This story is part of Apple Event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple headquarters. One of the biggest updates comes to FaceTime, Apple’s app for video and audio calls. Over the past year, many of us have relied on video calls to stay in touch with friends and family and collaborate with colleagues. Apps like Skype and Zoom became the norm, while FaceTime suffered because of its limitations. iOS 15 makes FaceTime a bit more like Zoom while keeping some of its quirkiness.
Read more: How to storing a digital driver’s license on your iPhone will work
The upgrades in iOS 15 fit into four major themes: staying connected, finding focus, using intelligence and exploring the world. Apple’s fast-paced, feature-packed preview on Monday was a contrast to the sober reality surrounding iOS and Apple’s App Store as of late. Over the past year, Apple responded to inquiries about its App Store from lawmakers and regulators at home and abroad. The company launched iOS 14.5 which brought new levels of user privacy and new controls over ad-tracking, which led to a corporate skirmish with Facebook. Apple also awaits judgment in a lawsuit brought by Epic Games, one of the biggest app developers for iOS.
Live Text in iOS 15 uses artificial intelligence to find text in photos or through your iPhone’s camera viewfinder. You can copy and paste the text, or if it’s a website you can open the link. It sounds similar to Google Lens.
iOS 15 adds FaceTime support for Android, Windows
FaceTime’s video interface gets an overhaul with a new grid view. Gone are the random-sized tiles, replaced with a neat grid of similarly sized squares of all your callers. Grid view makes it easier to see at a glance who is speaking. FaceTime in iOS 15 adds portrait mode. Just like portrait mode for photos on the iPhone, which separates you from your background, FaceTime turns the background of your video call into a nice artistic blur.
Shared with You also brings photos that are shared with you in Messages into your Photos app. Apparently the Photos app will only import those that you care about. Screenshots and memes won’t be added.
Watch films, listen to music over FaceTime in iOS 15
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Messages gets new design and content is more organized
Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi said that the goal for updating FaceTime in iOS 15 was to make it feel more natural and comfortable to use. You can now schedule FaceTime calls and create links in advance. FaceTime links can be accessed on Apple devices, or via a browser on Android phones and Windows computers.
Read more: FaceTime gets spatial audio for ‘more natural’ calls in iOS 15 There is so much in iOS 15. For people like me, it’s fun to dig deeper into features and try ones out that never got screen time, like new outfits for Memoji stickers. I’ll be updating this article as I find more.
Read more: FaceTime on Android: Apple announces major upgrades at WWDC
iOS 15 overhauls notifications, adds tools to help you focus
There are also new tools to improve audio. FaceTime in iOS 15 supports spatial audio during a call and makes your friends and family sound more natural, giving the effect that they are in the room with you. Your microphone gets smarter and can isolate your voice or widen its pickup to capture all the details in your environment. Apple showed a video of two people having a FaceTime call. Behind one of the people was a kid using a leaf blower. When voice isolation is enabled, the sound of the leaf blower goes away. (I don’t know how many people would gift their child a leaf blower, let alone let them use it indoors, but it was a fun example.)
iOS 15 brings an enormous amount of new features, improvements and refinements. FaceTime bulks up with more Zoom-like features, including links that let Android and Windows users participate in a FaceTime video call via a browser. You can have your phone bundle less important alerts and deliver them to you as a Notification summary. Live Text is basically Apple’s version of Google Lens. You can watch videos and listen to music with friends over a FaceTime call. Messages can gather and organize links and content so you can view them all at once when you choose. You can even add your driver’s license to Apple’s Wallet app.
Live Text lets you digitize and interact with text in your photos
The Wallet app in iOS 15 lets you add corporate keycards and driver’s licenses. Apple says that it’s working with the TSA on ways to accept it in US airports. This comes on top of being able to carry credit and debit cards, transit fare cards and car keys (for phones equipped with Apple’s U1 chip for ultrawideband).
Add your driver’s license to Apple Wallet in iOS 15
The notifications on your iPhone get revamped to help you deal with all of your phone’s alerts. Notification Summary is a new feature that lets you schedule when unimportant notifications get delivered. It can prioritize which ones are most important and bundle the rest for a delivery in the morning (or whatever time you choose). Siri can now automatically read time-sensitive messages when you don’t have your phone with you. For example, if you order a food delivery and it arrives, Siri can read the notification via a HomePod or your Apple Watch.
iOS 15 has officially arrived. On Monday, during an online keynote for WWDC, Apple’s annual developer conference, the company presented a preview of iOS 15, the next major version of the iPhone‘s operating system. It’s a follow-up to last year’s iOS 14 and will launch in full this fall and likely debut on the heavily rumored iPhone 13.
Everything else in iOS 15
Messages gets a visual overhaul and becomes more organized. In an iMessage conversation thread, photos are shown in a new collage design or, when there are many, in a photo stack. You can swipe through a photo stack just from the in-thread view or tap to open all of the photos into a separate screen.