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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 shall be obtainable to obtain to your cellphone beginning Monday, Sept. 20. The brand new model of iOS has been in public beta for months present process quite a lot of tweaks resulting in the ultimate launch. I have been testing iOS 15’s new options, and every little thing from larger 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 each day established order.

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 good footsteps of iOS 13 and 14, iOS 15 helps you to determine how a lot you need to change your iPhone expertise. As an example, in Safari the tab bar will be moved to the underside of your cellphone’s display to make it simpler to succeed in one-handed. If you need that tab bar again on the high the place it has been since 2007, you’ll be able to faucet the AA button and choose Present Prime Tackle Bar.

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


Patrick Holland/CNET

Visually, iOS 15 would not alter the best way your cellphone appears, or at the least not in an enormous 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 a substitute, it is made up of a whole lot of small and medium additions that add as much as one thing extra vital. From extra methods to personalize your Memoji to the bigger visible enhancements in Maps, iOS 15 is an unlimited overhaul of your cellphone. However as an alternative of trumpeting its modifications like a parade of elephants, Apple has quietly tip-toed in enhancements to assist make your cellphone 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

With regards to system help, Apple’s iOS is just unmatched. If in case you have an iPhone 6S or the unique iPhone SE, iOS 15 will work in your cellphone. You simply won’t get all the new additions. Evaluate that with Android telephones. I am unable to consider a 2015 cellphone from Google, Samsung or Huawei that may have the ability to run Android 12.

With all of that out of the best way, let’s get into a number of of my favourite options.

iOS 15

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


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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 at present doing, and manage app and widget pages in your iPhone’s house display to match your exercise and way of thinking.

With a Focus mode enabled, your standing is mechanically displayed in Messages for pals to see. It is form 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 units. You even have the flexibility to show off your Focus standing so it isn’t shared.

iOS 15 Focus Mode

Surely, Focus mode on iOS 15 has been had probably the most influence on how I take advantage of my cellphone.


Patrick Holland/CNET

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

Organising or enhancing a Focus is well finished 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 possibly can title the Focus something you want so please do not decide my somewhat bland naming scheme for cooking and biking. You possibly can schedule a Focus to begin and finish at a sure time or be triggered once you arrive at a location, or you should use Management Middle 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 will obtain alerts from whereas in a selected Focus.


Patrick Holland/CNET

Once 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 will nonetheless obtain all of your messages and calls, however you will solely be alerted to those from the contacts you specified. Contacts I did not specify who attempt to attain me once I’m utilizing Focus are alerted above the textual content subject in Messages that my notifications are silenced. There may be an choice for them to “Notify anyway” that may alert me.

You possibly can customise which app pages from your private home display are displayed throughout a selected Focus. I made an app web page that was only for apps I take advantage of 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. 


Patrick Holland/CNET

After I activate my work focus, my regular 4 pages of house display apps goes right down to the one I chosen. Since iOS helps you to duplicate an app a number of instances throughout totally different pages on your private home display, 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 do this. It is also value 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 in case you have a Mac operating MacOS Monterey, you might need extra finessing to do to make Focus give you the results you want. Focus mode has improved how I take advantage of my cellphone. I really feel extra purposeful. 

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Portrait mode for FaceTime calls appears nice

Portrait mode isn’t just in your images anymore. iOS 15 helps you to activate Portrait mode in your FaceTime calls, bringing with it the flexibility to put a creative blurry background behind you. Zoom, Skype and different video chat apps can help you place a blur round you, however Apple’s implementation appears so a lot better and extra pure. As a substitute 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 typically see on Zoom. After I examined the function out, one pal requested if I might gotten a brand new cellphone as a result of the impact seemed so good.

iOS 15 FaceTime

FaceTime will get a bunch of great upgrades in iOS 15. My favourite is Portrait Mode, which makes my background have an exquisite creative blur.


Patrick Holland/CNET

Once you couple Portrait mode together with the spatial audio function in FaceTime, video calls grow to be much more immersive. Spatial audio grounds the placement of the audio supply relative to you. Clearly all the callers are in your cellphone, 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 folks or extra.

Notification Abstract removes the noise out of your iPhone

Notification Abstract is like your individual customized file crammed with curated notifications that are not well timed or pressing. App notifications will be overwhelming. To date managing your notifications has been largely an all or nothing affair. However iOS 15 means that you can 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 involved in however that aren’t pressing. Then it delivers that assortment of notifications to me once I need.

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


Patrick Holland/CNET

Notification Abstract is nice for dealing with these notifications you need however essentially needn’t see immediately. A great instance could be a notification from a recreation letting you recognize of an improve or, in my case, the New York Occasions Crossword app alerting me to a brand new puzzle (OK, that one might be thought-about 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.

Dwell Textual content is a implausible strategy to enter textual content, numbers and web sites

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

If there is a cellphone 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. If in case you have a photograph, simply faucet the Dwell Textual content icon on the underside proper to work together with any textual content within the body. The interface appears clear and is straightforward to make use of. One among my favourite examples was when Dwell Textual content recognized textual content on a wrinkled T-shirt I used to be carrying in a photograph.

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


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iOS 15 options not obtainable at launch

There are a number of iOS 15 options that will not be obtainable at launch, however I need 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 dropping 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. Once 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 pals. You possibly can even share your display. 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 quite a lot of group video-watching options added to apps like Hulu, Prime Video and Disney Plus over the course of the pandemic, combined with display sharing over a Zoom name. The distinction is that SharePlay is healthier built-in throughout your cellphone and never restricted to simply a few app. You should use it for TikTok, sharing music and another app that opts in to make use of SharePlay. It has a clear interface that even means that you can broadcast SharePlay media out of your cellphone to a TV outfitted with an AppleTV system.

Stroll do not run to iOS 15

Total, these quite a few additions and modifications led to a optimistic expertise with iOS 15. As with every software program replace, I might suggest backing up your cellphone beforehand as a precaution. These with older iPhones additionally would possibly need to wait a number of days to see if different folks report issues they encounter.

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https://www.cnet.com/tech/cell/ios-15s-best-features-focus-mode-facetime-reinvents/#ftag=CADf328eec | iOS 15’s greatest options: Focus mode transforms whereas FaceTime reinvents

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