Apple finally dropped iOS 15! If you are still on the fence considering whether to stick with iOS 14 or jump to iOS 15 (yes, Apple will support both), then this might help you a bit.
I have been using the iOS 15 beta, but could not fully experience the benefits of the new or improved features since it was running on a spare Apple ID. Now that it has gone mainstream, here are some of my favorite features.
There are a couple of new privacy features that you need to enable. Going to Settings, we’ll go through each one so you can configure it as we go along.
Tap on your Apple ID and then iCloud. You will find two (2) new settings there: Private Relay (Beta) and Hide My Email. Private Relay is a privacy proxy service from Apple. When you select it, it gives you two additional settings: IP address location, which you can set to either Maintain General Location or Use Country and Time Zone, both determines how an accurate location will be revealed to the sites you visit. Note that this DOES NOT mask your location similar to VPN services. The other setting just toggles Private Relay on or off. Unfortunately, for some reason that I have yet to find out (which regulation is Apple referring to that prevents them from offering this service), the Philippines is one of the few countries where Private Relay IS NOT available.
The other new setting, Hide My Email, is Apple’s email alias service. This is where you will see your randomly generated email aliases and the sites that each is associated with. When you create an account on a new online service, it usually asks you to provide an email, Apple will provide you an option to hide your mail email address, and instead generate an alias that cannot easily be linked to you. I have been using this for quite awhile and have amassed quite a number of aliases already.
Next, we go to Settings-Privacy. Tracking is not really new, but best to turn off Allow Apps to Request to Track. The new one, go to the bottom of the page and check out Record App Activity. You need to turn this one — what this does is it logs the last 7 days of application activity. You can download it later and inspect which other sites are accessed by the applications you used in the last week. Try this out and find out which applications are leaking your data to Facebook and Google!
Next, we go to Settings-Passwords. Now you can generate your one-time-password (OTP/TOTP) here. You may have been using different authenticator applications to generate those 6-digit numbers, now it is built-in on iOS 15. Whilst you are at it, go to Security Recommendations and enable Detect Compromised Passwords — so you know if your passwords have been compromised. This is also where you can get recommendations about your passwords, e.g., reused passwords or easily guessed passwords.
Another new privacy feature is found at Settings-Mail. Privacy Protection is new and you can find Protect Mail Activity switch. If it is OFF, you have two additional switches, Hide IP Address and Block All Remote Content. Hide IP address does what is says it does — your IP address is not revealed to the sender of the email. Block All Remote Content stops all remote content, e.g., pixels or trackers, from getting sent back to the sender of the email. This is usually used by email marketers to track if you have opened their email. Now, this tracking makes it useless for them.
Finally, there is other settings on Settings-Safari. One is the Hide IP address, which allows you turn it off, only for trackers or for all trackers and websites. I have this set for All Trackers and Websites. The one is the Privacy Preserving Ad Measurement, which you can turn on or off.
It is highly recommended that you check these settings out and enable every privacy feature that you want.
The new Safari design is a bit polarizing — some like it, others swear against it. Personally, I like some of the design. Things I like is the Shared With You feature that provides an overview of the URLs people shared on iMessage, though I wish that we can have a little more control on which URLs, i.e., depending on the source/contact, can appear on this page.
Safari now has web extensions. I have 1Password (of course) and Amplosion. Amplosion is heaven-sent if you are an AMP-URL hater like me. You can explore the app store for more web extensions, of course, but so far, I have these two. I wish Amplosion is on the Mac, too.
If you are paying for iCloud subscription (for additional storage, at least), your account will be upgraded to iCloud+. An additional feature I really like about this is the bring-your-own-domain support, which allows you to use your own email domain (and even share it with accounts on your Family Sharing) and have Apple handle the email service. I have added one custom domain and shared it with family already, and it even allows you to use that new email for FaceTime.
Speaking of iCloud, which is accessed using your Apple ID. Apple now provides support for Account Recovery Contacts, which, in cases that you cannot recover your Apple ID, there is still a way to assist you recover it by contacting whoever you designated as your recovery contacts.
In addition, a new Digital Legacy feature that is something you will set and hope you will never use — provides someone access to your account in case of death. This one is a coming soon feature as I don’t have it on my devices yet.
Live Text and Object Recognition
Using the camera or the Photos app, you can highlight and select text on the image or camera viewer, do automatic optical character recognition and paste it as text, send email (if email address), dial a number (if phone number), check for directions (if address) or translate it from one language to another.
Apple gave the Notes app some more oomph! I love the new tagging and @ mentions when you have a collaborative note page. It also has smart folders feature now. These new features make Notes my go-to application now.
And finally, a souped up Do Not Disturb setting! You can now have different device settings depending on your current mindset, e.g., at work, reading, gaming, you name it, you can create your own, and have it synced across your devices. What I like about this new feature is the ability to automatically change your home screen depending on your current focus mode — and yes, you can have the same app icons across different home screens, too. I wish there is an easier way to configure this, though (maybe on Monterey).
Other new features
There are other new features and improvements, but some, like the new FaceTime features, I rarely use since one of its major feature, SharePlay, is still not available. This might turn out to be one of my favorites in the future, though — watching Apple TV+ together, across the Pacific. And oh, you can FaceTime with your non-Apple device users now, too.
Have you seen the new Weather app? The animation is really awesome! I wish I could use it more, though, but I have Carrot Weather, my snarky companion.
There are other new features on various different built-in applications, but I rarely use them — so can’t be my favorite. :)
Is iOS 15 worth upgrading to? Definitely! If you have upgraded already, what are your favorite new features?