Another year another software update. That’s the simple approach to Apple’s annual iOS updates, but in reality this is a big deal with so many iPhone users the new features and the changes Apple announce are important to be across.
This morning in a virtual keynote ahead of another all-online Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple announced the key changes coming to iOS 15 for iPhones later this year.
With Covid forcing us to move to remote communication in a big way, Apple has put a lot of time into improving it’s video calling app Facetime.
With iOS 15 Audio improvements mean sound from a single person in a group chat will appear to come from the same area of the screen as the person appears in the group chat. Apple hopes this brings a more “life like” appeal to a video conversation.
Additionally, you can choose to have a simple Grid view of participants, instead of the dynamic bubbles Apple has had in Facetime for some time.
And, Portrait mode is coming to Facetime, so you can be in focus, while the messy room behind you can be blurred dynamically by Facetime.
Facetime takes on Zoom
In a world where Zoom calls are more common than anyone could have ever imagined, Apple has added “Facetime Links” to their video service.
This means you can create a link for a Facetime call, and share that in calendars, messages or however you need, to allow others to join your Facetime meeting.
Facetime Links will open on any platform, smartphone or computer, using a web browser.
This feature is directly targeting the dominance of Zoom in the video conference market, with everyone from big corporate to families using Zoom, it makes sense for Apple to keep their device users using the very software they’ve had at their fingertips all this time
For those who want to watch a TV show with their mates, listen to music while you chat or just share your screen in a group call, you now have Shareplay to use.
This allows you to fire up an Apple TV show, Apple Music Song and everyone on a group call.
The music or movie plays in real time to all users.
We’ll need to understand how this works in terms of who has a subscription and how it works for those who don’t have a valid subscription.
But at it’s core, its about keeping a group chat going, while everyone enjoys content
Everyone can add to a music playlist, toggle play and pause or skip tracks.
It’s a great way to have a connected experience when you’re not all together.
Apple say this is also working as an API, which means other streaming and music services like Netflix, Stan or Spotify can enable it – if they choose.
If you’re in a group message thread, and see loads of photos being shared, those photos will be shared in new carousels or collages.
Additionally, if you appear in those photos, they will appear in your photo library with a little comment bubble indicating they came from a chat.
Shared with You
When things like music, news, links are shared with you, and you don’t have time to check them out – Apple will now collate that into a “Shared for you” which will remind you of those shared items when you open the relevant app.
If you’re reading the link someone sent you in Messages using the News app, you’ll also see who shared it with you, you can tap that notification and reply to that original message.
Perhaps one of the most innovative changes to iPhone will be your Focus, using the new Focus too.
This takes “Do Not Disturb” to a new level.
With Work, Home or custom modes, you will be able to reduce and concentrate your notifications based on the mode you are in.
This means in Work Mode, you might not get all those family chat messages popping up on screen during important meetings.
Likewise, when you’re home, those Work Emails might not show as notifications.
Allowing you to focus on what you’re doing, and get your day back!
When taking a photo you can now make any text pop out, copy it, and share it in email or messages.
The best example here is a whiteboard session. Take a photo of the whiteboard, choose the Live Text button, and the whiteboard can then be highlighted, text copied and pasted into other apps.
Using the smarts behind this, you can also copy text from existing photos, like phone numbers, names or any other text.
A new Digital key is coming to Apple Wallet, paired with brands who make locks, you’ll be able to buy Door Locks or even integrate with your work swipe card. But, it will be platform dependent, do don’t assume your work swipe card is on the way out yet.
Also, Hotel chains will be offering Apple Wallet keys to hotel room doors. While this is exciting, it was also announced years ago as part of Apple Wallet and Apple Watch, so it really requires some more rapid uptake by the hotels!
Apple’s new look maps are coming to Australia later this year. This includes a sleek new design, better landmarks and likely the streetview rival “Look around” though that was not directly mentioned.
Apple announced many new features of Maps, including better lane guidenance and visibility of the real state of an intersection, though again, no word on if that detail will come to Australia fast.
Airpods help you hear conversations
Apple’s Airpods will feature a new “conversation boost” feature for those who struggle to hear an individual in a group conversation, or in a busy noisy environment.
This uses computational audio, and beamforming microphones to reduce the ambient noise and allow you to better hear and engage in conversation.
When will iOS 15 be available?
Developers have almost immediate access to this latest operating system. They need time to check their apps, rebuild anything that might need tweaking.
A Public Beta will no doubt launch in a month or so allowing those game to try it the chance to take part in the testing process, while the full real-world launch will happen around the same time as the next iPhone launches in late September or early October.