iOS 15 is here: iPhone software update tips make a big difference

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A. Update to the latest version of iOS
B. Update to the latest version of iOS

This is apple‘s

AAPL -0.78%

ultimate no-choice. If you don’t download, you’ll miss vital security and privacy updates. (See last week for an example.) Not to mention, you’ll endure Apple’s version of your smoke detector’s low battery beep: constant alerts until you can’t take it anymore.

So even if you don’t update Apple’s brand new iPhone operating system, iOS 15, as soon as it becomes available to you on Monday, you will end up doing so. And that’s not something to be afraid of.

It’s not a massive visual overhaul like in the past, but just a notification restyling and other small design tweaks. It includes tools and settings, like Focus mode and Live Text, which will make your phone more personalized, organized and modernized. That is, if you can find them.

After a month of testing the new software, I’m ready to help you spot the biggest changes and, of course, share my unfiltered take on them. But before I begin, my annual iOS tip hasn’t changed: walk, don’t run, to upgrade. If you can, wait a few days, at least until the potential issues have been resolved. I saw a few small bugs here and there while testing on an iPhone 12 Pro. (The software is available for iPhone 6S and later models, and even for that older iPhone SE.)

Now let’s take a look at these features.

Safari Stuff

Alright, I lied. There is a drastic design change that can drive you crazy. (It drove me crazy.) In Safari browser, Apple moved the address bar from the top of the screen to the bottom.

Apple has moved the Safari address bar to the bottom left. Do not worry. You can go back to the old way.


Photo:

Joanna Stern / The Wall Street Journal

The idea is that we no longer have to Stretch Armstrong our thumbs to reach. Additionally, you can now simply swipe left or right on the bar to move between your open tabs. I can see the call, but I just couldn’t get used to it. Also, I kept hitting him accidentally while holding my phone. To change it, go to Settings, then Safari, then select Single Tab.

There are a few Safari changes that I appreciate. Tap the tab button and there is now a grid of all your open tabs with a thumbnail preview. In this view, you also create tab groups, organizing the tabs by categories such as Home Things and Work Things. It looks like a scam of my favorite feature in Microsoft’s Edge browser. If you have a Mac and iPad that are also updated to the new operating system, your tabs will sync with them as well.

FaceTime Stuff

Speaking of scams, FaceTime’s Zoomification is here. Some new, uh, borrowed features:

• Grid view: In a group FaceTime call, up to six people can appear in Brady Bunch boxes.

• Portrait mode: Tap the small silhouette icon during a call to blur your background. Sounds cool, but like the similar feature in Google Meet and Zoom, it doesn’t always understand where your head ends and the background begins.

• Voice isolation: While on a call, go to Control Center (on newer phones, swipe down from the top right corner) and press and hold the mic. There you can turn on voice isolation, which will reduce background noise like barking or chattering dogs. It will also work in other video calling apps and help you even if you are wearing AirPods.

• Android / Windows / Web support: Open FaceTime and tap “Create Link”. You can send the link to any of your friends or family on other devices, yes, Android phones! Windows Laptops! Chromebook! When they click on the link, their device’s web browser opens and they are asked to grant access to their camera and microphone. Then they will be in the video call. It’s a small crack in the walled garden.

Focus Stuff

Tap Focus in the Settings menu and you can customize which apps and people will be allowed to switch during a specific Focus mode. You can activate this specific focus from the control center.


Photo:

JOANNA STERN / THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

There are times of the day when you only want to hear certain people or apps. A new Focus mode allows this.

Go to Settings, Focus and select Personal. You can then add people and apps that you want to receive notifications from when you’re in Personal mode. When you’re getting ready to hang out with your kids or have dinner, go to Control Center and select Personal. Only notifications from those apps and people will be allowed. In Messages and other apps that support the feature, when other people message you at this time, they’ll see that your notifications have been turned off.

You can do different modes: I did the “Video shoot” mode, so I can only be interrupted by my spouse and my bosses when the cameras are rolling.

Camera

Whenever there is a text field, you will now see a new little “Scan Text” icon appear. Tap on it and the camera will launch. Point the camera at certain words, like a newspaper headline or a store sign, and it will automatically convert it to text for you to copy and edit.

Press the new Live Text button when there is a text field. It will launch the camera so you can scan text, left. Or you can tap the button in the Photos app on a photo you’ve already taken.


Photo:

Joanna Stern / The Wall Street Journal

It’s pretty amazing how fast it is, and the conversion was pretty accurate in my testing. I even just held on to that sentence and it got every word! In your Photos app, any photos you’ve taken that contain text or writing will also automatically have this little icon in the lower right corner. (If that bothers you, you can turn it off in Settings under Camera.)

If you search Spotlight for words that are in one of your photos (“vaccination card”), the corresponding photo will be displayed accordingly. Oddly enough, you can’t search for these phrases in the Photos app.

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The Photos app has another visually smart trick. Hit the new info button (“i”) when you have a photo of an animal, plant, landmark and more, and it will try to identify it and provide more information. detailed. For the most part, he was precise. Except he said my dog ​​was a cockapoo. Wrong! Cavapoo. (At least that didn’t call him a cockatoo.)

The Live Text and Visual Lookup features signal to me how serious Apple is about merging the digital and real world. It’s easy to see how these could be part of a software platform for Apple’s long-awaited augmented reality glasses.

Privacy Information

We’ve all been there: you get asked for your email address on some random website and you think, “I’d rather not. With Hide My Email, you can create unique and random email addresses that will be forwarded to your personal inbox. You can create as many addresses as you want and deactivate them at any time to prevent the sender from reaching you.

To get it, you need to be a subscriber to iCloud +, Apple’s new term for those who pay for iCloud storage. In addition to Hide My Email, there is a new private relay option, which encrypts your web browsing and hides your IP address when using Safari. Your activity is transmitted through two Internet relays designed so that no one (Apple included) can see which sites you visit.

Other things

You can receive weather notifications in Apple’s redesigned Weather app.


Photo:

Joanna Stern / The Wall Street Journal

There are many, many more new features if you search. Here are a few more to try:

Create a notification summary so that when you wake up your phone screen doesn’t look like the Bill of Rights. In the Weather app, turn on notifications to learn how to walk the dog before it starts raining at 10:10 p.m. Siri can now do some things without an internet connection (launch apps, set alarms and timers), which speeds up the response time. Annoying: Siri still can’t set two timers on iPhones.

Missing stuff

In June, when Apple announced iOS 15, it introduced SharePlay, which lets you stream shows and music with another person in FaceTime. It also announced a Digital Legacy program, which would allow you to forward your photos and other iCloud data to a designated person upon your death. It even promoted a new digital driver’s license feature, which a few states have already signed up to support. None of these are in the initial iOS 15 release from Monday. An Apple spokeswoman said all missing items will be available in future versions of the operating system.

You know what that means: you’ll be upgrading to the latest iOS version now… and you’ll soon be upgrading to the latest iOS version again.

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Write to Joanna Stern at [email protected]

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