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Apple introduces iOS 15 with Facetime Spatial audio, SharePlay, Live Text and more

New software features will be available this fall as a free software update for iPhone 6s and later.

At the WWDC 2021, Apple has announced iOS 15, the next iteration of iOS with many new features. The iOS 15 comes with improvements to FaceTime, Focus, Notifications, new Live Text feature, Improved privacy, and more.

The developer preview of iOS 15 is available to Apple Developer Program members at developer.apple.com starting today, and a public beta will be available to iOS users next month at beta.apple.com. New software features will be available this fall as a free software update for iPhone 6s and later.

FaceTime

With spatial audio, voices in a FaceTime call sound like they are coming from where the person is positioned on the screen, and new microphone modes separate the user’s voice from background noise. Portrait mode is now available for FaceTime and designed specifically for video calls, so users can blur their background and put themselves in focus. While using Group FaceTime, a new grid view enables participants to see more faces simultaneously.

FaceTime

Users can now share experiences with SharePlay while connecting with friends on FaceTime, including listening to songs together with Apple Music, watching a TV show or movie in sync, or sharing their screen to view apps together. SharePlay works across iPhone, iPad, and Mac, and with shared playback controls, anyone in a SharePlay session can play, pause, or jump ahead. SharePlay even extends to Apple TV, so users can watch shows or movies on a big screen while connecting over FaceTime, and SharePlay will keep everyone’s playback in sync.

New Notifications Experience

Notifications have been redesigned, adding contact photos for people and larger icons for apps that make them even easier to identify. To help reduce distraction, a new notification summary collects non-time-critical notifications for delivery at a more opportune time, such as in the morning and evening. Using on-device intelligence, notifications are arranged by priority, with the most relevant notifications rising to the top and based on a user’s interactions with apps. Urgent messages will be delivered immediately, so important communications will not end up in summary, and it’s easy to temporarily mute any app or messaging thread for the next hour or the day.

Live Text, Advanced Spotlight Search, and More

Live Text uses on-device intelligence to recognise text in a photo and allow users to take action. For example, users can search for and locate the picture of a handwritten family recipe or capture a phone number from a storefront with the option to place a call. With the power of the Apple Neural Engine, the Camera app can also quickly recognise and copy the text in the moment, such as the Wi-Fi password displayed at a local coffee shop.

With Visual Look Up, users can learn more about popular art and landmarks worldwide, plants and flowers found in nature, breeds of pets, and even find books. Spotlight now uses intelligence to search photos by location, people, scenes, or objects and use Live Text. It can find text and handwriting in photos. Spotlight now offers web image search and all-new rich results for actors, musicians, TV shows, and movies. Enhanced results for contacts show recent conversations, shared photos, and even their location if shared through Find My.

Browsing Experience with Safari

Safari gets a new design that makes controls easier to reach with one hand and puts content front and center. The new tab bar is compact and lightweight and floats at the bottom of the screen, so users can easily swipe between tabs. Tab Groups allow users to save tabs and easily access them at any time across iPhone, iPad, or Mac. New features, such as the customisable start page and web extensions on iOS, make Safari even more personal and powerful.

Apple Maps

Users will experience significantly enhanced details in cities for neighbourhoods, commercial districts, elevation, buildings, new road colours and labels, custom-designed landmarks, and a new night-time mode with a moonlit glow. This is a whole new way of looking at the world through Maps. When navigating using iPhone or CarPlay, Maps features a three-dimensional city-driving experience with new road details that help users better see and understand important details like turn lanes, medians, bike lanes, and pedestrian crosswalks. Maps automatically follow along with a selected transit route, notifying users when it’s nearly time to disembark, and riders can even keep track on Apple Watch. With iOS 15, users can hold up iPhone, and Maps generates a highly accurate position to deliver detailed walking directions in augmented reality.

Maps

New Keys and State IDs Come to Apple Wallet

Apple Wallet adds support for additional types of keys, making it possible to access everyday places with just a tap. Last summer, Apple introduced digital car keys, and BMW was the first car company to add its keys, allowing users to tap to unlock. This year, digital car keys get even better with support for Ultra-Wideband technology, so users can securely unlock and start their supported vehicle without removing their iPhone from a pocket or bag. iPhone can also be used to unlock a user’s home, office, or even a hotel room — all through keys stored in Wallet.

Later this year, customers in participating states will be able to add their driver’s license or state IDs to Wallet. The Transportation Security Administration is working to enable airport security checkpoints as the first place customers can use their digital Identity Card in Wallet. Identity Cards in Wallet are encrypted and safely stored in the Secure Element, the same hardware technology that makes Apple Pay private and secure.

New Privacy Features

iOS 15 introduces even more privacy controls to help protect user information. With on-device speech recognition, the audio of Siri requests is now processed entirely on iPhone by default, and performance improves significantly. Mail Privacy Protection stops senders from learning whether an email has been opened and hides IP addresses, so senders can’t learn a user’s location or use it to build a profile on them. App Privacy Report offers an overview of how apps use the access that has been granted to location, photos, camera, microphone, and contacts in the last seven days and which other domains are contacted.

Redesigned Weather and Notes Apps

Weather includes more graphical displays of weather data, full-screen maps, and dynamic layouts that change based on conditions. Beautifully redesigned animated backgrounds more accurately reflect the sun’s position and precipitation, and notifications highlight when rain or snow starts and stops. Notes add user-created tags that make it easy to categorize notes quickly, and mentions allow members of shared notes to notify one another of important updates. An all-new Activity view shows the recent history of a shared note.

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