My Annotated Version of iOS 15 Release Notes

With each release of iOS, Apple includes release notes. This time, I wanted to make something different and comment on each of the new features exposed in those release notes. Let’s start this, right now. Buckle up!

FaceTime

Starting with FaceTime is surprising to me.

Spatial audio makes people’s voices sound like they’re coming from the direction in which they’re positioned on the screen on Group FaceTime calls (iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR and later). Curious to experience this with my family. Not going to happen at work as we are all on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Sadly.

Voice Isolation blocks background noises so your voice is crystal clear (iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR and later). The same is going to be possible on macOS Monterey when it ships.

Wide Spectrum brings all background noises into your call (iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR and later). Not sure that I want this!

Portrait mode blurs your background and puts the focus on you (iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR and later). Apple is adding their version of “background blur” that has been available for quite some time on competitive services.

Grid view displays up to six people at a time in Group FaceTime calls in the same-size tiles and highlights the current speaker. Again, Apple is playing catch up here.

FaceTime links allow you to invite your friends into a FaceTime call, even friends on Android or Windows devices can join from their browser. — That one could prove to be useful in specific scenarios. That’s the way non-Apple users can join a FaceTime call from a Chrome-based browser.

Messages and Memoji

What comes after FaceTime, iMessage: two of the tent pole feature of iOS.

Shared with You shows content sent to you by friends in Messages conversations in a new section in Photos, Safari, Apple News, Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, or the Apple TV app. — Super useful to find stuff later on.

Pinned content elevates the shared content you choose and makes it more prominent in Shared with You, Messages search, and the Details view of the conversation. — Didn’t try this one. Let me see. Nope, can’t figure out this one. How am I supposed to “pin” something? 🧐

Multiple photos sent in Messages are displayed as a glanceable collage or a swipeable stack. — One of the best addition to Messages in years. 💥

Over 40 Memoji outfit choices and up to three different colors to customize your Memoji stickers’s clothing and headwear. — Well, m’ok. Should I care?

Focus

Focus lets you automatically filter notifications based on what you’re currently doing, such as fitness, sleep, gaming, reading, driving, work, or personal time. — One of the best addition to Apple’s operating system in a long time. I’m already setup on my iPhone and iPadOS. Next up is macOS Monterey.🧘🏻‍♂️

Focus uses on-device intelligence during setup to suggest apps and people you want to allow notifications from in a Focus. — Quite useful in general.

Home Screen pages can be customized to match your apps and widgets to a specific Focus. — That is the whole idea of using Focus in my opinion. Your device becomes what you want it to be to stay in line with your focus.

Contextual suggestions intelligently suggest a Focus based on your context, using signals like location or time of day. — That’s how my iPhone turns the Work focus when I’m close to my downtown office. Clever.

Status appears to your contacts in Messages conversations, indicating your notifications are silenced with Focus. — Others need to upgrade to the latest release of iOS or iPadOS for this to work. I’ll try it out when my girlfriend upgrades her iPhone later this week.

Notifications

A new look displays contact photos for people and larger icons for apps. — I like the updated Notifications design on iOS but on macOS Monterey, it’s a disaster in usability with too-small dismiss area.

Notification summary delivers a helpful collection of your notifications daily, based on a schedule you set. — Another great addition to iOS and iPadOS; one of my favourite addition. I do have four summaries defined: early in the morning, at noon, in the evening and at night. Quite useful. Yet, Shortcuts notifications are still treated differently and pollute the timeline.

Notifications can be muted from any app or messaging thread for the next hour or for the day. — Didn’t try that one. I’m not sure how to set this one up, actually. 🧐

Maps

Detailed city maps display elevation, trees, buildings, landmarks, crosswalks and turn lanes, and 3D views to navigate complex interchanges, and more in San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York, and London, with more cities coming in the future (iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR and later). — It will take forever to come to Canada’s cities like Montreal or Toronto.

New driving features include a new map that highlights details like traffic and incidents, and a route planner that lets you view your upcoming journey by choosing a future departure or arrival time. — Google Maps has been doing this for years. I’m happy to see Apple implement this. It’s a “finally” here.

Immersive walking directions show step-by-step directions in augmented reality (iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR and later). — This one is from Tim Cook I guess because he’s talking about AR all the time and we are yet to see significant day-to-day features to taker advantage of it. This could be quite useful. Still, not going to happen anytime soon in Montreal.

Updated transit experience provides one-tap access to departures near you, makes it easy to see and interact with your route using one hand, and notifies you when approaching your stop. — Since I’m working from home nearly all the time, I didn’t experience this yet. Next time I go to the office, I promise. ☝🏻

Interactive 3D globe shows enhanced details for mountain ranges, deserts, forests, oceans, and more (iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR and later). — I like this one, coupled with more details maps in Los Angeles, Maps looks like a Sim City game. 🕹

Redesigned place cards make it easy to learn about and interact with places, and a new home for Guides editorially curates the best recommendations for places you’ll love. — Much better design indeed. We’re far from the 2012 version of Maps, right? 🗺

Safari

Bottom tab bar is easier to reach and helps you move between tabs by swiping left or right. — Well, yeah, that one wasn’t easy, isn’t Apple? I’m not sure people will like it. Users will be able to revert to the previous design, in any case. I suspect this will be the case for my girlfriend. I’ll let you know!👈🏻

Safari's updated design - controversial
Safari’s updated design – controversial

Tab Groups help you save and organize your tabs and easily access them across devices. — I’m not too fond of this. Closing tabs break the arrangement within the group.

Tab overview grid view displays your open tabs. — I like this view a lot but rarely invoke it.

Start page can be customized with a background image and new sections like Privacy Report, Siri Suggestions, and Shared With You. — Yep, my start page is now customized. Still impressive how often Safari will block trackers. 👀

Web extensions on iOS help you personalize your browsing and can be downloaded through the App Store. — Ok, finally but here is the thing: who will actually care about supporting that one? I’m looking at Grammarly, Pocket and Revue here. Can’t wait but I’m not holding my breath. 🙏🏻

Voice search lets you search the web using your voice

Wallet

Home keys let you tap to unlock a supported home or apartment door lock (iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR and later). — Not going to use that one.

Hotel keys allow you to tap to unlock your room at participating hotels. — Not going to use that one. Who’s traveling these days?

Office keys allow you to tap to unlock your office doors for participating corporate offices. — Not going to use that one. Working from home, duh!

Car keys with Ultra Wideband help you unlock, lock, and start your supported car without having to take your iPhone out of your bag or pocket (iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 models). — Not going to use that one.

Remote keyless entry functions on your car keys allow you to lock, unlock, honk your horn, preheat your car, or open your trunk on your supported vehicle. — Not going to use that one.

Live Text

Live Text makes text interactive in your photos so you can copy and paste, look up, and translate in Photos, Screenshot, Quick Look, Safari, and live previews with Camera (iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR and later). — One of the greatest addition from Apple in recent memory. It’s impressive and works well.

Live Text in action
Live Text in action

Data detectors for Live Text recognize phone numbers, emails, dates, street addresses, and more in photos so you can take action on them. — Yeah, did I say impressive?

Live Text is available from the keyboard letting you insert text directly from the camera viewfinder into any text field. — Of course, that’s a great place to put a shortcut!

Spotlight

Rich results brings together all the information you’re looking for on contacts, actors, musicians, movies, and TV shows. — Yeah, works great. Tried it with “Steve Jobs”.

Searching for Stve Jobs
Searching for Steve Jobs

Photos can be searched from your photo library by locations, people, scenes, text in the photos or other things in the photos, like a dog or a car. — Use this all the time for finding photo-related to a specific location. Works great. But, was it already in iOS 14?

Web image search allows you to search for images of people, animals, monuments, and more. — Useful.

Photos

New look for Memories with a new interactive interface, animated cards with smart, adaptive titles, new animation and transition styles, and multiple image collages. — This could be a sleeper hit of iOS 15. My iCloud Photo Library contains more than 42000 pictures and each day there is something new coming out of it. I do feel the new memories feed is too busy. I would love to write an article about this but how can I do this without revealing too personal photos? Not easy.

Apple Music can be added to your Memories for Apple Music subscribers, and personalized song suggestions combine expert recommendations with your music tastes and what’s in your photos and videos. — Most of the music in Memories can’t be shared. It’s too bad. Freely available music is not always as good.

Memory mixes let you set the mood by selecting from different songs and a Memory look to match. — Being to set the memory look is cool.

New memory types include additional international holidays, child-focused memories, trends over time, and improved pet memories. — “Flowers in Montréal” was recently shown to me. Pretty impressive montage. There seems to be an endless series of themes.

Info pane now displays rich information about the photo like which camera and lens, shutter speed, file size, and more. — FINALLY. Enough said. Metapho is no longer needed. Sherlocked.

Visual Look Up recognizes art, landmarks around the world, plants and flowers, books, and dog and cat breeds in your photos so you can learn more about them. — Tried it with a few plants but I wasn’t successful. Nothing really happened. What am I doing wrong here?

Health

Sharing lets you choose health data, alerts, and trends to share with people important to you or those who are caring for you, including your healthcare provider. — As soon as my girlfriend upgrades her iPhone, I’ll be more than happy to try it out.

Trends lets you see how a given health metric is progressing over time and can notify you when a new trend has been detected. — My notifications are activated. I’m still waiting to get any notifications about my trends modifications.

Walking Steadiness is a new metric that can assess your risk of falling and notify you if your walking steadiness is low (iPhone 8 and later). — I’m 54 and I feel pretty solid on my feet but I’m no longer the young boy I once was.

Verifiable health records enable you to download and store verifiable versions of COVID-19 vaccines and lab results. — Never had a COVID-19 test done, but I’m fully vaccinated. I don’t have any app that does take advantage of this. Maybe it is becoming a bit late for this to be useful. I don’t know.

Lab results can now be pinned for quick access and include highlights that show how your labs have changed over time. — Not supported in any way by any clinic.

Weather

A new design shows the most important weather information for that location and includes new maps modules. — A new design still only available on the iPhone. Why? 🤷🏻‍♂️ Animations can be quite fun to watch; rainy day never been so much fun to watch. Can’t wait for our first snowstorm to see how well it perform!☃️

Weather maps can be viewed in full-screen and show precipitation, temperature and air quality in supported countries. — I don’t like the resolution used to display the precipitations map. I prefer MyRadar for this.

Next-hour precipitation notifications alert you when rain or snow is about to start or stop in Ireland, U.K., and US. — Works in Canada too and is pretty accurate.

New animated backgrounds more accurately represent the sun position, clouds, and precipitation (iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR and later). — Animations are gorgeous and add a new dimension for weather enthusiasts.

Siri

On-device processing means audio of your requests does not leave your device by default, and means Siri is able to process many requests while offline (iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR and later). — Didn’t test it but surely a welcomed addition for my next trip by plane.

Share items with Siri lets you send on screen items like photos, web pages and Maps locations to any of your contacts. — Hey Siri, share this with my spouse.

Onscreen context can be used by Siri to refer to contacts on screen to send them a message or place a call. — 👈🏻🧐

On-device personalization allows Siri speech recognition and understanding to improve privately (iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR and later). — Will see over time how is this impacting my Siri usage.

Privacy 😎👀

Here, most important features are not only the ones that are included but also the ones that were dropped off the list… hint: CSAM detection.

Mail Privacy Protection protects your privacy by preventing email senders from learning about your Mail activity, your IP address or whether you’ve opened their email. — As a user of HEY, which already provides that feature, I’m happy to see Apple waking up too to pixel tracking prevention.

Safari Intelligent Tracking Prevention now also prevents known trackers from profiling you using your IP address. — I thought it was already the case with iOS 14. Oh, well.

iCloud+

iCloud+ is a cloud subscription service that gives you premium features and additional iCloud storage. — I’m already using the 2 TB storage tier. Still, Apple only provides a merger 5 GB of storage for free. This is ridiculous.

iCloud Private Relay (beta) sends your requests through two separate internet relays and encrypts the internet traffic leaving your device so you can browse Safari in a more secure and private way. — I’ve enabled this feature on top of Nextdns.io. More protection is better in today’s world.

Hide My Email lets you create unique, random email addresses that forward to your personal inbox so you can send and receive email without having to share your real email address. — That one is great. I had a chance to use it a few times from a few web registration processes. The email alias creation is fast.

HomeKit Secure Video supports connecting more security cameras without using your iCloud storage quota. — Well, ok, good.

Custom email domain personalizes your iCloud Mail address and allows you to invite family members to use the same domain. — I thought of creating a new email domain for the Numeric Citizen blog but I’m already doing it with WordPress.com. You can reach me at contact@numericcitizen.me.

Accessibility

Image exploration with VoiceOver allows you to get even more details about people and objects, and learn about text and table data in photos. — I wonder if Android goes as far as iOS in the accessibility space. Does it? Apple invests quite a lot of resources in making its device more accessible to people with disabilities.

VoiceOver image descriptions in Markup let you add your own image descriptions that can be read by VoiceOver.

Per-app settings allow you to customize display and text size settings only for the apps you want. — Each app design can be so different that a per-app settings can help provide the best personalization options.

Background sounds play balanced, bright, or dark noise, ocean, rain, and stream sounds continuously in the background to mask unwanted environmental or external noise. — I used to use Dark Noise but I stopped for unknown reasons. I’m not going to make use of this feature even if basically integrated into the operating system.

Sound actions for Switch Control enable you to control your iPhone with simple mouth sounds. — Mouth sounds?? What? Like clap of the fingers?

Audiograms can be imported in Settings so you can customize Headphone Accommodations based on your hearing test results. — Cool and clever stuff. Maybe one day I’ll need this type of feature. I hope not.

New Voice Control languages include Mandarin Chinese (China mainland), Cantonese (Hong Kong), French (France), and German (Germany). — My native spoken and written language is French.

Memoji options including a cochlear implant, oxygen tubes, or a soft helmet. — Really?

Fun fact: it’s the first that I read the release notes in their entirety.

This release also includes other features and improvements

Tags in Notes and Reminders help you quickly categorize your items to make them easy to find, and you can use custom Smart Folders and Smart Lists to automatically collect your notes and reminders based on rules you can define. — I’m already depending on tags in Reminders to organize many different things. Since I’m a big fan of Craft, my use of Notes is close to zero. I’m still searching for a way to integrate quick notes into my workflow, but I’m not there yet.

Mentions in Notes enable you to notify others of important updates in shared notes, and an all-new Activity view displays all the recent changes in a note in a single list. — On my bucket list, collaboratively working with another blogger. Apple’s Notes could be a great way to collaborate. Who knows, I’m maybe already working on something…

Spatial audio with dynamic head tracking in Apple Music brings an even more immersive experience to Dolby Atmos music with AirPods Pro and AirPods Max. — I’m not an audiophile but I love my AirPods Max. Just saying.

System-wide translation lets you select text throughout the system and translate it with a tap, even in photos. — I use this regularly since I’m a French-speaking guy.

New widgets include Find My, Contacts, App Store, Sleep, Game Center, and Mail. — Find My and the App Store widget are in all glory in a few of my Home Screen pages. The Sleep widget is… dozy.

Cross-app drag and drop function lets you pick up images, documents, and files from one app to another. — Something that was already available on the iPad is now available on the iPhone.

Keyboard magnification loupe magnifies the text when moving the cursor. — FINALLYYYYY. The lost of the loupe back in.. can’t remember when was a big mistake in usability. I’m glad this is back. The previous design was better though. 🍾

The loupe is back. Finally.
The loupe is back. Finally.

Apple ID Account Recovery Contacts lets you to choose one or more people you trust to help you reset your password and regain access to your account. — Strangely this feature was removed in one of the beta. It will return in an upcoming update, probably as soon as 15.1. I think this is an important feature in a world where digital assets are growing and there has to be a way to help survivors get access to this.

Temporary iCloud storage grants you as much iCloud storage as you need to create a temporary backup of your data, free of charge, for up to three weeks when you buy a new device. — This will certainly help a lot of iPhone upgraders to easily switch to their newer devices, especially for those using the free tier, which gives a whopping 5 GB of storage. At the time of this writing, I was still waiting for my iPhone 13 Pro to arrive, but I won’t need this feature; I’m using the 2 TB storage tier.

Find My separation alerts notify you if you leave a supported device or item behind and Find My will give you directions to your item. — I own five AirTags. This is a must-have feature. I’ll stop to forget my keys. Already took advantage of this more than one time.

Game highlights of up to the last 15 seconds of gameplay can be saved using game controllers like the Xbox Series X|S Wireless Controller or Sony PS5 DualSense™ Wireless Controller. — I’m not a gamer. At all. I don’t care about this one.

App Store in-app events help you discover timely events within apps and games such as a game competition, a new movie premiere, or a live-streamed experience. — I’m curious about this one.

MUCH MORE here: This release includes even more features and improvements. For more information, please visit this website: https://www.apple.com/ios/ios-15/features/

For information on the security content of Apple software updates, please visit this website: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT201222

Special mention to iPadOS 15

We can finally place widgets freely anywhere on the Home Screen page. Multitasking improvements to the way we enter into split-screen mode and easily see where the focus is for text entry. It is now possible to reorder Home Screen pages on iPhone or on iPad. YES!

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