iOS 15 release date, features, supported iPhones and everything you need to know

As WWDC 2021 kicks off today (June 7), and it began with the official unveiling of iOS 15 which is Apple's operating system for the iPhone line.

With our WWDC live blog already up and running, we are in the midst of updating this article with what iOS 15 brings to your iPhone. However, if you want to tune in yourself, here's how to watch the iOS 15 launch live.

It's worth noting that this isn't when the finished software will arrive on phones though, just when we'll get our first look at the beta version. Expect it to arrive in a finished form alongside the iPhone 13.

While iOS 14 brought widgets and improvements to iMessage and Shortcuts, it isn’t without its issues, despite how much it improved the operating system for both iPhone and iPad.

Several updates have come since, incrementally patching out flaws and debuting new features. In fact, the sizeable iOS 14.6 update is now live, adding a slew of new perks, including a few new podcast features and some other upgrades.

Latest news

We now have our first official look at iOS 15 from WWDC on June 7 (that's today!), with a beta probably following soon after. Our WWDC 2021 live blog will cover the event in full.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The next big update for iOS
  • When is it out? Probably September 2021, unveiled on June 7
  • How much will it cost? It will be free, as always

iOS 15 release date

New versions of iOS typically land in mid-September. Generally they’re accompanied by a new iPhone launch, so we could see iOS 15 land alongside the iPhone 13 in September 2021.

As WWDC has now begun, there's usually a developer beta that is released soon after the keynote finishes, so expect many discoveries across this week that these new version will bring.

A public beta will likely arrive later in the month as before – so if you don’t mind bugs and the occasional crash, you might be able to try iOS 15 for yourself by late June.

Of course, while we’re talking about iOS 15 here, iPadOS 15 will almost certainly follow the same trajectory, which will also likely be announced at tonight's keynote.

FaceTime improvements

FaceTime SharePlay

FaceTime SharePlay (Image credit: Apple)

Apple have brought new features to FaceTime in iOS 15, with a focus on being more comfortable and lifelike.

Spatial audio is coming, which means 3D audio gives the impression that your recipients are in the same room as you.

Voice isolation now focuses on your voice only, and blocks out any other ambient noise. There's also Wide Spectrum, which focuses on you and the environment around you.

There's also Grid View, which shows a group call, alongside Portrait Mode coming to the application. The background is now blurred, and focuses on you.

There's also FaceTime links, which can generate a link to help plan a call, similar to how a Google Meet link works.

SharePlay is also new in iOS 15, where you can share music, watch TV shows and movies, alongside sharing your screen, so you can show a recipient how you use a certain app.

You can also extend SharePlay to an AppleTV, which is helpful especially for a movie. This is also an API, so an app can work with this very soon.

Supported services such as Disney+, Twitch, ESPN, TikTok and more are using SharePlay for iOS 15.

Messages

WWDC 2021 screenshot

(Image credit: Apple)

Another massive improvement to iOS 15, group chats now gain collages, as a way to easily display multiple images.

Shared with You in the News app shows what your friends have shared with you, such as links, and they can be easily copied into a Messages chat. It's also available in Safari, Music and more apps.

There's also statuses, which look very similar to WhatsApp and other messaging apps.

Notifications

WWDC 2021 screenshot

(Image credit: Apple)

After many refinements over the years, notifications are now redesigned for iOS 15. Notification Summary is now here, where these can be scheduled to appear at certain times, or even by Apple's own machine learning algorithms.

This looks to replace Notification Center, with better management for all your notifications on your iPhone.

Do Not Disturb is also part of the improvements here, with it showing for your friends and family if they have it switched on themselves.

Focus is also another feature for Notification Summary, which recommends you on your lock screen to let you know of certain apps, dependant on your calendar and even your location.

Apple are pushing Intelligence as a big part of this, which looks to be their renamed machine learning methods, such as for Siri Suggestions.

Live Text

WWDC 2021 screenshot

(Image credit: Apple)

Craig Federighi also demoed a feature where you can take a photo of text, and it will highlight it, and then copy it into a document, or even translate it. This is a direct competitor to Google Lens and looks to be very convenient if you take many photos or you have a holiday booked.

Photos

WWDC 2021 screenshot

(Image credit: Apple)

Photos are now in Spotlight suggestions, so you can look for someone in particular who are in a photo you've recently taken.

There's also improvements to intelligent Photos called Memories, where it creates new slideshows and carousels of photo collections with music, and it even shows the music being played during this.

Other features

WWDC 2021 screenshot

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple Wallet has seen another improvement in iOS 15, with CarKey gaining U1 support, which allows you to unlock your car, or even open your trunk.

There's also the ability to enter your workplace or home with Wallet, and soon, hotels such as Hyatt will be enabling this feature for iOS 15 enabled devices.

Identity cards such as driving licences (in the US) will also be viewable in Apple Wallet, with TSA enabling security checkpoints soon.

The weather app is now redesigned, taking advantage of the Dark Sky acquisition from last year, with more detailed and more accurate weather, with high-resolution weather maps to see the state of the weather around you.

The Maps app is seeing some useful improvements in iOS 15, with new details for commercial districts and buildings. Elevations and a refreshed color scheme has also arrived, with landmarks being particularly highlighted.

Drivers are also gaining a refined look when setting routes from one destination to another, making it even easier to look at highway interchanges and upcoming traffic conditions.

You can now create favorites to your transit routes, so you can make sure of your commute, and even when you're in the subway, Maps will track your progress, and let you know of the next stop. 

WWDC 2021 screenshot

(Image credit: Apple)

Which iPhones will work on iOS 15?

We’ll be updating this section as soon as the compatibility for iOS 15 is showcased, so check back regularly for all the details.

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