Apple will release iOS 15 later this year – likely alongside the iPhone 13 – but you can try it out today if you have a spare device that you can install the public beta on.
We don’t recommend installing the beta version of iOS 15 on the iPhone you use day in and day out: it’s pre-release software, so bugs and crashes aren’t so much expected as they are required. Beta versions have been known to cause major problems in the past, and you are usually not taken care of for significant technical support if something goes wrong.
However, we have reviewed iOS 15 safely, so you don’t have to. After putting it to the test, there are a lot of new things to excite and delight. These are our favorites so far.
Focus mode and scheduled notifications
We really, really, really love this feature. In previous versions of iOS, notifications are all or nothing, but with iOS 15 you can create a much more flexible system. You can do this in two ways: by setting up different focus modes, which are different types of Do Not Disturb that restrict notifications to particular people and applications; and setting up scheduled summaries, which aggregate non-urgent notifications and deliver them to you at a time you specify.
It’s good for everyone, but it’s especially good for those of us who use our devices for work as well as for play: it means take out and stores can’t send us ping while we’re working, and Slack stays silent when we’re not. at work.
Live text recognition
Live Text Recognition has been around for years in various formats, but it still looks magical and the iOS 15 implementation is very good. When your iPhone recognizes text, it places a small icon on the screen that you can use to select, copy, search, translate, or share it – for example, you can paste from a business card into your app Contacts, or a block of text in notes.
It also turns certain types of text into dynamic links, so if it recognizes something like a phone number, you can tap it to call it – if it sees that it’s a website address. , you can go there directly.
A very different Safari
Safari’s new interface has been very divisive, especially on iPad: things that used to take a single click are now harder to do, and the interface color change can be shocking. But there’s a lot to like here, especially on iPhone: the customizable start page is useful, and Shared With You takes content sent to you through Messages and puts it in front of you in Safari.
There is still room for improvement – the tab bar at the bottom of the screen on iPhone is weird, and by “weird” we mean “awful” – but Apple is currently receiving very vocal feedback from beta testers, so we expect the interface to evolve before iOS 15 is finalized.
More powerful cards
This one really depends on where you live: New Maps features roll out first in major cities across the United States and then trickle down to the rest of us, so not everyone. will not yet be able to take advantage of the new AR mode for directions, where you hold the camera and it recognizes the horizon line and indicates where to go live on the camera view.
However, the refreshed interface is clearer and easier to read for everyone, with great use of color, and so far it seems to be a lot more detailed in its street level knowledge as well. The little cartoon style is also just plain adorable, as well as being incredibly practical because it is easy to understand.
More fun with FaceTime
FaceTime felt a bit dated, but not anymore. Now you can web chat with Android and Windows users, you can schedule calls, and the new Portrait feature blurs the background so no one can see your room is full of pants. If it looks like ZoomGoogleMeetTeams and all the other video conferencing apps, it’s because it looks a lot like them – but that’s not a bad thing.
And Apple has made some big changes to FaceTime’s audio, with Spatial Audio intelligently making the sound appear to come from the on-screen position of the person speaking, and adding good background noise reduction. You can also set up shared viewing sessions with a new feature called SharePlay, so that you all watch the same (synced) movie during a FaceTime call.
iOS 15 is still a work in progress and it has some obvious flaws, such as the weirdness of the new Safari. But it’s also a big upgrade that’s going to be pretty special on your existing iPad or iPhone.