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Saturday, October 23, 2021

How Apple’s new iOS 15 highlights mindfulness and focus


iOS 15 introduces new features for connectivity, mindfulness and more.

Earlier this week, Apple announced major upgrades to all of its operating systems. The tech giant released a beta version of iOS 15 to developers, with a public beta coming next month. We expect Apple to release iOS 15 to the public outside of beta in September.

In the meantime, we downloaded the beta version of iOS 15 on our devices to test out its new features. While there are over 100 changes in the update, we take a look at the ten you will probably enjoy most.

FaceTime gets a significant upgrade and lands on Android

With digital interactions eclipsing real-life communications, Apple has put a lot of focus on improving how we stay connected using our iPhones. Most of these changes took place in the FaceTime app.

Watch shows, listen to music and play games together using SharePlay

Listen to Music together using SharePlay

With iOS 15, participants can experience more content together on FaceTime. SharePlay integrates into FaceTime, allowing synced playback between different people on a call, as well as screen sharing.

Users can also cast shows and movies on Apple TV while still syncing playback with their friends during a call on iPhone. Apple also released developer tools to allow third-party apps to utilise SharePlay, enabling more shared experienced through FaceTime.

FaceTime is now on Android and Windows… kind of

FaceTime on Android

After years of requests from customers Apple has – kind of – brought FaceTime to Android with the new iOS 15 update. Android users can now join FaceTime calls through a web browser, and while they can’t start a call, they can join FaceTime calls if invited to one.

FaceTime on Android is a bare minimum implementation solely to encourage more calls with people regardless of device. While FaceTime is technically making its way to Android, the experience is well below optimal for Android users. It’s good enough to work but bad enough to tempt them perhaps to switch to an iPhone.

Portrait mode and noise-cancelling

While not specific to FaceTime, iOS 15 brings portrait mode videos and noise-cancelling audio for all video calls on iPhone. This will lead to crispier video quality and clearer audio during video calls. In a demo video, Apple showed an impressive level of noise cancelling. In our demos, both audio and video qualities were significantly improved with iOS 15.

Avoid distractions with new tools to focus

Alongside many features to improve connectivity, Apple also introduced some tools to help us disconnect when we need to.

Notification Summary

Group notifications together in a summary

With iOS 15, Apple dramatically changed the notifications experience on iPhones. Instead of getting distracted with every incoming notification, users will be able to set up a notification summary that’s delivered at various points in the day. Notification summaries are configurable so that time-sensitive notifications can still get delivered instantly, while less urgent notifications are grouped and silently sent to the device without disruptions.

Focus modes

Focus on what’s important with different modes

Over the past few years, we saw Do Not Disturb expand to include two new modes: sleep and driving. This year, Apple revamped Do Not Disturb and introduced a new set of configurable Focus modes. Focus modes include pre-defined ones such as gaming, working out, and sleep. Users can also create their own focus modes tailored to their lifestyle.

Read also: Colourful iMacs, AirTags: All you need to know about Apple’s unveiling event

When in a specific focus mode, only a selection of apps can notify users, while the rest are silently delivered in the background. For example, someone may set up Mail and Slack to send notifications when in Work mode but silence notifications from personal messaging apps. Users can also configure focus modes to hide certain pages from the home screen. This allows users to create home screens specifically tailored to what they’re currently up to.

Apps can detect a user’s focus mode, and with permission, show it on their profile in messaging apps to notify users that the person they’re messaging is currently in a focus mode.

Your iPhone can use time, location, and other triggers to select a particular focus mode automatically. Additionally, Smart Activation can be used to detect when a focus mode should be chosen intelligently.

Safari is a whole lot smarter

Safari is redesigned to work better with one hand

With every major iOS release, we often see a few apps get more updates than their counterparts. This year, Safari received a tonne of changes, making the browser a lot more modern. It includes a gesture-based interface that makes it easier to use Safari with one hand, particularly on larger iPhones. In addition, the address bar was also shifted to the bottom of the screen to improve reachability.

The update also introduced Tab Groups – a more thoughtful way of managing tabs. Users can create various Tab Groups for different workflows, making it easy to jump right into the zone. These will sync across all of your connected Apple products, ensuring seamless flow from one device to another.

Safari’s redesign may take some getting used to, but the experience feels a lot more natural than previous versions. In fact, after just a few days of usage, the current version of Safari already feels significantly outdated.

Text selection in Photos

Select, translate and interact with text in a photo

One new feature that makes for an impressive demo is text selection in Photos. On iOS 15, users will be able to select, copy and paste text directly from a photo. Additionally, links and phone numbers will become interactive, allowing people to tap to call a phone number right from an image. You can click here to view a demo of this feature in action.

Quickly join meetings in Calendar

Join meetings with one tap

The calendar app finally supports quickly joining a Zoom or Google Meet call. Just press one button to dive into the meeting rather than copy-pasting links and switching between apps. A welcome change for sure, particularly if you’re running late!

Shared With You

As part of its new connectivity tools, iOS 15 introduces a Shared With You section inside Photos, News, Music and TV. The new section will show relevant content that’s been shared with you by friends on iMessage.

So if a friend sent you a song recommendation, it wouldn’t get lost in your chat, but instead, it’ll be made available in the Music app the next time you open it.

Notifications for forgotten devices

If you forget your AirPods behind, your iPhone will notify you once you’ve gone far enough to have potentially forgotten it. This works among many Apple devices, including iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods.

iOS 15 also brings many new features to the iPhone, including a redesigned Weather app, Safari extensions, and more. Over the coming months, we’re likely to see some more features make their way into the beta before the final public launch. We’ll report any interesting changes right here on Doha News, so be sure to stay tuned!

There’s a lot to get excited about with iOS 15. What features are you looking forward to the most? Let us know in the comments.

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