Apple Announces iOS 15 With Big Changes To FaceTime, Notifications, And More

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Apple has formally revealed iOS 15 at WWDC 2021, the next annual update for iPhones that is set to launch later this year. The update is set to introduce many new features to existing apps such as FaceTime, Messages, and more, some of which will certainly help if you’re still spending a lot of time indoors and at home.

First and foremost are additions to FaceTime, which now links into many apps and media features of your iPhone. Similar to in-app options in Netflix, FaceTime will now let you share video with anyone on the call, with the stream synced up with all participants. Apple says this will work with both Apple services and third-party ones, including Disney+ and Twitch. This will also work on non-Apple devices, too, with Apple announcing FaceTime support for Android and PCs using web browsers and shared links.

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Another big update concerns notifications, and several groups that you can collect them into. Apple calls this Focus, allowing you to define groups for your morning routine, work, personal time, do not disturb time, and more. Changing between these states can organize notifications and apps accordingly, either with user-defined parameters or with iOS intelligently learning what apps you’re using and when. Pages on your home screen can also be changed to reflect what Focus state you’re in, while you can allow and block notifications for certain apps and contacts, too.

Other Apple users will now also be able to see if you’re in Do Not Disturb mode, and also mark a message as urgent to break through your notification block. Many of these features are designed to help you separate the apps and contacts you need during the day, with Apple saying it wants it users to be put in control of what information they’re served and when. That might be useful if the lines between work and personal time have blurred lately, especially with working from home.

iOS 15 summary from WWDC 2021
iOS 15 summary from WWDC 2021

Apple also introduced Live Text, a take on Google Lens. This allows you to extract raw text from photos throughout iOS, whether it’s in your own library or on an image in Google search. This might be helpful in converting the text from a business card or grocery list photo into something more useable in notes or messages. Having it integrated on the OS-level is great, too, as other apps will be able to utilize it where useful.

Apple also revealed smaller changes to its Weather and Maps apps, as well as an expansion to Apple Wallet to include support for Driver’s Licenses and IDs in select US states. These will start rolling out near the end of the year, with iOS 15 expected to launch later this year with Apple’s next iPhones.

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