iOS 15 hits, here are the highlights

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Apple released iOS 15 overnight for all iPhones going back to the iPhone 6s (from 2015, so this has had  six full years of platform updates - and counting). And while All About Mobile isn't a new site per se, here's a bulleted list, with a few comments, on what's new. I have it installed now on my 12 Pro Max and have been impressed so far. There are even nods to Symbian and Windows Phone along the way, hence the cross-post to AAS and AAWP.

Here's a summarised changelog:
  • Redesigned notifications, with contact graphics, plus a daily summary of the most important items from the last 24 hours, to make sure you haven't swiped away something important.

  • 'Focus' modes for reducing distractions - these are similar to the old (2004-2012) Nokia/Symbian 'Profiles', in that you can set them up how you want in terms of what you want 'allowed through' while you're doing whatever you're doing. Sleeping, working, running, and so on.

  • Spatial Audio and SharePlay are now supported in FaceTime calls. Notably, you can now send friends and family a link to connect on FaceTime — even if they’re using Windows or Android (using the latest version of Chrome or Edge browsers).


  • Photos now has native EXIF and other info display, so no more need for third party apps (I'd been using ViewEXIF, which is now redundant).


  • Text recognition ('Live text') in images (as Google Lens has done for a while), using on-device intelligence to recognize text in a photo that users can search for, highlight, and copy. 


  • ID cards in the Wallet app - I don’t use this, though should probably play with it more and report back. In fairness, quite a few of the functions here are USA-specific.

  • Added various privacy features, including blocking your IP from 'trackers'.

  • Added drag and drop of selected items (text, images) between running applications, just tap to select, drag upwards and hold, then drag sideways to the right app in the multitasking carousel. It takes practice, so watch for video demos!

  • Safari browser redesign, including a Windows Phone-esque URL bar and with all controls at the bottom of the screen, for easy reach.  There's also a new tab bar that floats at the bottom of the screen so users can easily swipe between tabs. 


  • Weather redesign, with far clearer layout and better look ahead illustrations.


  • Maps and Notes app redesigns

  • If your available iCloud storage is nearly full, iOS 15 will let you use temporary iCloud storage to move data to a new iPhone or iPad, setting aside as much space as you need to make a backup. The extra storage is free of charge, and lasts for up to three weeks.

It all adds up to a fairly major upgrade, even if a lot of the additions are catching up to good ideas from other platforms.

iOS 14's star feature for me was the addition of 'widgets' to the previously static iOS homescreens, which was clearly Apple playing massive catch-up to Symbian (which had widgets in 2009) and Android (2011). iOS 15's star feature (again for me) is the Photos reveal of underlying EXIF data - plus perhaps the Safari redesign, whose URL bar at the bottom now matches the reachability philosophy from Windows Phone back in 2011.

But it's great to see modern platforms including the best of the 'old' while looking ahead to what's 'new'. The general user is the winner in the end, whether it's Android 12 or iOS 15. And in the latter's case, almost every iPhone user in the world gets to use it on day one. Now that is impressive.