20+ iOS 15 changes that help you get things done

These are some of the most obscure (or exciting) features now available to the nearly 100 million or so users Mixpanel says have upgraded to iOS 15.

Apple, iOS, iOS 15, iPhone, WWDC, mobile

Nearly 100 million of the world’s 1 billion iPhone users have already installed iOS 15, according to Mixpanel. Here are 20 of the most obscure or exciting features those who have chosen to install Apple’s new mobile OS can now access.

Easier upgrades

Every enterprise user will benefit when upgrading their iPhone to iOS 15, which provides unlimited iCloud storage for up to three weeks when setting up a new device. Open Settings>General>Transfer or Reset iPhone to use this. Enterprise users also benefit from Apple’s all-new declarative management MDM system.

Live Text

The capacity to use your camera to scan text really is a game-changer. Open your camera and point it at a street sign, a page in a book, or a magazine. You can also open an image in your Photos library containing text and long press in the text area until the Live Text button appears. You can then copy that text and paste it anywhere you wish.

This works really well with the built-in Translate tool, which will translate text selected in any app, and also lets you work with the translated text. You can scan a road sign, translate it, and paste that translation into an email, or use it to translate a guidebook when travelling. Powerful stuff.

Privacy monitoring

You can monitor what your apps get up to in iOS 15 using a feature called Record App Activity. This consists of a seven-day summary of how often each app accesses your microphone, visits websites, and so on. It’s an excellent tool to identify any napps that may be exfiltrating your data or making use of it beyond what you approve. The feature isn’t on by default, though — enable it in Settings>Privacy>Record App Activity.

Share with Siri

When you come across a URL, image, or Message you want to share with a friend or colleague, you can now say: “Hey Siri, share this with [name of person in your Contacts]” and Siri will do the work for you. It will even send an image of what you want to share if it can’t share the content itself.

Save the receipts

Wallet will now automatically archive all your expired tickets and passes. You can keep them all to remind you of what it once was like to take business trips.

Weather alerts

Dark Sky was a brilliant app. Apple acquired the company and many of its features have now been rolled into Apple’s Weather app. One of its best are the accurate and timely predictions of rain or snow where you are; those alerts will now come from the Weather app.

  • Open the Weather app.
  • Tap the three-line icon at the bottom right, then tap the menu button top right.
  • Select Notifications and toggle My Location to On.

No niggling Notifications

Best used alongside Focus, Notification summary makes a huge difference to your ability to maintain attention. This will allow high-priority notificationsto get through, while presenting everything else as a once- or twice-daily notification summary. Enable this in Settings>Notifications>Scheduled Summary>Enable where you can also tweak time and select which notifications to summarize.

A better timer

iOS 15 sees the return of the wheel-based time picker as used in iOS 13 and earlier, but this now also benefits from a hidden number pad.

Change text size for specific apps

This is quite useful if you need to spend a lot of time reading or writing reports: you can change the text size used by specific apps.

  • Open Settings>Control Center and add the Text Size
  • Now open the app you want to set text size for.
  • Open Control Center, select App only and tap the Text Size control.
  • You can then increase or decrease text size using the slider.

Spotlight from the Lock Screen

Spotlight is now available from the lock screen. When used with Face or Touch ID (to authorize who you are), a swift swipe down is all it takes to reach the search bar where you can search for everything. If you aren’t authorized, you can only search the web.

[Also read: What is iCloud+ (and why should you use it)?]

Notes get shareable, tags, more

If you use shared Notes, you can now see who last edited them. Open a shared note, tap the three-dots, and then choose Show Note activity. Notes and Reminders now support tags, which will help you keep notes and reminders better organized.

Apple Card security gets a boost

If you use Apple Card a new iOS 15 feature called Advanced Fraud Protection creates a three-digit security code that changes periodically for even more secure Apple Card purchases. The downside is you’ll need to check that code each time you want to make a purchase with your card. This protection doesn’t impact recurring purchases or subscriptions.

Drag-&-drop in apps

You can now drag text, images, links, or files, from one app into another. To do so, just tap and hold one item, swipe up to access the Home screen, open the other app — and drop the item into place.

Swipin' Safari

Hate the new tabbed Safari interface? Many users do. But one good thing is a new swipe gesture that  means you just need to swipe left or right on a tab to close it. Or just swipe left or right to navigate between open tabs.

Fix your Home (screen)

You can move your Home screens around as easily as you already move your apps. Tap and hold a screen until all the icons begin moving, then tap the small row of dots you’ll now see just above the Dock. All your home screens will appear on screen and you can drag them into your preferred order. Hide screens by checking the box below them in this view, or hit the minus (-) icon to get rid of that screen entirely.

Arrive on time for a change

Need to arrive somewhere at a certain time? Maps now lets you specify arrival or departure times when asking for directions. Just choose the destination, tap Directions and then tap the light blue My Location, Leaving Now items to find the Arrive by option.

Don’t lose your tagged stuff

iOS 15 will tell you if you leave your AirTags behind. Open Find My and in the AirTags section, toggle Notify When Left Behind to on.

Eliminate unwanted marketing

One new iCloud+ feature lets you prevent senders from using invisible pixels in emails to track you. To enable the setting, which is not switched on by default, go to Settings>Mail>Privacy Protection and turn on the Protect Mail Activity option. Many other Mail enhancements are listed here.

You can use Siri offline

Siri can now perform some tasks, even when it is not online. It will launch apps, control media playback, move between Dark and Light mode, set up alarms and timers, read your messages to you, and switch hardware settings such as Bluetooth, AirPlane mode, or Wi-Fi off and on again.

Stop, thief!

iOS 15 has two useful theft/loss protection tools. It will find iPhones that have been erased, and show a message on the Hello screen warning you when you are looking at a potentially stolen device. This should help make iPhones a less attractive prospect for theft. This is controlled in Settings>Face ID & Passcode>Today View and Search, toggle on (or off) as you wish.

More changes to explore

There are hundreds of smaller changes in iOS 15, even before you reach the big-ticket items such as SharePlay, FaceTime, Messages, Focus, ID cards and keys in Wallet, the capacity to share Health data or set a Digital Legacy

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Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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