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Article Source: Macworld.   Author: David Price, Macworld Editor

iOS 15 has arrived on iPhones. Here are the new features you can enjoy on your iPhone and details of the problems people have encountered.

At WWDC in June 2021 Apple announced iOS 15, the latest major update for the company’s iPhone operating system. iOS 15 eventually arrived on iPhone on 20 September 2021 and bought interface changes, security fixes and a raft of new features. If your iPhone supports the update, you can install it for free.

In this article Macworld outline everything you need to know about the iOS 15 software update: details of the interface changes and new features coming to your iPhone – as well as features Apple is still working on that will arrive in later updates; the devices (both iPhones and iPods) that can install the new software; the latest version of the iOS 15 software (which has already been updated!), including beta versions; and any problems with iOS 15 that people are reporting.

What’s the latest version of iOS 15?

The new iPhone operating system for 2021 is iOS 15. It initially arrived on 20 September 2021.

However, that isn’t the latest version. On 25 October Apple issued the first major update (but actually the third update) to iOS 15. iOS 15.1 brings some features that weren’t ready when iOS 15 launched, and fixes some bugs.

An iOS 15.0.1 update on 1 October addressed an Apple Watch iPhone unlocking issue and a problem with the system showing the wrong amount of storage available, both are discussed below. Then on 11 October Apple released iOS 15.0.2, which fixes a number of bugs, including a security issue.

These point updates enable Apple to add some of the previously announced features that didn’t make it into the final versions of iOS 15, iPadOS 15 and tvOS 15. For a few examples, read Eight iOS 15 features that will be missing at launch.

What’s in iOS 15.1?

iOS 15.1 brings the following new features and improvements:

  • In iOS 15.1 Apple has made it possible to turn off the automatic macro mode.
  • iOS 15.1 adds support for ProRes video. To use the high-resolution ProRes format, you need an iPhone 13 Pro or iPhone 13 Pro Max with at least 256GB of storage.
  • Another new feature that comes with iOS 15.1 and iPad OS 15.1 is SharePlay. This feature makes it possible to watch movies and TV shows with your friends remotely.
  • You will be able to adds COVID-19 vaccination records in Wallet.
  • Lossless audio for HomePod – Apple had said that lossless audio support for Apple Music would arrive on HomePod with iOS 15, but despite being tested in the third iOS 15 beta, it was later removed. Now it seems that Apple is bringing it back. More information here: HomePod gets support for Lossless Audio (again.)
  • It appears that Apple has attempted to fix some of the bugs in iOS 15 (which we run through in more detail in the next section). Bug fixes for a problem with AirPods Pro are included in the iOS 15.1 beta, for example.

Read more about iOS 15.1 here: What’s in iOS 15.1: new features and bug fixes.

What’s in iOS 15.0.2?

The iOS 15.0.2 update included the following fixes:

  • A security gap that, according to Apple’s security notes, had already been exploited. The error affected Apple’s “IOMobileFrameBuffer” interface (used to control the screen). Malicious code could lead to overflow of memory; gaining unauthorized access to kernels. Jailbreakers use such vulnerabilities to break the system and install a jailbreak, but we are not aware of a jailbreak for iOS 15 so it seems the vulnerability may have been used for malicious purposes
  • An issue where pictures stored in the photo library received via the Messages app would be deleted if the associated conversation was deleted (see: Photos saved from Messages being deleted).
  • An issue where MagSafe cases that were supposed to be traceable via Find My would not connect to the app – and neither would some AirTags.
  • A fix for bugs in CarPlay (where apps wouldn’t open or would disconnect).
  • A fix for a bug with restoring an iPhone 13 via iTunes or the Finder.

What’s in iOS 15.0.1?

The iOS 15.0.1 update included the following fixes:

  • Unlocking with Apple Watch fix – there had been reports that iPhone 13 owners are unable to use the unlock with Apple Watch feature to unlock their iPhone while wearing a mask. iOS 15.0.1 addresses this issue.
  • It also fixes a problem where the Settings app may incorrectly display a warning that the memory is full.
  • Audio meditations can unexpectedly start training on Apple Watch for some Fitness+ subscribers.

We explain how to install iOS 15 and subsequent updates in a separate article.

Which iPhones get iOS 15?

Here are all the devices that can install iOS 15:

  • iPhone 6s
  • iPhone 6s Plus
  • iPhone SE (2016)
  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone SE (2020)
  • iPhone 12 mini
  • iPhone 12
  • iPhone 12 Pro
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • All iPhone 13 models
  • …plus the current iPod touch and the new iPod touch if and when it eventually launches.

This is great work from Apple, which has kept all the same compatible devices as on iOS 14 and even iOS 13. We discuss the iPhones that can install iOS 15 in more detail in a separate article.

However, you should remember that just because your iPhone can run iOS 15 doesn’t mean that you will get all the features. Read: Which iOS 15 features run on my iPhone to find out which iOS 15 features your iPhone supports.

New iPhone features in iOS 15

The iOS 15 segment of the WWDC presentation earlier this year was phenomenally dense, with dozens of upgrades and new features to cover. Here are the highlights.

FaceTime

Lots of changes are coming to FaceTime, Apple’s video-calling service.

Apple is adding Spatial Audio to FaceTime, which will make each participant’s audio contributions appear to come from the appropriate location on the screen. It’s also working to improve audio clarity with Voice Isolation, a mode which will use machine learning to identify and remove ambient noise – although you will also have the option to instead activate Wide Spectrum audio, to deliberately include background noise.

You get some new interface options, too. You can opt for Portrait mode, which as on stills photography will blur the background and draw attention to the subject. Or use the new grid view, for a better way of seeing all the participants in a group chat rather than foregrounding the speaker.

iOS 15 release date & new features: FaceTime grid view

Apple is also responding, perhaps a little belatedly, to the world’s increasing reliance on video calling for work meetings. The company is letting iPhone users create FaceTime ‘meetings’ by generating a link that can be shared via email, iMessage and so on, or entering it as a Calendar entry.

iOS 15 release date & new features: FaceTime link

Intriguingly, Apple also said that Android and Windows users will be able to join FaceTime meetings via the web.

SharePlay

SharePlay is a fascinating new feature that’s connected to FaceTime but deserves its own section. It’s essentially designed to let you flip out of a FaceTime chat using picture-in-picture, activate another app, and then have that app effect everyone on the call.

The most obvious application is music. You hop into the Music app without actually leaving the chat, pick a song, and then have that song plays for everyone. You can create a shared playlist and have everyone contribute tracks.

This also works for video – Apple said HBO Max, Disney+, Hulu, Twitch and TikTok are all on board – and extend the video you’re watching to your Apple TV for a larger screen. And SharePlay can be used for screen-sharing, for troubleshooting or showing off gameplay.

iOS 15 release date & new features: SharePlay

There’s a SharePlay API, so we’re fascinated to see what third-party app developers come up with for this intriguing feature.

Focus

We knew a little about this feature before the event, although we didn’t know it was going to be called Focus.

This allows you to create multiple bundles of settings for segments of your life. So you can create a work Focus status, and your availability, notification settings, and arrangement of apps and widgets on your Home screen will all be tailored to suit your work life. You can create another for when you’re sleeping, or for your recreational time. It’s the same sort of idea as Do Not Disturb While Driving, but extended to more contexts.

iOS 15 release date & new features: Focus

Another feature that could help you focus is Background Noise. This feature will deliberately generate background noise, including Ocean, Rain and River sounds. Read how to use Background Noise and play these sounds on your iPhone here: How to play Background Noise in iOS 15.

Photos

Photo search continues to improve. Spotlight search will pop up photos now, including searching for text displayed in the images.

iOS 15 release date & new features: Photo search

This is connected to a feature called Live Text. If you look at a photo – either through the viewfinder, live, or in your photo library – a button will appear at the bottom right allowing your to activate Live Text. This will search for and highlight text in the image, allowing you to select, copy or interact with it – if it’s a phone number, for example, you can tap and then choose to call it.

iOS 15 release date & new features: Live Text

Live Text will understand seven languages at launch.

The expanded intelligence of Photos is not limited to text, however. There will also be non-textual Visual Look Up, allowing you to query the breed of a pictured dog, for example, or the identity of a work of art or landmark.

None of this is new to the tech industry, of course, and Google Photos has proved itself adept at such computational feats in the past. But it’s a step forward for iOS.

Wallet

Wallet is expanding its scope to include keys – this seems particularly handy for hotel keys and workplaces – and a general-use identity card which Apple says will be accepted in airports.

iOS 15 release date & new features: Wallet

Weather

Weather gets a new design, lots of attractive new animations, and new climate maps.

iOS 15 release date & new features: Weather

Maps

Talking of maps, Apple’s Maps app is looking extremely appealing. It’s getting lots of additional road details in cities, such as turn lanes, bus, taxi and bike lanes, and pedestrian crossings. There’s an attractive nighttime view, too.

iOS 15 release date & new features: Maps

Transit directions will be more helpful, with notifications telling you when it’s time to disembark and an AR feature that reorients you when you come out of a station and don’t know which direction to walk.

AirPods features

Last but not least, iOS 15 brings a few features for AirPods owners, such as improved performance in the Find My app, a separation alert and the ability to read out high-priority notifications that are applicable to the context.

iOS 15 release date & new features: Find AirPods

How to install iOS 15

Updating your iPhone or iPod touch – assuming it supports the new software – is straightforward. You’ll simply have to open the Settings app, then go to General > Software Update, and wait to see if an update is available. Then follow the onscreen instructions to install it.

If you want to install an iOS 15 beta follow the steps below but be aware that a beta is unfinished, pre-release software, so don’t install it on your primary device – it’s likely to be buggy.

  1. Click Sign Up on the Apple Beta page and register with your Apple ID.
  2. Log in to the Beta Software Program.
  3. Click Enrol your iOS device. (If you signed up for a previous version’s beta last year you may need to uninstall the profile for that and then re-enrol for the new one.)
  4. Go to beta.apple.com/profile on your iOS device.
  5. Download and install the configuration profile.
  6. That will make the beta version available in Settings, under General > Software Update.

We outline these two distinct processes in more detail in two separate articles: how to install iOS 15 and how to install an iOS beta.

Further reading

For information about the other software updates visit our iPadOS 15tvOS 15watchOS 8 and macOS 12 news hubs.

Finally, for a broader look at the year’s launches, read New Apple products coming out in 2021.

Article Source: Macworld.   Author: David Price, Macworld Editor