iOS 15: the best features coming to your iPhone when new software releases tonight

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iOS 15 is scheduled to launch worldwide tonight, with iPhone owners set to be treated to a bucket load of new features for free. Apple doesn’t reveal exactly when it will flip the switch on the hotly-anticipated update, but in previous years, we’ve started to see the software roll-out around 6pm BST.

If you want to find out whether your current iPhone is compatible with the latest version of the mobile operating system, you can find a complete list of iPhone models eligible for the upgrade here. If your iPhone isn’t compatible with iOS 15, it might be time to check the latest iPhone 13 deals.

If you’re waiting to upgrade, or have started the download and need to kill some time, Express.co.uk has rounded-up the greatest features in iOS 15. Here’s everything you need to know about the new version of iOS that’ll be powering your iPhone over the next year…

Video Calls

Over the last year, you’ve probably spent a lot of time chatting with friends, relatives and colleagues over video call apps. And it seems the folks at Apple have had the same experience. As such, the teams at Apple have decided to bring a dizzying number of upgrades to FaceTime, which is preinstalled on all iPhone, iPad and Mac devices.

First up, the end-to-end encrypted video call app will now benefit from Spatial Audio, which is only available with Apple AirPods Pro and AirPods Max. This feature, which is already available inside blockbuster movies in Apple TV+, positions the voices of those on the call in relation to where they appear on-screen. So, if your daughter is on the right side of your iPad screen, with your mother on the left… their voices will sound as if they’re coming from the right and left, respectively. These positions will remain in place even as you move your head. Apple believes this tweak, which will be relatively subtle, will make its video calls more immersive.

Not only that, Apple is also using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to enable “Noise Isolation”, which strips-out distracting background noise and focuses on the callers’ voice. There’s also a new grid view, similar to what you’ll find on rival apps like Zoom and Google Meet. If you’re calling dozens of people, this is sure to be a popular layout to keep track of who is on the call.

FaceTime is also adding Portrait Mode, which adds blur behind the subject of the call – so you won’t have to worry about people snooping on every title on your bookcase. FaceTime Links will allow users to create a URL that launches a new call with anyone with the correct link included. Intriguingly, this works on Windows and Android using the web browser – with the video call still using end-to-end encryption.

Focus

Apple has boosted its Do Not Disturb mode in iOS 15. Dubbed Focus, the new feature is designed to help you achieve a better iPhone-life balance and will let you create multiple categories for your device – Work, Home, Sleep, and more. For example, when set to Work within the Focus setting, notifications from work messaging platforms, like Microsoft Teams or Slack, will fill your Lock Screen …but other apps can be silenced, like shopping services like eBay and Amazon.

It’s not just notifications either. You can completely overhaul your homescreen, with a completely different grid of app icons for each of your Focus modes. That means you won’t have to worry about swiping through endless pages of apps to find a specific work app.

Apple says Focus will rely on on-device intelligence to suggest which people and apps are allowed to notify you. When your specific Focus mode is blocking incoming notifications, that status is displayed to contacts in Messages – so those sending messages will know there’s a reason you’re not replying to their messages.

Messages

If you rely on iMessage to keep in touch with friends and family, there are a number of new tricks coming to the messaging app. Like WhatsApp, when you send multiple photos in a chat, these will now be grouped together into a nice stack design. Recipients will be able to swipe through all of the pictures in the bundle without the images taking over your entire screen too, which is nice.

Not only that but news stories sent inside Messages will now be displayed in the Apple News app under a “Shared With You” tab. So, you won’t need to worry about scrolling back through dozens of messages to find a single link. And it’s not just news stories. Apple Music and Apple Podcasts also supports the feature, which Apple says is designed to stop links sent in busy group chats from being lost forever.

Photos sent within Messages will also automatically populate the Apple Photos app. Apple says its AI algorithms are smart enough to exclude screenshots or photos without you. Provided the AI is smart enough, you won’t have to worry about seeing other people’s wedding snaps filling your photo library – but you won’t need to stress about downloading each image sent to you in Messages to keep a copy in Photos.

Live Text

Ever wished you could copy and paste text from a real-life document? Well, now you can. iOS 15 brings a new feature called Live Text that relies on on-device intelligence to recognise printed or handwritten text in a photo – and lets you take action. For example, you can search for and locate the picture of a handwritten family recipe, capture a phone number from a sign in a shop window and immediately jump into a call.

This feature works both inside the Photos app as well as the Camera app. You can quickly recognise and copy text in the moment, such as the Wi-Fi password displayed at a local coffee shop. With Visual Look Up, you’ll be able to learn more about popular art and landmarks around the world, plants and flowers found in nature, breeds of pets, and even find books.

Sky Mobile

Like Vodafone, Sky Mobile lets you customise how long you’re going to spend paying off the handset. For the best deal, you’ll need to sign-up for a 36-month plan, although Sky Mobile does let you switch to a new handset after 24 months at no cost. With a solid 3GB of mobile data, unlimited calls and texts – this is a pretty good deal. And unlike some networks, unused data can be used the following month too.

View Deal Upfront cost: £0

Virgin Media

With no upfront cost and a monthly charge of £33, Virgin Media’s iPhone 13 deal is a real bargain – especially as you’ll take delivery of the latest Apple handset on launch day (24/09). It is a 36-month contract and you only get 2GB of 5G data, so it’s not suitable for anyone who plans to stream Netflix on the train to work every day. But unlimited calls and texts are a real bonus at this price!

View Deal Upfront Cost: £0

Carphone Warehouse

Carphone Warehouse’s own iD network has a great balance of price and mobile data for its iPhone 13 pre-order deal. You’ll get a solid 20GB of data each month, which should be more than enough to stream Apple Music, watch a little YouTube, and make a WhatsApp video call away from Wi-Fi. There’s also unlimited calls and texts.

View Deal Upfront cost: £29

Vodafone

Vodafone lets you completely customise your monthly payments – you can choose the amount of time you’ll be paying off the cost of the handset (either 12, 24, or 36 months), the upfront cost, and the amount of 5G mobile data, minutes and data. It’s a little pricier than the bundles above, but it does come with a hefty 25GB of speedy 5G data as well as unlimited calls and texts.

View Deal Upfront cost: £29

EE

If you’re looking for the lowest monthly cost, you’d be better with one of the options above. However, EE does offer the best network coverage across the UK as well as some eye-watering 5G speeds. With 1GB of mobile data, this plan isn’t for those who want to stream all the time.


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