This fall, you’ll be able to add your driver’s license to your Apple Wallet, listen to a new album with your friends through FaceTime, and customize your iPhone’s home screen to only show work apps and notifications when you’re on the clock.
These new features are a part of iOS 15, the newest version of Apple’s mobile operating system for iPhones, which it debuted at the company’s annual Worldwide Developer Conference on Monday, June 7. The event was virtual just like last year, due to the pandemic.
FaceTime and SharePlay
Apple’s video-calling app is receiving some of the largest upgrades this year that turn it more into videoconferencing services like Zoom and Google Meet. For starters, there’s a grid view for multi-person chats that works like Zoom’s conference calls. There’s a Portrait mode—like the similar feature in the Camera app, it keeps your face in focus but blurs out your messy room in the background. You can also create FaceTime links to share and invite others to a video chat, and these can be added to your calendar. Those with the link can join these calls through any web browser even if they’re using an Android phone or a Windows laptop, and the calls are still end-to-end encrypted.
Video calls sound more natural, with FaceTime using spatial audio to space out sounds based on where your friends are on the grid view of a group call, making it feel more like you’re all in a room. And there are two new options for the microphone: Voice Isolation and Wide Spectrum. The former will cut out all ambient noise so whomever’s on the other end just hears your voice. The latter will try and pick up all sounds in your surroundings.
Then there’s SharePlay, and as you might’ve guessed, it allows you to share movies, music, and your screen with anyone you’re FaceTiming with. Want to listen to a new album with your friend in sync at the same time? You can bring in tunes from Apple Music. Maybe you want to watch a movie with your long-distance partner while video chatting? Easy. You can AirPlay the movie to your TV at the same time to watch it on the big screen.
Apple says any other developer with a content streaming app will be able to add support for the SharePlay feature, though services like Disney+, HBOMax, ESPN+, and TikTok will already be on board when iOS 15 arrives this fall.
New Ways to Focus
If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by the endless list of notifications on your iPhone, well, worry no longer. In iOS 15, notifications have a new look and some new ways to manage them. There are contact photos for your messages, larger icons for notifications that come from apps, and a new Do Not Disturb mode to silence all notifications.