Apple iOS 15, iPadOS 15 and watchOS 8 Update: Features and compatibility

 iOS 15 will be released on September 20, 2021. Along with it iPadOS 15, and watchOS 8 will also be released. iOS 15 update will be available for download on iPhone 6s and later models.The latest versions of Apple’s operating systems for iPhones, iPads, and watches will bring a range of new features.

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Image: Apple

What's new in iOS 15?

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Image: Apple

Apple in June 2021 introduced the latest version of its iOS operating system. The first developer beta of iOS 15 was released on June 7, 2021, and the first public beta was released at the end of June 2021, six days after the release of the second developer beta. The second public beta was released on July 16, 2021.

 iOS 15 introduces new features for FaceTime calls, tools to reduce distractions, a new notifications experience, added privacy features, complete redesigns for Safari, Weather, and Maps, and more. Apple is focusing this update on three aspects - staying connected, finding focus with productivity, and privacy.

Notification: Notifications have been redesigned in iOS 15, adding contact photos for people and larger icons for apps. To reduce distraction, a notification summary collects notifications together for delivery at an appropriate time and arranges notifications by priority. Focus is also another feature for Notification Summary, which recommends you on your lock screen to let you know of certain apps, depending on your calendar and even your location. 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. 

Safari: Safari features a completely new design. Controls are now easier to reach with one hand and give more focus to a webpage's content. There is a new, compact tab bar that floats at the bottom of the screen so users can easily swipe between tabs. Tab Groups allow users to save tabs and easily access them at any time across devices. There is also a customizable start page and web extensions for the first time. There's also a new home screen, which you can customize to your liking and even choose your own photos.

FaceTime: Apple has brought new features to FaceTime in iOS 15, with a focus on making it easier to connect with family and friends, while improving the audio and visual quality. 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.

Photos: The Photos app features a major update to Memories with a new design and an interactive interface. Memories now supports integration with Apple Music, using on-device intelligence to offer song suggestions for personalized Memories.

Maps: 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. There is a new city-driving experience with added road details and improved Transit features, such as pinned favorite lines, notifications to disembark, and AR walking directions.

Apple wallet: 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.

Weather App: The Weather app has been redesigned in iOS 15, showing more graphical displays of weather data, full-screen maps, and dynamic layouts that change based on weather conditions.

Live Text: Live Text is a new feature that uses on-device intelligence to recognize text in a photo that users can search for, highlight, and copy.

Privacy: iOS 15 also introduces new privacy measures, such as processing Siri requests directly on the iPhone, which has the added benefit of better responsiveness, Mail Privacy Protection to stop senders knowing if an email has been opened and detecting a recipient's IP address. There is an App Privacy Report view to show how often apps use the permissions they have been granted.

There are dozens of tweaks and changes for other apps, such as user-created tags, mentions, and an Activity view in the Notes app, Trends, Walking Steadiness, and a new sharing tab in the Health app, a systemwide Shared with You feature for highlighting content that has been shared in Messages conversations, and a new For All of You row in the TV app to recommend entertainment for the whole household.

Finally, Apple will let users choose if they wish to opt out of getting iOS 15 and just install security updates on their device while continuing with iOS 14. According to Apple, users will be able to continue on iOS 14 and still get important security updates.

iOS 15 compatible iPhone models: iOS 15 update will be available for download on iPhone 6s and later models. The update will also be available for download on the iPod touch (7th generation) and will be preloaded on the iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max, and the iPhone 13 mini.

How to download iOS 15 Update: Users on an eligible iPhone or iPod touch will be able to download iOS 15 on their devices by going to Settings > General > Software Update. Further, you can manually download iOS 15 on your device using a Mac computer.

Apple iPadOS 15 features


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Image: Apple

With iPadOS 15, iPad finally gets home screen widgets and an 'App Library' that can hide pages and rearrange them. Users will be able to create Split View spaces in one screen with the App Switcher and get keyboard shortcuts support. Apple also announces a new 'Universal Control' feature that will allow users to use a single mouse and keyboard between iPad and Mac. According to Apple, "Users can even drag and drop content back and forth between devices — great for sketching a drawing with Apple Pencil on iPad and placing it into a Keynote slide on Mac."

Users will also get 'Tags' that will help users categorise notes as per their choice. There will also be a 'Shelf' at the bottom that will show you all the opened apps. iPadOS 15 also adds quick notes that you can use parallelly with third-party apps and sites, and easily drag and note links and text. FaceTime, Messages, and Safari on the new iPadOS version will also get updated.

iPadOS 15 compatibility: The new iPadOS 15 is compatible with iPad mini 4 and later, iPad Air 2 and later, iPad 5th generation and later, and all iPad Pro models.The new version will also be preloaded on the new iPad and iPad mini.

How to download iPadOS 15: Users on the eligible iPad model will be able to download iOS 15 by going to Settings > General > Software Update.

What about the WatchOS 8 update?

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Image: Apple

The watchOS 8 update will bring features including a Portrait watch face, Memories collection in a mosaic grid, ability to share photos via Messages and Mail, and an updated Home. The new version will also include Focus along with Mindfulness as a redesigned Breathe app.

watchOS 8 eligible devices: The watchOS 8 update will continue to support Apple Watch Series 3 and above. The latest Watch Series 7 will run watchOS 8 out of the box. To use watchOS 8, users will also require iPhone 6s or later with iOS 15 or later.

How to download watchOS 8: watchOS 8 can be downloaded by going through General > Software Update on the Watch app on your iPhone. You can also download the update from your Apple Watch if it's connected to Wi-Fi, by going to Settings > General > Software Update.