Apple Announces iOS 15 With Redesigned Notifications, Focus Mode, FaceTime Changes & More

Apple has unveiled iOS 15, the next major update for iPhone and iPod touch, with redesigned notifications, new video calling and messaging capabilities, improvements to Maps and Weather, and much more.

FaceTime now offers support for Spatial Audio to spread participants’ voices out to sound more natural, and offers to cancel out background noise with a new Voice Isolation mode. For video, FaceTime has a new grid view and portrait mode video, which blurs the background and focuses on the person in frame.

In iOS 15, FaceTime also supports link sharing and calls on the web, so users on Android and Windows can join the call in a web browser. SharePlay lets you share music, video, and otehr content in sync with participants in the FaceTime call, where they can listen and watch it at the same time. It also supports screen sharing and works across iPhone, iPad and Mac.

Notifications have been redesigned to show larger app icons and contact photos, and richer image support. There’s also a new Notifications Summary which can be scheduled to present a personalised group of notifications that you may have missed. Important apps, such as Phone and Messages, can be marked with Time Sensitive notifications, so they arrive instantly and you don’t miss an important notification.

A new collage view in Messages presents photos in a swipeable view. Shared With You provides a selection of content, such as links, photos, news articles and pins, that has been sent to you, and will display it in the corresponding app (so Safari, Photos and Apple News). New Memoji options have also been added, and include 40 new outfits, new glasses, Memoji stickers, additional accessibility options and more eye customisation.

Safari has been redesigned with a focus on one-handed usability. A new compact, streamlined tab bar at the bottom of the display provides access to open tabs at a swipe, and the address bar. Safari also supports extensions for the first time, and has a customisable Start page, which will sync with the browser on Mac. It also offers a new voice search, and pull to refresh, letting you refresh a webpage by swiping from the top, down.

Weather has also seen a UI overhaul, and has thousands of new animations, an updated layout with ten-day weather forecast, full screen map to track the temperature and precipitation, and improved graphical data.

The Maps app gets an interactive globe, with a more detailed view in cities and landmarks. Contributions have been redesigned, and the Transit map shows key bus routes, the new “city experience” and is easier to use with one hand. Augumented reality support brings step by step directions to your device as soon as you hold it up. There are new driving features, with a new map for showing hazards and traffic, turn lanes, bus lanes, crosswalks and more.

Focus mode can filter notifications based on your activity, with preset filtets for work, personal time, gaming, fitness and more. Customise it to block apps from sending notifications, and use it accross iPhone, iPad and Mac. Home screen pages can also be hidden, and turning on Do Not Disturb will block everything. Focus mode supports automatic replies in Messages, too.

Other new features include offline Siri, Mail Privacy Protection, privacy improvements in Settings, per-app accessibility customisation, support for more keys and ID cards in Wallet and an updated Spotlight Search.

iOS 15 is compatible with the same devices as iOS 14, including the iPhone 6s and iPhone SE (first-generation). Click here to read the full compatibility list.

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Ben Ward
Senior Editor, discussing everything Apple and supporting other writers and members of Apple TLD's team of volunteers.
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