iOS 15’s best features: Focus mode transforms while FaceTime reinvents

This story is part of Apple Event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple.

Whether or not you are getting Apple’s new iPhone 13 or holding onto a 6-year-old iPhone 6S, iOS 15 might be obtainable to obtain to your telephone beginning Monday, Sept. 20. The brand new model of iOS has been in public beta for months present process a wide range of tweaks resulting in the ultimate launch. I have been testing iOS 15’s new options, and every little thing from greater additions like FaceTime call web links for friends on Android and Windows to smaller modifications like pinning conversations to the highest of the Messages app has improved my iPhone with out disrupting my day by day establishment.

On the entire, iOS 15 appears like a continuation of iOS 14, which felt like a continuation of iOS 13. These three updates are like a film trilogy, however in contrast to The Lord of the Rings there is not an ominous Eye of Sauron looming over your each transfer, simply Siri. Following within the sensible footsteps of iOS 13 and 14, iOS 15 helps you to resolve how a lot you wish to change your iPhone expertise. For example, in Safari the tab bar will be moved to the underside of your telephone’s display screen to make it simpler to achieve one-handed. If you need that tab bar again on the prime the place it has been since 2007, you’ll be able to faucet the AA button and choose Present Prime Handle Bar.


The tab bar in Safari can stay on the backside of your display screen in iOS 15.

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Visually, iOS 15 would not alter the way in which your telephone seems, or at the least not in a giant approach. This is not just like the drastic overhaul seen going to iOS 7 from iOS 6. Additionally, iOS 15 is not outlined by a few large flashy options. As an alternative, it is made up of a whole lot of small and medium additions that add as much as one thing extra important. From extra methods to personalize your Memoji to the bigger visible enhancements in Maps, iOS 15 is an enormous overhaul of your telephone. However as an alternative of trumpeting its modifications like a parade of elephants, Apple has quietly tip-toed in enhancements to assist make your telephone higher with out inconveniencing your present preferences and workflows.

Learn extra: iOS 15’s hidden tricks are its best features. Here’s what we’ve found so far

Relating to system assist, Apple’s iOS is just unmatched. You probably have an iPhone 6S or the unique iPhone SE, iOS 15 will work in your telephone. You simply won’t get the entire new additions. Examine that with Android telephones. I am unable to consider a 2015 telephone from Google, Samsung or Huawei that may be capable to run Android 12.

With all of that out of the way in which, let’s get into just a few of my favourite options.

iOS 15

If you first begin up your iPhone in iOS 15, you are greeted by a brand-new welcome display screen.

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Focus mode in iOS 15 is transformative

Out of every little thing in iOS 15, Focus mode had the most important influence on me. A number of colleagues describe it as “Do Not Disturb mode on steroids.” Focus helps you to filter notifications based mostly on what you are presently doing, and set up app and widget pages in your iPhone’s residence display screen to match your exercise and way of thinking.

With a Focus mode enabled, your standing is routinely displayed in Messages for associates to see. It is sort of like setting an Away standing on Slack, however to remind others to not interrupt you. The distinction is {that a} Focus standing works system huge throughout your iPhone, Mac and different gadgets. You even have the flexibility to show off your Focus standing so it is not shared.

iOS 15 Focus Mode

For sure, Focus mode on iOS 15 has been had probably the most influence on how I exploit my telephone.

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Third-party app builders can incorporate Focus standing of their messaging apps in the event that they select. This results in the likelihood that your Focus standing might work with WhatsApp, Sign or others sooner or later. Slack will assist Focus standing when iOS 15 is launched.

Organising or enhancing a Focus is well performed in Settings. I arrange a handful of Focuses together with default ones for work and health. I made a few customized Focuses for cooking and biking. You may title the Focus something you want so please do not decide my somewhat bland naming scheme for cooking and biking. You may schedule a Focus to start out and finish at a sure time or be triggered while you arrive at a location, or you should utilize Management Heart to toggle them on and off at will.

iOS 15 Focus Mode

There are such a lot of alternative ways to customise Focus mode, together with who you may obtain alerts from whereas in a selected Focus.

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If you arrange a Focus you’ll be able to choose who can notify you. For my work focus, I restrict contact to my boss and associates. Like in Do Not Disturb mode, you may nonetheless obtain all of your messages and calls, however you may solely be alerted to those from the contacts you specified. Contacts I did not specify who attempt to attain me after I’m utilizing Focus are alerted above the textual content discipline in Messages that my notifications are silenced. There may be an choice for them to “Notify anyway” that may alert me.

You may customise which app pages from your private home display screen are displayed throughout a selected Focus. I made an app web page that was only for apps I exploit throughout work. On it are apps like Slack, Filmic Professional, Voice Memos and a teleprompter app. I left off apps that I knew would distract me like Instagram and Twitter.

iOS 15 Focus Mode

You choose particular pages of apps to be displayed for a sure Focus. 

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After I activate my work focus, my regular 4 pages of residence display screen apps goes all the way down to the one I chosen. Since iOS helps you to duplicate an app a number of occasions throughout totally different pages on your private home display screen, you’ve gotten an infinite quantity of prospects for personalization. If I would like Slack to be on an app web page with work apps, and one other app web page for commuting, I can try this. It is also price remembering that Focus would not delete or disable the apps you are not utilizing. If I am in my work Focus and must hop onto Twitter, I can nonetheless entry it together with each app on my iPhone through the App Library.

It took some time to get Focus arrange and tweaked excellent. And if in case you have a Mac operating MacOS Monterey, you may need extra finessing to do to make Focus be just right for you. Focus mode has improved how I exploit my telephone. I really feel extra purposeful. 


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Portrait mode for FaceTime calls seems nice

Portrait mode isn’t just in your photographs anymore. iOS 15 helps you to activate Portrait mode in your FaceTime calls, bringing with it the flexibility to put an inventive blurry background behind you. Zoom, Skype and different video chat apps will let you place a blur round you, however Apple’s implementation seems so significantly better and extra pure. As an alternative of being a wall of blur, Portrait mode mimics the pure out-of-focus falloff you get utilizing a mirrorless digital camera and quick lens. FaceTime Portrait mode lacks the jagged cutout or a bizarre halo impact I usually see on Zoom. After I examined the function out, one pal requested if I would gotten a brand new telephone as a result of the impact seemed so good.

iOS 15 FaceTime

FaceTime will get a bunch of serious upgrades in iOS 15. My favourite is Portrait Mode, which makes my background have a ravishing inventive blur.

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If you couple Portrait mode together with the spatial audio function in FaceTime, video calls develop into much more immersive. Spatial audio grounds the situation of the audio supply relative to you. Clearly the entire callers are in your telephone, however spatial audio spreads them out so that they sound like they’re speaking to you out of your left and proper in addition to center. It is a actually neat impact. I observed it labored greatest on calls with 4 individuals or extra.

Notification Abstract removes the noise out of your iPhone

Notification Abstract is like your individual personalised file full of curated notifications that are not well timed or pressing. App notifications will be overwhelming. So far managing your notifications has been largely an all or nothing affair. However iOS 15 lets you collect helpful notifications in a single place the place you’ll be able to view them at your individual selecting.

For me, as an alternative of regularly being interrupted or distracted even for a second, Notification Abstract collects notifications from apps that I am interested by however that aren’t pressing. Then it delivers that assortment of notifications to me after I need.


Notification Abstract helps you to bundle unimportant notifications collectively and ship them at a time you selected.

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Notification Abstract is nice for dealing with these notifications you need however essentially need not see straight away. A superb instance could be a notification from a recreation letting of an improve or, in my case, the New York Occasions Crossword app alerting me to a brand new puzzle (OK, that one may very well be thought of pressing).

Notification Abstract actually modified my relationship with my iPhone. I discovered myself now permitting notifications from apps I beforehand opted out of as a result of now I can higher handle them.

Reside Textual content is a incredible method to enter textual content, numbers and web sites

When Reside Textual content first got here out, I used to be like, “Oh, it is Apple’s model of Google Lens.” Sure, they stay on the identical spectrum however are totally different. Google Lens is extra like Reside Textual content and iOS Highlight mixed. You need to use Reside Textual content in actual time along with your digital camera or with photographs to establish textual content. It routinely detects if textual content is current and contextualizes it. And it really works with each printed textual content and handwriting.

If there is a telephone quantity, you’ll be able to faucet it to dial the quantity. If there’s a Spanish phrase you’ll be able to translate it to English. You probably have a photograph, simply faucet the Reside Textual content icon on the underside proper to work together with any textual content within the body. The interface seems clear and is simple to make use of. Considered one of my favourite examples was when Reside Textual content recognized textual content on a wrinkled T-shirt I used to be sporting in a photograph.


Reside Textual content even picked out the title Tom Waits on my t-shirt regardless of it being bunched up.

Patrick Holland/CNET

iOS 15 options not obtainable at launch

There are a number of iOS 15 options that will not be obtainable at launch, however I wish to spotlight two. The primary is the flexibility so as to add identification playing cards like your driver’s license to your iPhone’s pockets. After I first heard about this function I used to be skeptical. However after shedding my pockets, I want I had my driver’s license in my iPhone’s Pockets app as a backup.

The opposite factor I am enthusiastic about is SharePlay. If you’re on a FaceTime name, SharePlay helps you to take heed to music or watch a film or TV present collectively and in sync with your folks. You may even share your display screen. I attempted the function out in an early beta model of iOS 15 and was impressed with the potential. It is a bit bit like numerous group video-watching options added to apps like Hulu, Prime Video and Disney Plus over the course of the pandemic, combined with display screen sharing over a Zoom name. The distinction is that SharePlay is best built-in throughout your telephone and never restricted to simply a few app. You need to use it for TikTok, sharing music and another app that opts in to make use of SharePlay. It has a clear interface that even lets you broadcast SharePlay media out of your telephone to a TV geared up with an AppleTV system.

Stroll do not run to iOS 15

Total, these quite a few additions and modifications led to a constructive expertise with iOS 15. As with every software program replace, I would advocate backing up your telephone beforehand as a precaution. These with older iPhones additionally would possibly wish to wait just a few days to see if different individuals report issues they encounter.


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5:08 | iOS 15’s greatest options: Focus mode transforms whereas FaceTime reinvents


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