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iOS 15 Preview – 42 new features for iPhone and iPad

WWDC is in full swing, having kicked off just yesterday with a jam-packed opening keynote that gave us a first look at Apple’s upcoming software releases. Of particular interest to us were the sections covering iPhone and iPad – or, to be more specific, iOS 15 and iPadOS 15. These updates will be released to the public around September after a summer of beta testing, but Apple showcased many of the new features already.

A thorough read through Apple’s press releases reveals a few features that didn’t get any air time at the keynote, so chances are there are things you missed here even if you already read our main keynote recap. So let’s take a proper look, eh? Here are all 42 new and updating features coming soon to iPhone and iPad.

New in iOS 15

Focus lets users choose what they’d like to focus on – personal time, work, sleep, or something custom – and iOS will intelligently silence notifications from specific contacts or apps not only on your iPhone, but across all of your devices.

Live Text lets you point your device at printed or handwritten text and select, copy, and paste it into a message or email – it even works with images that are already in the Photos app, allowing you to look up the name of a restaurant or dial a number from nothing more than a picture.

Visual Lookup works in a similar way to Live Text, but lets you look up information based on an image – like the breed of a cat, or the name of a landmark.

Notification summary provides an intelligently grouped collection of your non-essential notifications which can be scheduled for delivery at a more convenient time of your choosing.

SharePlay makes it easier to create a shared experience while on a FaceTime call, and includes options for sharing music, watching TV or movies, or sharing your screen with friends and family on your iPhone, iPad, or even on Apple TV.

Shared with You is a new consume-it-later feature for the Messages app that automatically imports shared images, playlists, and Web content to apps like Photos, Music, News, TV, Podcasts, and Safari for later browsing.

App Privacy Report provides a transparent breakdown of all the apps which have requested to access and track your data, including all data requests and all contact with third-party websites.

Digital Legacy allows you to add people to your iCloud account as legacy contacts who can access your account if the worst should happen – think of it like a digital will.

iCloud+ is a rebranding of Apple’s paid iCloud plans that comes with a couple of new features: Private Relay and Hide My Email (see below).

Private Relay ensures that the traffic leaving your device is encrypted and sent through two secure Internet relays, meaning that your data is ultra-secure – it’s similar to a VPN.

Hide my email lets you share a unique, random email that forwards mail to your personal or professional email accounts – effectively serving as random burner emails that Mail and Safari can create on the fly.

Walking Steadiness uses your iPhone’s built-in motion sensors to detect subtle changes in your mobility and gait which could place you at risk of falling – the Health app will also include custom exercises that will help if your mobility becomes compromised.

Trends monitors wider aspects of your health and wellbeing, including sleep and blood glucose, and can provide early insight into emergent health issues.

Health Sharing allows users to share aspects of their Health data with family members – it’s also possible to securely share specific data with a medical practitioner, too.

Updated in iOS 15

FaceTime is becoming more natural, comfortable, and accessible through the addition of spatial audio and new microphone options (voice isolation and wide spectrum), along with a grid view, Portrait Mode, and Zoom-inspired links.

Do Not Disturb now works alongside Apple’s Focus to inform friends and family in the Messages app when you have Do Not Disturb enabled.

Messages is also getting neat collage-style grouping for shared images.

Spotlight is adding support for photo search, allowing users to search by person, location, scene, or even text, alongside rich results for contacts.

Wallet is getting support for keys, including corporate badges, hotel room keys, and keys for smart locks, along with support for identity cards and driving licenses.

Weather offers a whole new design, including an in-app map and brand-new animations to reflect different real-world weather conditions.

Maps is getting a new zoomed-out globe view, enhanced turn-by-turn directions, and live rendering of more complex intersections.

Memoji are getting new outfits!

Translate is adding system-wide translation, allowing you to translate between languages anywhere on your device.

Safari is becoming even more secure, adding enhanced privacy for users – it’s also easier to use one-handed and has a new-look start page and tab setup.

iCloud is adding enhanced account recovery via a dedicated recovery contact, along with its iCloud+ features.

Health will explain your lab results, making them easier for users to understand.

Siri is getting more diverse voice options and on-device speech recognition, which isn’t only more secure – it’s a lot quicker. Siri is also more intelligent and will read time-sensitive notifications to you; it’s also getting support for Announce Notifications on AirPods.

Find My now makes it easier to find AirPods Pro and AirPods Max – users will also receive a separation alert if they have left their AirPods behind.

HomeKit Secure Video is also getting support for unlimited feeds as part of the iCloud+ top tier.

TV now includes a row titled “For All of You,” where a collection of shows and movies based on the interests of selected people or an entire household will be available to browse through.

Accessibility features are even more comprehensive, offering new features for VoiceOver, Headphone Accommodations, and more.

New in iPadOS 15

Quick Note lets you create an app-specific note by swiping from the corner of your iPad’s screen ­– you can easily add links from apps or swipe between different notes.

Home Screen widgets are coming to iPadOS, allowing users to place widgets directly on their iPad’s Home Screen – new widgets, like Find My and Contacts, alongside a larger widget format designed especially for iPad, will also be available.

App Library is making the leap to iPad, allowing users to hide pages which they no longer need – along with a permanent link from the dock.

Translate is launching on iPad, bringing on-device translation to Apple’s tablet.

Updated in iPadOS

Notes is getting support for mentions, a new activity view for collaboration, and tags.

Multitasking now has a dedicated menu that appears at the top of the iPad’s screen with a tap, allowing you to activate Split View or swap apps in and out much easier.

Shelf is another aspect of the new multitasking features, allowing users to view open windows in a new interface at the bottom of the iPad’s screen.

App Switcher now lets you create a Split View by dragging one app over another.

Keyboard shortcuts for iPadOS’s new multitasking features are also going to be available.

Safari now has a redesigned interface that lets you preview tabs as you browse, or group them together – and like macOS before it, there’s now room for custom Safari extensions.

Swift Playground is finally adding the ability to build apps right on iPad and to even submit them to the App Store – although not quite a native Xcode for iPadOS, the feature does play nice with Xcode for macOS.