Apple iOS 15.5: features, Apple Cash, updates and all you need to know

Apple Cash gets the most attention as it now lets users send and receive money using the Messages app

Customers look at the iPhone 13 Pro at the Apple Store at Yas Mall, in Abu Dhabi. Victor Besa / The National
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Apple released the latest update of its iOS software for iPhones, featuring an update to Apple Cash, which now allows users to send and receive money in the Messages and Wallet apps.

The update, compatible with the iPhone 6s and later models, is aimed at boosting the Cupertino-based company's position in the financial services vertical as online transactions continue to grow.

It also comes ahead of the Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), which is scheduled to take place online from June 6-10.

Here's an overview of what's new in iOS 15.5, and what the road ahead looks like in the lead-up to the WWDC and, most importantly, the next-generation iPhones:

What's new in iOS 15.5 update?

An Apple release note showed that iOS 15.5 includes enhancements to Apple Cash card and Apple Podcasts, besides the usual "other features and bug fixes".

Specifics include a fix for an issue in HomeKit — Apple's framework for smart home systems — where home automations, triggered by people arriving or leaving, may fail. It is also fixing another issue that may cause the third-generation iPhone SE to unexpectedly shut down.

What is Apple Cash and how does it work?

Apple Cash is a digital card in the Wallet app that allows users to send and receive money in Messages or Wallet. The money received appears on Wallet's Apple Cash card, and it can used for purchases in stores, online sites and in apps that work with Apple Pay.

You can initiate sending money by tapping a contact in Messages, starting a new conversation and tapping the Apple Pay logo in the app drawer. The Apple Cash card will be used by default when a user sends money, but this can be changed to any debit card. Money received will automatically be credited to the Apple Cash card.

However, Apple Cash — as well as its sending and receiving feature, plus Apple Card — works only in the US at the moment. The company has not made any formal announcement when it would expand the service elsewhere in the world.

The update comes after Apple in February introduced a Tap to Pay feature for iPhones, which will allow businesses to use mobile devices as a terminal for contactless payments when it launches later this year. The service is aimed at small businesses, chief executive Tim Cook had said at the time.

What's new in Apple Podcasts?

Apple Podcasts includes a new setting to limit episodes stored on an iPhone and automatically delete older ones.

This is particularly important for users of iPhones with lower storage limits, as it will help make way for other more important content, including necessary apps, important media and personal files.

What other updates were released?

Along with iOS 15.5, Apple also delivered new versions of its software across its product range, including iPadOS 15.5, macOS 12.4, watchOS 8.6 and tvOS 15.5.

A word of caution: once an Apple device is upgraded to the latest OS, it cannot be downgraded to a previous version, so it is highly recommended to back up your devices before performing an upgrade.

When will the next iOS update be?

Barring any major bugs, the next major iOS update would be iOS 16, the beta version of which would be launched during the expected iPhone 14 launch in September.

Apple, however, releases iOS updates to address even minor issues to ensure the integrity of its ecosystem. The previous update — iOS 15.4.1 — was delivered on March 31.

Rumours about an iPhone 14 have been making rounds since last year when the iPhone 13 was launched, including a complete redesign featuring a flat, camera bump-less rear and the long-awaited satellite technology.

Any surprises in the iOS 15.5 release?

Some rather "exciting" features have accidentally surfaced in the code of iOS 15.5, as spotted by Bloomberg's tech reporter Mark Gurman, who has a long history of accurate reporting on Apple's product plans.

The Apple expert wrote in his Power On newsletter that iOS 16 will come with a number of "fresh" apps and "new ways of interaction", in time for the iPhone 14 series launch.

Mr Gurman did not offer further details. He did, however, point out that some are long overdue, and that Google already has its Look to Talk feature that lets users directly speak to an Android device without having to trigger it using the "OK Google" command.

Apple being a bit late into certain aspects of the smartphone game isn't really a surprise, but it's expected that they would offer a better version of what's already out in the market.

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Updated: May 17, 2022, 11:14 AM