In 2021, Apple took advantage of the announcement of iOS 14.5 to bring major updates to its flagship smartphone lineup. Among these new features, we had Transparency in Tracking in Apps and the long-awaited iPhone screen unlock using Appe Watch. So, our expectations about iOS 15 were not very high.
However, during WWDC 2021 we had great surprises, especially regarding the iOS notification system and FaceTime. Check it all out below.
Apple brought a lot of features for FaceTime with iOS 15, especially related to video calls, which intend to offer an experience more like the one we would have in a non-virtual environment. To this end, we have the spatial audio feature, which makes the audio of who is speaking more soft and directional, to give that impression of location in the call.
Another interesting option is noise isolation and focus on the caller’s voice, which happens directly in the iPhones microphone. Using Machine Learning (ML), the system blocks the background noise and prioritizes the voice of who is speaking. The example used in the keynote was quite impressive. In it, a vacuum cleaner was on and the noise was completely removed by activating the function directly on the call screen.
We’ve also had changes to the video call’s participant grid, which is larger and allows you to get a wider view of who’s in the conversation with you.In addition, we now have the option to blur the background of videos during the video call, in the best Portrait Mode style of the iPhone.
Apple also brought to FaceTime the “Links” feature, which makes it much easier to share the link to the call with participants – yes, it’s too reminiscent of Google Meet and Zoom. This makes a big difference for Apple, as we’re talking about allowing Android (and Windows) users to participate in these conversations via Facetime!
Another super cool new FaceTime feature in iOS 15 is “Share Play”. It will be much easier to share media during a voice call and you can even share your own screen. Well done, Apple!
During the presentation, a demonstration showed how fluid this feature is in iOS 15: in the call, you can share a movie and watch with all participants in real time – yes, Disney+ must have appeared in your memory now. Using the Picture-in-Picture feature, you can continue browsing on mobile and, if you want, you can even play the movie on your Apple TV while on the call. It really is state of the art… if it works that well.
The Messages app is smarter visually. The “Shared with me” feature now enables a number of functions that have long been needed in messengers. The app organizes all links shared with you, for example, in one place, making it easy to quickly access such information. This goes for news and photos as well.
It’s really similar to what WhatsApp does today, but it also offers the option to pin the most relevant links, news and even songs that were sent in the chat.
iOS 15: custom notifications based on your activity
From iOS 15, we will have new ways to interact with notifications. This is because the system starts to consider different activity profiles. For example, if you’re at work, notifications may have no sound, while at home they use another setting. The name of this is “Notification Summary”.
Each person will be able to choose between different categories such as driving, working or sleeping and also create their own ratings. These modes can then be activated through the lock screen and Control Center. Apple’s idea here is to let people more focused on the action they are currently performing.
Oh, and all suggestions offered by the system to be part of your profiles will be done locally, on the device itself without going through the company’s servers, what Apple calls “on device intelligence”.
The auto-response feature is also present here. It will work in the same way as the “Do not disturb while driving” feature. That is, an automatic message will be sent informing you that you won’t be able to reply at the moment because you’re driving, for example. It is worth saying here that many people who use iPhone do not like this feature, because it is clearly an invasion of privacy, so they leave the option disabled by default.
Anyway, each profile will have a specific configuration. During the keynote, a demonstration of these custom notifications even showed the home screen changing to give place only to the services chosen by you for each activity profile.
Also, once you select your Notification Summary, your choices will be automatically configured across all your Apple devices. Which could prove to be a problem in my opinion, as you might not want the profile selected on your phone at the same time you’re on your computer.
Finally, it is also worth mentioning that the icons that appear in notifications are also larger, making it easier to identify between people and apps, facilitating our interaction with each notification.
Live Text is a copy of Google Lens basically. Using the iPhone’s camera, you can now copy text on images, search for objects, animals, and even art just a click away. This goes for images and text on the screen as well. The feature is available in seven languages.
Using the same principle, we have Spotlight Search, which brings the option to search images by locations and even by recognizing text on images.
Photos in iOS 15
A very cool feature added to Photos is the possibility of using Apple Music on Memories, giving more vigor to the app and the best of all is that this happens in real time. So while you browse between Memories, the system recognizes the context of the image and suggests the soundtrack.
I’m not a fan of the videos created by Google Photos, for example, with soundtracks, but in the WWDC demo, I have to be honest, I was pretty impressed.
Wallet: Apple wants you to leave Wallet at home!
I have to say, the Keys feature on Wallet would be a table turner in my life after September. Besides having a more secure Apple Pay system with iOS 15, the “Keys” feature was raised to the umpteenth power in my opinion.
With the new OS version, Apple will practically allow you to leave home without your wallet, because Keys will integrate a series of options, like opening your car without even removing your iPhone from your pocket using UWB technology. The same goes for the digital keys to your home or apartment. Even hotel room keys can be sent to your Wallet in advance using Keys. But that’s not the most interesting thing…
Apple starts offering a digital copy of your ID with iOS 15. Just scan in your ID and add it to Wallet via Keys. The data will, of course, be encrypted and private. Furthermore, during WWDC it was reported that this ID will be able to be used in airports during domestic travel across the US. Having the digital ID regulated right in the cell phone is amazing, no? Apple seems to have taken the first step in this path.
The weather app has been redesigned and will sync the background artwork with the actual weather information. Meaning, in a thunderstorm, you’ll soon see rays and lightning on the screen. In addition, we have the option to view the app in full screen and hi-res weather maps.
Maps is going to undergo a visual makeover as well, which in the demo looked quite futuristic and three-dimensional. We had the addition of an interactive globe and new details in the exploration of cities on the map, with more information about commerce, parks and buildings. The night mode was optimized.
Apple’s idea is to provide more relevant traffic information by taking into account the context in which drivers and pedestrians find themselves.
One new feature that caught attention because it’s very similar to Google’s AR solution in Maps, is the use of the same Augmented Reality technology in Apple Maps to locate you when you exit a subway station, for example, and don’t know which direction to go. It is relevant, yes, a lot, but there are services today that already deliver the same feature and maybe even better!
How to install the beta version of iOS 15 on your iPhone
Although much of the news that will be present in the final version of iOS 15 have already been revealed during WWDC21, we still have a long journey until you can use such features. However, developers and tech enthusiasts who have an account in Apple’s beta testing program will be able to download iOS 15 and test the new notifications. Developers starting today and the general public starting in July, when the public beta will be made available by Apple.
Warning: as this is an unstable version of the software, we do not recommend downloading iOS 15 on your primary smartphone.
So, when the public beta of iOS 15 is available, you can download and install this version for testing on your iPhone. However, first make a backup of the device on macOS or iTunes. Below, we explain how to perform the iOS 15 beta installation:
- Go to https://beta.apple.com/sp/betaprogram/.
- Click Sign up.
- Fill in your Apple ID and password.
- Read the terms and conditions, if you agree, click Accept.
- Select the desired operating system, iOS, in this case.
- Click the option enroll your iOS device, within the Get Started field.
- On iPhone, go to https://beta.apple.com/profile and download the configuration file.
- Then open Settings on the smartphone, select the registered profile and follow the instructions on the screen.
- To install the iOS beta, follow the traditional procedure: Settings> General> Software Update.
Well, this was a summary of what was presented today by Apple regarding the new features of iOS 15. During the day we will still produce other content that complements this article.
So, what did you think of the new features of iOS 15 presented today during WWDC 2021? Share your opinion with our community in the comments section below.