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An example of how iOS 15 looks on an iPhone
(Image credit: Apple)

iOS 15 was the highlight of WWDC 2021 in June, and it’s the next upgrade you can expect to land on your iPhone. You can now download the public beta, and we’ve tested iOS 15, and have some initial findings for you to read through.

A release date for iOS 15 was confirmed at the September 14 Apple event at which the company announced the iPhone 13 and other devices.

Want to give it a try right now? While the developer beta was released shortly after WWDC 2021, the iOS 15 public beta went live at the end of June, and it’s available for anyone with an iOS 15-compatible device.

This year, it looks like productivity is the theme for iOS 15, with improvements across the board, adding up to a substantial feature set over the previous release – read on for  details of features, supported devices and more.

Here’s everything you need to know about the iPhone 13Apple has also announced the Apple Watch 7Meet the New iPad (2021) and New iPad mini (2021)Read about the new features coming to iPadOS 15Latest news

Apple announced that iOS 15 is coming on September 20. Anyone with an iOS 15-compatible iPhone can try out the new OS.

iOS 15: cut to the chase

What is it? The next big update for iOSWhen is it out? September 20How much will it cost? It will be free, as always

iOS 15 release date

At the September 14 event, the iPhone 13, Apple Watch Series 7, and the iPad and iPad mini all saw new releases announced, but the release date for iOS 15 wasn’t confirmed.

Apple announced that iOS 15 is to be released on September 20, four days before the release of the iPhone 13 and 13 Pro.

We’re California Streaming on September 14th. See you real soon. 🏞 #AppleEvent pic.twitter.com/OjOvJFXlHdSeptember 7, 2021

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The public beta arrived ahead of schedule at the end of June, so anyone who has an iOS 15-compatible device can download it now. While the developer betas haven’t been too finicky, the public betas are typically less buggy, and should be a lot more stable for most users to try out on their main devices. Make sure to back up your device just in case before updating to iOS 15, and follow our guide for how to get iOS 15 beta on your phone. 

Of course, while we’re talking about iOS 15 here, so iPadOS 15 is also coming on September 20 for your iPad.

Meet Apple’s new updates: iPadOS 15 | watchOS 8 | macOS 12

iOS 15 supported devices

iOS 15 Supported Devices (Image credit: TechRadar)As Apple’s main section on iOS 15 states, the update will work with an iPhone 6S and above.

FaceTime improvements

FaceTime SharePlay (Image credit: Apple)Apple has brought new features to FaceTime in iOS 15, with a focus on making it easier to connect with family and friends, while improving the audio and visual quality.

Spatial audio is coming, which means 3D audio gives the impression that your recipients are in the same room as you.

Voice isolation now focuses on your voice only, and blocks out any other ambient noise. There’s also Wide Spectrum, which focuses on you and the environment around you.

There’s also Grid View, which shows a group call, alongside Portrait Mode coming to the application. The background is now blurred, and focuses on you.

There’s also FaceTime links, which can generate a link to help plan a call, similar to how a Google Meet link works.

(Image credit: TechRadar)SharePlay is also new in iOS 15, where you can share music, watch TV shows and movies, alongside sharing your screen, so you can show a recipient how you use a certain app.

You can also extend SharePlay to an AppleTV, which is helpful especially for a movie. This is also an API, so an app can work with this very soon.

Supported services such as Disney+, Twitch, ESPN, TikTok and more are using SharePlay for iOS 15.

However, SharePlay won’t arrive when iOS 15 does, with Apple holding it back for a future release of iOS 15, perhaps iOS 15.1.

Messages

(Image credit: Apple)Another massive improvement to iOS 15, group chats now gain collages, as a way to easily display multiple images.

Shared with You in the News app shows what your friends have shared with you, such as links, and they can be easily copied into a Messages chat. It’s also available in Safari, Music and more apps.

There’s also statuses, which look very similar to WhatsApp and other messaging apps.

You can even mute notifications in group chats if you wish, individually. So if you want to mute for an hour or for a day, now you can.

Notifications

(Image credit: Apple)After many refinements over the years, notifications are now redesigned for iOS 15. Notification Summary is now here, where these can be scheduled to appear at certain times, or even by Apple’s own machine learning algorithms.

This looks to replace Notification Center, with better management for all your notifications on your iPhone.

Do Not Disturb is also part of the improvements here, with it showing for your friends and family if they have it switched on themselves.

Focus is also another feature for Notification Summary, which recommends you on your lock screen to let you know of certain apps, dependant on your calendar and even your location.

Apple are pushing Intelligence as a big part of this, which looks to be their renamed machine learning methods, such as for Siri Suggestions.

Notification improvements in iOS 15 (Image credit: Apple)

Safari

Safari sees a redesign in iOS 15 (Image credit: Apple)Apple’s web browser has seen a big redesign in iOS 15, with extensions being carried over from macOS, to the iPhone.

The address bar is now at the bottom, with gestures to easily switch between different tabs and go back to a full screen view, alongside a pull to refresh web window, similar to refreshing your mail or even your tweets, now in Safari.

There’s also a new home screen, which you can customize to your liking and even choose your own photos.

Many buttons that were accessible are now hidden behind a button, so this user interface may change as we receive new betas in the coming months.

During the beta period, Safari saw a lot of design changes, which has now resulted in a design that more reflects iOS 14, with some small design improvements.

You can have the address bar to be at the top as before, or at the bottom so you can easily reach your thumb.

Live Text

(Image credit: Apple)Craig Federighi also demoed a feature where you can take a photo of text, and it will highlight it, and then copy it into a document, or even translate it. This is a direct competitor to Google Lens and looks to be very convenient if you take many photos or you have a holiday booked.

Photos

(Image credit: Apple)Photos are now in Spotlight suggestions, so you can look for someone in particular who are in a photo you’ve recently taken.

There’s also improvements to intelligent Photos called Memories, where it creates new slideshows and carousels of photo collections with music, and it even shows the music being played during this.

Apple Wallet

(Image credit: Apple)Apple Wallet has seen another improvement in iOS 15, with CarKey gaining U1 support, which allows you to unlock your car, or even open your trunk.

There’s also the ability to enter your workplace or home with Wallet, and soon, hotels such as Hyatt will be enabling this feature for iOS 15 enabled devices.

Identity cards such as driving licences (in the US) will also be viewable in Apple Wallet, with TSA enabling security checkpoints soon.

Other features

(Image credit: Apple)As shown in its breakdown of all iOS 15 features, the magnifier is now back when you highlight text, making it much easier to see the letters and words that you want to manipulate.

The weather app is now redesigned, taking advantage of the Dark Sky acquisition from last year, with more detailed and more accurate weather, with high-resolution weather maps to see the state of the weather around you.

There’s now notifications for when rain or snow is about to occur in the next hour, and you can even mute certain cities that you’ve added from within the app, to control the amount of alerts you may get from however many cities you’ve added.

(Image credit: Apple)The Maps app is seeing some useful improvements in iOS 15, with new details for commercial districts and buildings. Elevations and a refreshed color scheme has also arrived, with landmarks being particularly highlighted.

Drivers are also gaining a refined look when setting routes from one destination to another, making it even easier to look at highway interchanges and upcoming traffic conditions.

You can now create favorites to your transit routes, so you can make sure of your commute, and even when you’re in the subway, Maps will track your progress, and let you know of the next stop.

(Image credit: Apple)Widgets have seen more improvements this year, with new ones for Find My, Game Center, App Store Today, Sleep, Mail, and more.

While Control Center hasn’t seen a redesign this year, there are more easy access points for Focus and much more, alongside a redesigned Siri Remote for Apple TV devices.

Mail improvements in iOS 15 (Image credit: Apple)With Shortcuts now available on macOS Monterey, it also means that any you create or edit can now be synced to your iPhone on iOS 15, so you can carry on the work on your Mac.

Shortcuts on macOS Monterey (Image credit: Apple)There’s plenty of small features that users are already discovering now that the developer beta is here.

Your DualSense or Xbox Controller can now have their rumble features be used when playing a game in iOS 15, so your games can be much easier to control if there’s a plethora of controls that are covering your iPhone’s touch screen.

When selecting a date and time for when you’re setting an alarm, or an event in Calendar, you can now scroll through these times as you could in previous iOS releases. Now, you have the choice of scrolling or typing in the date and time you need to add.

You can now pull to refresh in the redesigned Safari, alongside muting notifications in an app or a Messages thread for either an hour or a day, similar to how you can mute chats in WhatsApp.

With drag and drop now in iOS 15, you can select a photo from Files, and drop it into an email for example, making it much easier to share your files and photos between applications.

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Daryl had been freelancing for 3 years before joining TechRadar, now reporting on everything software-related. In his spare time, he’s written a book, ‘The Making of Tomb Raider’, alongside podcasting and usually found playing games old and new on his PC and iPad. If you have a story about a newly-updated app or one that’s about to launch, drop him a line.

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