Just like clockwork, Apple announced yet another iteration of the iOS at WWDC 2021. The iOS 15 adds to the comprehensive feature set of iOS 14 and offers better privacy, intuitive features, and a tighter ecosystem. If you weren’t glued to the live stream like I was then you may have missed some cool iOS 15 features. Fret not, I have compiled a list of all the best iOS 15 new features, tips, and tricks to use the iPhone effectively. Let’s begin.
iOS 15 Tips and Tricks
As of writing this article, iOS 15 is only available to users enrolled in the developer program and the public beta would be released sometime in July 2021. However, you can install the iOS 15 developer beta on the iPhone right now using the linked guide.
1. FaceTime Friends on Android and Windows
FaceTime is still very much an Apple-exclusive video calling service but Apple has benevolently decided to let you connect with friends from outside the walled garden. FaceTime Links would let you start video calls with anyone joining with the link that you shared. This can be a Windows laptop, an Android smartphone, or a Chromebook.
This doesn’t mean you would be able to call from your Android smartphone. A FaceTime link can only be generated from an iPhone, iPad, or Mac but anyone with the link can join the call. It’s not perfect but it’s a start.
Simply open the FaceTime app on your iPhone and tap Create Link. You can then share this link with your friends to join in on the fun.
Other feature additions to FaceTime include Portrait mode, voice isolation mode, wide spectrum mode, and zooming in.
2. SharePlay – Watch Films, Listen Music, and Share Screen
SharePlay is a feature built-in FaceTime that allows you to watch movies and listen to music together with friends, and even share your iPhone screen. This comes in handy as it allows you to stay connected via FaceTime and still do stuff with your friends. It’s like Watch Party but on iPhone. App developers can integrate this functionality using API to bring SharePlay to their apps but Screen Sharing works right out of the box.
Simply tap the Share Screen button on the top to start sharing your screen.
3. Focus Mode – Not just Do Not Disturb
iOS 15 introduced Focus mode that is basically a customizable DND section. Instead of just silencing calls and notifications, Focus mode lets you control which notifications gets through. There are four modes: Sleep, Work, Personal, and DND. You can even create your own customized modes prioritizing apps and contacts of your preference.
4. All New Notifications Summary
It’s a love-hate relationship between users and Apple’s notification implementation. With iOS 15, Notifications Summary would club all the important notifications and present them in a big clump of notification blocks. You can schedule the timing or receive the summary every morning or evening. The summary would learn from your behavior and update the apps that require instant attention and push back others that are not that attention-worthy.
5. Apple Maps
Apple Maps have come a long way since its inception (both figuratively and literally). The all-new design would present the cities in a detailed 3D rendered landscape with intuitive tools such as immersive walking directions, new driving features, and an option to choose a preferred method of commute.
6. Private Relay | VPN
Private Relay is a completely new feature that acts as a VPN for all intents and purposes but you don’t get to choose a remote server. It works in Safari and encrypts all outgoing requests made by the browser which go through two servers. It aims to increase privacy and anonymity on the internet. Once activated, you would be able to access all blocked sites that have been disabled by your ISP.
This feature comes bundled with iCloud+ so if you’ve purchased iCloud storage or have an Apple One subscription then Private Relay would be already active for you.
You can check the status by navigating to Settings> Apple ID> iCloud> Private Relay> Turn ON.
7. Safari | It’s Got Extensions
Safari browser on the iPhone gets a decent amount of spec bump with iOS 15 but the most important one is the addition of Safari Extensions. Desktop browser users would know there are plenty of Chrome and Safari extensions that enhance functionality. Now, you would be able to install extensions on Safari on iPhone as well. It would allow you to unlock features such as ad-blocking, PIP for YouTube, and so many other things.
Other than that, Safari would now automatically upgrade HTTP requests to HTTPs, customize the start page, streamline the tab bar, and offer intelligent tracking protection.
8. Live Text | Copy Text from Images
One of the most intuitive features of the iPhone has been the ability to recognize QR codes from the Camera app without needing any third-party apps. Building on that, iPhone Camera would now seamlessly detect written text from the viewfinder and let you instantly copy and paste it anywhere in the iPhone.
Not just that, it would also work in the Photos app for your existing images. Along with that, you would be able to detect objects in a photo such as flowers, books, mountains, etc. It’s going to tremendously help in searching for that image you took three years ago.
9. Health | Track your Entire Family’s Health
Apple already takes pride in offering a cohesive ecosystem that benefits from every Apple device. The Health app now offers the option to share your health data with your family which means you can track the elderly and their health if they choose to share the data with you. Health app can now track walking steadiness, blood glucose, lab test results, and covid immunization results.
10. Manage Your App Accounts
iOS has this feature where you can use Apple’s randomly generated email id to create an account in an app. With iOS 15, you can now manage individual accounts and remove them if you want. This feature has an added benefit that prevents those apps from sending spam or contacting you on your real email id.
You can find it under Settings > Apple ID > iCloud > Hide my email.
11. Offline Siri
Up until iOS 14, Siri required an active internet connection to perform even the simplest of tasks such as opening an app, setting a timer, or turning on Bluetooth. However, now Siri has been equipped with advanced ML that would process most commands offline. What’s even better is that all the conversations with Siri would stay on the iPhone giving you peace and privacy.
12. Digital Legacy
You can appoint a nominee within iPhone and they can claim access to your phone data if you die. This makes sense and it’s the right step for people who die in an accident leaving behind a locked iPhone that can not be unlocked. Now, you can pass on your digital legacy efficiently.
13. Background Sounds
The iPhone now comes equipped with a noise generator that would allow you to play a balanced background noise such as white or black noise at all times. You can adjust how loud the volume of the noise should be when idle and when the media is playing. The sounds include balanced noise, bright noise, dark noise, ocean, rain, and stream.
Navigate to Settings > Accessibility > Audio/Visual > Background Sounds.
14. Tags in Notes
I use Notes all the time but even I acknowledge the limitations of the app when compared with competitors like Google Keep. With tags coming to Notes on iOS 15, it would become so much easier to search for specific notes such as recipes, directions, or secret keyphrases by searching for hashtags.
Simply add #tag_name in a note and it would appear on the main Notes Screen. You can then tap the tag to search all the notes containing the tag.
15. Cross-App Drag and Drop
This is going to be a powerful iOS 15 feature if implemented effectively. With iOS 15, you can drag and drop files, photos, and text from one app to another. Simply touch and hold the file or text you’re trying to copy and as the pop-up menu shows up, drag the file upwards to enable drag mode. Now, use your second finger to swipe and move to another app and simply drop the file there. It’s really easy.
What’s Your Favorite iOS 15 Feature
These were some of the best iOS 15 new features that are a welcome addition and offer a superior experience. My favorite iOS 15 new features include tags in the Notes app and Safari Extensions. What’s your pick? Which iOS 15 feature you can’t wait to try? Let me know on Twitter.