Underwhelmed by this year’s iOS announcements? No fear – below, we’ve rounded up some of the features that you might have missed, and that could change the way you use your iPhone and iPad forever.
Perhaps one of the most relevant and topical changes coming to iOS 15 is FaceTime improvements, which introduce spatial audio for the first time. Apple says that this means voices will sound “as if they are coming from where the person is positioned on the screen,” and new microphone modes have been developed to separate voices from the background noise, all without requiring new hardware.
For the first time, Portrait Mode arrives on FaceTime video calls, so that users can blur their background and make themselves the focus when catching up with loved ones or speaking to colleagues over a virtual meeting. For corporate customers, a new grid view allows users to see more faces at the same time, and for the first time, FaceTime calls go beyond the Mac, with users able to share links to FaceTime calls and video chats via Messages, mimicking Zoom’s ability to link to meetings.
No more information overload
With consumers spending more time on their devices than ever before, Apple made an effort to help reduce distractions and information overload in this year’s release. A new feature on iOS is Focus, which filters notifications and apps based on what a user wants to focus on.
For example, if you’re at work, you can set up a Focus that will prioritize notifications from productivity apps like Calendar, Mail, and Slack, and have notifications from friends on Facebook deliver silently or not at all. What’s more, it’s possible to create Home Screen pages with apps and widgets that apply to moments of focus, which reduces the temptation of clicking onto Twitter when you should be working on an important business pitch.
Focus is even more important when paired with a refreshed notifications experience on iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, making important messages easier than ever to identify and sort between. Apple has added contact photos for people as well as larger icons for apps that make them even easier to identify, and summarizes notifications to deliver them at a more convenient time for users, such as in the morning or in the evening.
Updated Apple Maps
The next iteration of Apple Maps is significantly more detailed—outlining things like overpasses, tourist attractions, and cross walks in 3D animation. https://t.co/hpp2Mxw4b8 #WWDC21 pic.twitter.com/kDCAkELr51
— WIRED (@WIRED) June 7, 2021
Apple has worked extremely hard in recent years to make Apple Maps as compelling as its rivals’ alternatives, and this year it takes a major leap forward. Users can now experience significantly enhanced details in cities for neighborhoods, commercial districts, elevation, and buildings, new road colors and labels, custom-designed landmarks, and a new night-time mode with a moonlit glow, and whether you’re navigating a journey on iPhone or using CarPlay, Apple will now show you a stunning three-dimensional city-driving experience with more road details such as turn lanes, medians, bike lanes, and pedestrian crosswalks. For those on foot, users can hold up their iPhone and Maps will generate an accurate position to deliver detailed walking directions in augmented reality, saving people the stress and confusion of finding the right way to go. Combined, these features make Apple Maps even more attractive and will no doubt encourage users to make the switch back to Maps.
Add your driver’s license to Wallet
On Apple Wallet, Apple is introducing support for new types of keys, following on from its successful launch of adding car keys to the Wallet app. Apple will utilize Ultra-Wideband technology even further in iOS 15, allowing users to unlock their home, office, and hotel room, and later in the year, users in the United States will be able to add their driver’s license or state IDs to their Wallet app, with further countries expected to add features too.
I’m excited to finally share that Web Extensions are coming to Safari in iOS 15. You can get a head start by converting your existing web extensions to Safari for macOS. https://t.co/POyurEinZ7 pic.twitter.com/aMVnFol8mu
— Timothy Hatcher (@xeenon) June 7, 2021
Safari has been handed an update with controls that are easier to reach with one hand, and a new tab bar that’s lighter and more compact than before. Tab Groups are also coming, which allow users to access groups of websites at any time across iPhone, iPad, or Mac.