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Apple iOS 15: what's new and cool with Apple's upcoming iPhone features for 2021

By Liu Hongzuo - on 12 Jun 2021, 10:11am

Apple iOS 15: what's new and cool with Apple's upcoming iPhone features for 2021

Note: This article was first published on 8 June 2021.

iOS 15 in a nutshell.

At Apple's WWDC 2021, the company started the keynote with a banger - iOS 15, and a quick down-low on all its key features and changes. Here's what we caught from their sharing.


FaceTime gets more intimate with a better view and better party-sharing

Apple recognises how video calls have taken centre stage in the new ways we've come to work and unwind and has thus introduced a bumper pack of features to FaceTime and its related use cases.

A new Grid View comes to FaceTime's group video calls, making it easy to see more call participants in one go. To help users focus on the person, iPhone users get Portrait Mode in FaceTime by blurring the background in a bokeh.

Share parties are now a thing with Apple's new SharePlay features. SharePlay is a content-sharing API that cuts across Apple Music, video streaming apps, where it bridges ongoing content (music, shows, etc.) with other callers on a FaceTime group call to enjoy the same music and shows in sync.

SharePlay works across iPhone, iPad, and Mac, and it offered shared media controls with anyone in a SharePlay session on FaceTime.

As it's an API that has to work with content providers, Apple said it's already working on SharePlay incorporation on various apps like Disney+, ESPN+, HBO Max, Hulu, MasterClass, Paramount+, Pluto TV, TikTok, Twitch, and many others, which will all be available at the launch of iOS 15.

Finally, FaceTime Link makes it easier to schedule video calls beyond the Apple ecosystem. iOS users can create an URL link from iPhone, iPad, or Mac and share the FaceTime Link via Messages, Calendar, Mail, and other third-party apps. Non iOS users (like Android or Windows) can jump into a FaceTime video call via their devices' web browsers, which are end-to-end encrypted for added privacy and safety.


iOS 15 brings Focus, declutters even further

A new group of features called Focus will help users on iOS 15 filter out the noise and clutter in their lives, with a little help from "on-device intelligence".

For a start, Focus is contextual, and it only permits certain groups of people and apps to notify users at certain times of the day. For instance, a user can use Focus to create a Home Screen for a specific need (i.e. at work, at rest etc.) to centralise all critical apps needed while moving aside 'tempting' apps. When non-permitted users reach out to someone using Focus, their non-reachable status will be automatically displayed to others in Messages.

Notifications get streamlined with built-in prioritisation called Notification Summary. At scheduled times, the Apple device floats up important notifications to the top. In contrast, less important notifications will make way - although you can still enjoy or peruse them or if you continue scrolling through your notifications barrage.

Live Text gives both iOS's Camera and Photos app the ability to transcribe text - either by transcribing a freshly-taken text-heavy photo or older existing photos with text on it. The text can be easily copied over into other apps, like Mail. According to Apple, Live Text currently works with English and Chinese (Traditional and Simplified).

Further to transcription, the Spotlight search function now cuts across photos, locations, people, scenes, and objects, on top of enabling text search for these bits of information (thanks to Live Text). Spotlight can even find handwritten text in photos too.


More types of digital keys and State IDs for your Apple Wallet

Apple Wallet's digital car keys (via UWB support) are coming 'later this year', and Apple is now adding other digital keys - including house or office keys, hotel room keys (starting with Hyatt as a hotel partner).

Also new to Apple Wallet is the ability to scan and contain State IDs (like a driver's license), although the ID feature is currently limited to U.S. use and only coming 'later this year'.


Weathering high-definition storms via the Weather app

The Weather app will get high-resolution, full-screen, dynamic weather maps and big meteorological upgrades to provide more weather information to its users - like the sun's position, precipitation, and notification highlights when rain or snow starts/stops.


Apple Maps now puts the person first

Apple Maps gets more road detail to the benefit of drivers, so they can see things like bus and taxi lanes, turn lanes, crosswalks, and bike lanes - making it much safer and easier to navigate in bustling places. These extra details are also inside CarPlay, so it's automatically compatible with your GPS needs.

Maps also make it easier for public transport commuters to know that they are due to alight at their upcoming stop, and people who require more detailed walking directions can hold up their iPhones for an Augmented Reality-guided walking map.


Availability of iOS 15

The developer beta for iOS 15 is available now, and public beta for the Apple smartphone operating system will come in July 2021.

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