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. 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 way off yet, and as such there hasn’t been much in the way of solid news about what Apple plans to bring to the iPhone in 2021.
That being said, there are still rumours of features that didn’t quite make the cut for iOS 14 that could now be ready. Here’s the speculation that’s currently doing the rounds, as well as some items from our iOS 15 wish-list.
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.