Another year means another update for Apple’s iPhone software, iOS. So when can you expect iOS 15 to arrive and what new features will it bring?
Here’s what we know so far.
When will iOS 15 be released?
Apple has a well-established release schedule when it comes to iOS. Each year the features are previewed at WWDC in June, then the full version is usually made available in September to accompany the arrival of new iPhones. This was slightly different in 2020 due to the coronavirus disrupting not only the lives of customers but also the supply chain.
The resulting chaos meant that the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro arrived in October, with the iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone Pro Max following on in November. But iOS 14 still rolled out in September 2020, beating the new iPhones by at least a month.
Hopefully, if things return to a semblance of normality in 2021, we should see iOS 15 roll out in September alongside the iPhone 13 line-up. The fact that WWDC 2021 is returning to its regular early June slot is encouraging to see, at the very least.
As confirmed by Apple, WWDC 2021 is set to take place between 7 and 11 June 2021, with a keynote outlining iOS 15 expected on the opening day.
To see what updates Apple introduced with the last version, read our review of iOS 14.
How much will iOS 15 cost?
As with all updates to iOS, iPadOS and macOS, Apple will offer iOS 15 for free to those who want to upgrade.
Which devices will work with iOS 15?
The big question each year for those who own older iPhones is whether they’ll make the cut this time around. iOS 14 was generous, in that all devices that could run iOS 13 were eligible for the upgrade.
But early rumours seem to suggest that this won’t be case with iOS 15. The most likely candidates to be left on iOS 14 are the iPhone 6S, 6S Plus and the original iPhone SE, as all of these use the A9 processor which might not be able to handle everything in iOS 15.
This means that anyone sporting an iPhone 7 or later should feel reasonably secure that their device will last another year on the latest Apple software.
What new features can we expect in iOS 15?
WWDC is still a few weeks off yet, and there hasn’t been much in the way of solid news about what Apple plans to bring to the iPhone in 2021. There are a few whispers though…
Redesigned Control Center
One exciting report from French tech outlet iPhoneSoft suggests iOS 15 could introduce a redesigned Control Center for both the iPhone and iPad.
The report claims that Apple is considering redesigning the Control Center based on that of macOS Big Sur, with features like drag-and-drop customisation as well as a generally more compact aesthetic.
The publication couldn’t provide screenshots to back up the claim, but it’s certainly a welcome addition if true – it is clunky having to go into the Settings menu to customise the CC layout, after all.
Dual biometric authentication
In the same report, iPhoneSoft also claims that iOS 15 will introduce dual biometric authentication, which essentially requires users to pass two stages of identification before accessing certain functions like Apple Pay or buying content on the App Store.
The system apparently requires both Touch ID and Face ID authentication, and that’s something not present on any current iPhone. That suggests Touch ID could be returning with the iPhone 13 alongside Face ID – it’s certainly one way to get around the issue of face masks right now.
Redesigned notification system and lock screen
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman suggests that Apple is redesigning both the lock screen and notification system in iOS 15 which, if true, are both welcome changes.
While details of the lock screen redesign are sparse, Gurman suggests that iOS 15 will introduce a way to set varying notification preferences – such as if the phone plays a chime or vibrates with incoming alerts – depending on the user’s current status, i.e. working, driving or sleeping.
Users will apparently be able to select their current status by a new menu system, which will be displayed on the lock screen and within the (also redesigned) Control Center.
iOS 15 wishlist
We’ve got our own hopes and dreams for iOS 15 too, including…
Presentation mode in FaceTime
We’ve all spent more time on video calls this year than we ever would have imagined. While it’s been a necessary evil, as we all do our best to wait out the pandemic, it has also shown up the shortcomings in Apple’s FaceTime app.
Aside from not being able to talk to your Android-wielding friends on FaceTime, there’s also the rather large hindrance of not being able to share your screen with other people on the call. In days gone by, when FaceTime was more intended for quick chats with friends or keeping up with distant family members, this was acceptable.
Now, when a large proportion of use have to work online and attend meetings with colleagues, not being able to see the quarterly figures, PowerPoint presentation or just the latest YouTube clip that will keep us all sane is a glaring omission.
There have been rumblings that Apple could be about to introduce a presentation mode into FaceTime, and this would be a very welcome addition in 2021, though only usable for those with iPhones, iPads and Macs unless Apple rolls out an Android app or a way to use FaceTime via a web browser. The latter seems more likely to us.
Lock Screen Widgets
In iOS 14, Apple introduced widgets so you could see extra information on your home screen and interact with controls for various apps. Android users will of course look on in confusion as this has been a standard feature on the OS for many years now, but Apple finally decided to catch up.
Of course, it came with some caveats, the largest of which was not being able to have widgets on the Lock screen.
The advantage of placing them there is obvious, as you don’t have to unlock your phone to see relevant information or use a widget to control an app, but so far Apple has restricted this ability. There’s hope then, that with iOS 15 you’ll be able to select widgets for the Lock screen, so you can access the things you want even faster than with iOS 14.
More default app selection
Another interesting feature in iOS 14 was the ability to finally choose which apps were the default for email and web browsing. While this is again something that Android has had as standard for, well, pretty much always, it’s something of a breakthrough on iOS as it prises Apple’s iron grip off of the user experience.
Baby steps though, as there’s still plenty of other areas of the OS where it would be useful to have control over the apps you choose as your go-tos. Calendar is an obvious one, especially as there are so many great alternatives on the App Store, not to mention messaging and pretty much anything else you can think of. We doubt Apple will grant users carte blanche, but we would like to see this feature expanded to encompass more apps in iOS 15.
It’s still a while before iOS 15 arrives, along with the new iPhones, so if you’re considering upgrading your handset to ensure you’ll be able to access the latest version of the software, take a look at our best iPhone and best iPhone 12 deals.