, it offers improved directions with clearly marked lanes, zebra crossings and more. And there is a really cool 3D model that shows heights and landmarks in big cities. The new maps will work in San Francisco first, followed by Philadelphia, New York, London, Washington, and Los Angeles before expanding to other cities.

And speaking of your location, iOS 15 also offers more information about public transit, including real-time alerts when you need to get off the bus, train, or subway. There’s even a new augmented reality feature that, like Google Maps, puts more information about the real world so you can see where you’re going.

Updates to the Safari browser including searching the web by voice

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Safari in iOS 15 is also getting big changes.

Apple

Safari gets a big update for iPhone, Mac and iPad. It includes a redesign that brings the search bar on the iPhone to the bottom of the page. Support for saving groups of open tabs, such as those you use for work or vacation planning, that you can reopen on any device, and a new option to browse the web by voice

Just tap a microphone button and say what you want to look for and Safari will take care of the rest. Plus, for the first time, extensions are supported on iPhones and iPads, so you can use plug-ins like Honey to get discount while shopping. and find promotional codes.

Translate, copy, and interact with text in photos

Apple iOS 15 can recognize text in photos.

Apple

Any text in any photo can be copied and pasted or translated. So when you’re reading a menu in another language, you can just take a picture of it and see what it says. You can also take a photo of an address or restaurant name and then tap it for more information in Apple Maps. Another nice example: take a picture of a package and then click the tracking number to see where the package is via UPS or FedEx. You can also tap phone numbers in pictures to call a place instantly.

Improved Spotlight Search

Apple iOS 15 Spotlight Search

Apple

Spotlight Search is the tool you get when you swipe down on the screen to search your iPhone. It’s getting big improvements too. For example, when you search for a contact, you’ll see the pictures you took of that person and any text message links that person sent you. Get more information about TV shows, movies, artists and musicians, and more.

Data protection report

Apple is going to tell you even more about how apps use your phone. A new privacy report shows you the number of times an app has accessed your microphone, location, photos, and camera in the past seven days. And it shows you the servers the app is contacting so you can see if an app is potentially sending data to many other companies or locations.

Data protection in iCloud + and Mail

With Apple iOS 15, you can hide your email address.

Apple

The new software introduces iCloud +, a chic new name for iCloud. You no longer pay for some of the features, but it has new benefits. It will hide your online activity with iCloud Private Relay, making it difficult for people to see the websites and other places you visit.

A “hide my e-mail” function creates a random e-mail address in forms in which you need one to log in, so that the recipient does not know your real address, although you can still receive e-mails at your regular address. You also get support for as many HomeKit Secure Video Cameras as you have in your house. The 99 cents a month plan includes support for one camera, but you can add more depending on your plan.

Siri is getting faster

Siri is faster for some tasks in iOS 15. New processing on the device means you can ask Siri to set things like timers and alarms, open apps, control music, turn on the flashlight, and more, all without an internet connection. This means that these tasks should be done immediately and not with a slight delay. This feature requires the 2018 iPhone XS or later.

Create contacts so they can access your account after you die

A new “Digital Legacy” program allows you to designate contacts who will be able to access your account after you die. This is supposed to make it easier for loved ones to remove anything from their device, transfer ownership of the phone, or close an account. It is a difficult and confusing process right now. Also, with the new Account Recovery Contacts feature, you can designate specific people who can help you change your password if you ever forget it and get locked out of your account or certain devices.

And more

There’s a lot more in iOS 15, including changes to AirPods that can help you hear conversations better, new widgets for Apple apps, system-wide translation, and more. But those were some of the highlights that caught my eye. Also, keep in mind that Apple sometimes introduces some new features that the latest iPhones hardware requires. So expect some other changes in the fall.

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