What's in store with Apple's new iOS 15

Latest update offers new features including in-photo text recognition, a fresh look for notifications and more privacy controls

FILE PHOTO: The Apple Inc. logo is seen hanging at the entrance to the Apple store on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, New York, U.S., October 16, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

Apple has launched its newest operating system for iPhone, iOS 15, with a series of new features including better translation software, a fresh look for notifications, more privacy controls, tools to avoid distractions and major updates to maps for improved navigation.

The National looks at the top seven features of iOS 15 and explores what users can expect from the Cupertino-based company's latest update.

Staying focused

Based on a user's settings, the new operating system will filter notifications to help cut distractions. For instance, the “work” Focus can be set during office hours to only allow notifications from colleagues, clients and apps that are used for work.

Focus uses on-device intelligence - based on machine learning and artificial intelligence - to suggest which notifications from people and apps are allowed. A status will be displayed to contacts and supported third-party communication apps like Slack, so they know not to interrupt.

“Users will even receive suggestions to turn on a Focus based on factors like time of day or location … when Focus is set on one Apple device, it automatically applies to all of a user’s Apple devices,” the company said.

Text recognition in photos

The new OS introduces “Live Text”, which recognises text in photos and lets users respond appropriately. For example, a snapshot of a storefront may reveal a phone number, giving an option to call that business.

The “Camera” app can also recognise and copy text in the moment, such as the Wi-Fi password displayed at an airport lounge. With “Visual Look Up”, users can learn more about various things such as popular art, landmarks, books, plants and animal breeds.

epa09253968 A handout photo made available by Apple showing the introduced iOS15 with new ways to stay connected while demonstrating SharePlay in FaceTime, Live Text using on-device intelligence, redesigned Notifications, and more during the keynote at the Apple World Wide Developers Conference in Cupertino, California, USA, 07 June 2021.  EPA/Apple Inc. / HANDOUT FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. Images cannot be altered or modified in any way, in whole or in part, that disparages Apple. HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

New look for notifications

With iOS 15, Apple has redesigned notifications. Users can temporarily mute any app or messaging thread for an hour or for the day. It also lets users add contact photos for people and larger icons for apps that make them easier to identify.

Users can also access the notifications summary each day at a scheduled time. Using the on-device intelligence, the summary is arranged by priority, with the most relevant notifications rising to the top based on how a user interacts with apps.

However, time-sensitive notifications, messages and phone calls will be delivered immediately to ensure users will not miss timely alerts.

Adding more to navigation and weather alerts

The iOS 15 has added new features to “Apple Maps” that offer more details about neighbourhoods, buildings and landmarks and now features a new night-time mode with a moonlit glow. It offers a new three-dimensional driving view with road details that help users identify turn lanes, medians, crosswalks and sidewalks.

Initially, enhanced maps are available in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco, with the company adding more cities in the coming months.

The “Weather” app now includes full-screen maps, graphical displays of weather data and layouts that change based on conditions.

More natural FaceTime calls

Voices in “FaceTime”, which lets Apple users make video calls to one another, will sound as if they are coming from where the person is positioned on the screen while the new voice isolation feature will use machine learning to eliminate background noise and prioritise the user’s voice.

To ensure more lifelike calls, the portrait mode will blur a user’s background and puts them at the focus.

New keys and state IDs coming to Apple Wallet

Apple introduced digital car keys to let users unlock and start their cars using their iPhones last year.

With iOS 15, users can access even more places with a tap of their screen, with new home, hotel and office keys in the “Wallet".

“Digital car keys get even better with support for ultra wideband technology … iPhone can also be used to unlock a user’s home, office or even a hotel room,” Apple said.

“Users will be able to add eligible state IDs and driver’s licences to Wallet on iPhone as this option becomes available in their state in the future,” it added.

To ensure user privacy and security, the keys in the Wallet are encrypted and stored in Secure Element, the same hardware technology used to protect Apple Pay.

Pricing and availability

iOS 15, which was announced at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June, was launched on Monday. It is a free software update that is available for iPhone 6 and later models.

Updated: September 23rd 2021, 3:00 AM