We’re about to get our first good look at iOS 15, even though the full version of Apple’s software update won’t arrive until later this fall. But Apple is expected to preview iOS 15 at this month’s Worldwide Developer Conference, giving us an extensive look at the features planned for Apple smartphones, including the iPhone 13 due out later this year.
iOS 15 follows a fairly significant update for the iPhone. Apple really changed things up with last year’s iOS 14 overhaul that brought a new look in the form of widgets on the home screen. iOS 14 also added the App Library for automatically organizing your apps and the ability to change your default browser and email client. iOS 14.5 brought even more changes, highlighted by privacy features, and iOS 15 figures to continue the steady stream of enhancements and improvements.
Based on the leaks and rumors thus far, here’s everything we know about iOS 15 so far, which will debut on the upcoming iPhone 13 lineup and be available as a download for many other iPhone models.
iOS 15 latest news and rumors (Updated June 1)
iOS 15: Release date and betas
Apple usually launches the new version of iOS about the same time as a new iPhone. (Usually, the iOS update shows up a few days ahead of time.) This typically happens in September. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Apple delayed the launch of the iPhone 12 series until October 2019; iOS 14 still released in September 2020. With that in mind, we think iOS 15 will drop in September of this year.
You won’t have to wait that long to get a glimpse of iOS 15. Apple is almost certain to address the software update during WWDC, its annual developer conference. WWDC 2021 runs from June 7 through June 11, with the opening keynote happening that Monday (June 7) at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT.
Developers will get an iOS 15 beta at WWDC, and Apple will likely follow the pattern of the last few iOS releases, including iOS 14, by offering a public beta. Typically, the public beta comes out a few weeks after WWDC — we’d certainly expect it by the end of June.
To enroll in Apple’s public beta program, just head to Apple’s beta website and login with your Apple ID. (It’s best to visit that site on the device where you wish to install the beta.) You’ll be able to download the public beta once that software becomes available.
iOS 15: What devices will it support?
Apple has not officially released a list of which devices will get iOS 15. However, rumors suggest that the new version will come only to the iPhone 7 and above. That would leave the iPhone 6s, 6s Plus, and original iPhone SE out in the cold.
If that holds true, then here’s what iPhones we believe will get iOS 15:
- iPhone 7
- iPhone 7 Plus
- iPhone 8
- iPhone 8 Plus
- iPhone X
- iPhone XR
- iPhone Xs
- iPhone Xs Max
- iPhone 11
- iPhone 11 Pro
- iPhone 11 Pro Max
- iPhone SE (2020)
- iPhone 12 mini
- iPhone 12
- iPhone 12 Pro
- iPhone 12 Pro Max
And, obviously, the iPhone 13 series will come with iOS 15 out of the box.
There’s a potential silver lining if you’ve got an older iPhone that might miss out on future iOS updates. As of iOS 14.5, users have the option of separately toggling between regular updates and security updates — the idea being that older phones might still be able to receive security updates, even if the device can’t handle a full update. It’s unclear if that feature will allow devices that miss out on iOS 15 to still get security patches going forward.
We should have a full list of which devices support iOS 15 after Apple’s WWDC keynote.
iOS 15: Features
While we don’t know a whole lot about what we’ll see in iOS 15, we have heard some rumors and seen some leaks. According to a report from Bloomberg, iOS 15 will offer more granular controls over notifications. This means setting up statuses such as driving, sleeping, working, etc and adjusting how notifications and auto-replies work within each of those statuses.
Bloomberg also reports that iPadOS 15 will include widgets for the iPad home screen, something that is long overdue. The publication claims it’ll be the biggest change to how users interact with the tablet since its launch.
Subsequent leaks from Twitter user Connor Jewiss backed up the notion that iOS 15 is making notification changes. In addition, a new look could be coming to the iPhone’s lock screen — think customization tools — while the Health app might add a food-tracking feature.
iOS 15 might also include a new privacy menu so that you can see exactly what information apps are gathering about you. In theory, this might be similar to the privacy labels in the App Store.
While it may come with iOS 15 or with a later update, Apple seems to want to iMessage to take on some more useful, social features. Bloomberg says that the company wants to take on WhatsApp and if anyone can do it, it’s Apple.
The WWDC keynote will bring a full-scale preview of iOS 15, but until then, you can tide yourself over with iOS 15 concept art that shows what customizable lock-screens and a side-by-side multitasking view might look like on the iPhone.
iOS 15: What we want to see
We’re bound to see a lot of new stuff in iOS 15, but nothing is set in stone until Apple’s preview next week. That’s why we have a little wishlist of things we want the new iOS to have. There are still some things Android does well that iOS could benefit from, especially with Google giving us a preview of the new features in Android 12.
Improved notifications: This has been a pain point for iOS for a long time. It’s something that Google continues to refine in Android and we’d really like to see Apple take some of those lessons learned and apply them to iOS 15. Notification triage is a nightmare on iOS. Inline replies are sorely needed for apps that support them. Grouping needs adjustment to not bury important information. Actionable notifications, like deleting an email, should be clearer and more intuitive.
A better Siri: Let’s admit it, Siri isn’t that great. Sure, it’s improved quite a bit with each new iteration, but it lags significantly behind Google Assistant. Apple has a lot of room to grow in this regard. We’d like to see better speech recognition and better native answers. Pulling up web searches is fine and all, but part of what makes Assistant so useful is its ability to answer a lot of your questions directly. Siri just can’t compare, and we want to see that change.
Allow more default apps: With iOS 14, Apple finally let users choose their own default browsers and email clients. This was a very good step in the right direction. However, we’d like to see Apple continue to let loose a little bit, starting with changing the default SMS. Using iMessage is fine, but being able to switch to something like Signal to have all chats in the same app. Other app defaults would be welcome, too, like music and video.