Should I Download iOS 15?

Apple is notorious for their rapidly-produced new technology—every year, they release a new line of iPhones and other devices, typically along with a new update for existing devices. This year, Apple released iOS 15, an update full of change and useful technology. But there’s a lot to unpack with one update! This article will break down the new features of iOS 15 and the safety aspect involved in choosing to download, plus the best devices to use it on.

Does my Apple device support iOS 15?

With every new iOS update that comes out, there’s a fleet of Apple users asking the same question: should I download the new update? With older models, users fear that the newer technology may not be designed for their device. It can bring handy new features, but it can also affect the phone’s battery life, speed, and overall quality.

According to Apple, the following iPhones are all compatible with iOS 15: iPhone 13 (including Mini, Pro, and Pro Max), iPhone 12 (including Mini, Pro, and Pro Max), iPhone 11 (including Pro and Pro Max), iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR, iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus, and iPhone SE.

Technically, all these devices do support iOS 15. But be aware that older phones may run slower or experience issues. If you use other Apple devices, like the Apple Watch, you also may need to update your phone in order to be able to update your Watch.

I personally have an iPhone 8. While the features of iOS 15 work well on the device, my phone now shuts out of apps at random, can be slow to respond to the home or volume buttons, and seems to have a shorter battery life. This won’t happen to everyone. But still, take a moment to weigh the pros and cons of updating if your iPhone is getting relatively old. Your new iPhone 13 Mini was built to handle iOS 15; your trusty iPhone 6S was not.

New features of iOS 15

If you do choose to update to iOS 15, there are a lot of new features to explore. Almost every aspect of the iPhone has been changed in some way. Here, we’ll break down the changes so you know what to expect before downloading Apple’s new software.

FaceTime

Apple made several advancements to their FaceTime technology in this update. FaceTime calls can now be done in a group rather than just one-on-one, a feature that Apple had been missing. Family and friends appear on FaceTime’s new grid view which gets everyone on the screen at once. For iPhones that have Portrait mode—typically the Pro or Plus version of iPhones— FaceTime now takes advantage of that to provide a focused view of the person calling.

SharePlay allows users to watch videos or listen to music together on FaceTime with shared controls. But one of the most exciting FaceTime updates is that now, non-Apple users can join FaceTime calls through their web browser. Apple users can create a link from their iPhone or iPad and share it. Gone are the days when Apple users had to worry about switching to Skype or Zoom if they want to call their Android friend.

Music

Apple Music didn’t undergo any massive changes with iOS 15. Their big shift was earlier in the year with an iOS 14 update when they unveiled a new spatial audio feature. It uses Dolby Atmos technology to create a “surround sound” effect with your headphones rather than sticking to the traditional two-sided audio format.

iOS 15 builds off of that feature and incorporates Apple Music into more of the iPhone, like with Messages and Memories. You can pick your own songs to play with Memories instead of using a few of Apple’s preselected instrumental tracks. You can also share songs with friends, which will appear in a special section of their Music app.

Do Not Disturb

The Do Not Disturb feature on the iPhone, which allowed users to mute all notifications when they needed a break or were in the middle of something, has been greatly expanded with iOS 15. Now, Do Not Disturb has been incorporated into a new feature called Focus.

Focus allows users to create custom filters that block out notifications and apps that would serve as a distraction. Instead of Do Not Disturb, which blocks out all notifications, users can customize a Focus that fits what they’re currently doing.

Apple provides Work, Sleep, and Personal Focuses automatically, but users can create their own as well. For example, if you only wanted to get texts from your boss and coworkers from 9 to 5 on weekdays, you could set your Work Focus to do just that. You also have the option to block out app notifications from your home screen, which helps with concentration. Users can choose to schedule a Focus to go on every day at a certain time, or they can turn it on manually.

Maps

Apple’s Maps became even more detailed in iOS 15 with 3D buildings, enhanced details on maps, new colors, and a new nighttime mode. For those who travel on foot, iOS 15 has also updated pedestrian maps. Augmented reality allows you to simply hold your phone up and get detailed directions on the turns you need to make to get to your destination.

Messages

iMessage wasn’t forgotten in the new update either; Apple added several new features to their messaging system. The Shared With You integrations make content sent via iMessage much more accessible to the recipients. Photos downloaded will appear in a special section of the Photos app. The same goes for Safari links or Apple Music songs.

Photos can also be downloaded to your device as a group from iMessage now. This feature is incredibly helpful as it means users will no longer have to go to each individual photo and save them.

You can also set up Focus mode to notify friends or family via iMessage that you’re busy if they try to send you a text. That way, you won’t have to worry about ignoring someone. They’ll already know that you didn’t see the message.

Safari

One of the most jarring switches in iOS 15 is the new look of Safari, Apple’s web browser. The tab bar has shifted from the top of the screen to the bottom, a switch that makes it easier to use with one hand. Tabs are now shown in smaller squares instead of stacked on top of each other. Users can also save tabs into groups. All of these changes make for a simpler viewing experience.

Privacy with the new update

Apple has never claimed to be the most private for users. However, the iOS 15 update continues to push the limits of technology in users’ personal lives. Many of the newest features, like Focus, become intuitive after a few uses; the phone makes suggestions to the user as to when they should turn on Focus, for example.

It also suggests where you are from your next destination in Maps–before you input what your next destination is. The new Live Text feature scans handwriting or other written and printed text to “read it” and take action accordingly. Our phones pick up a lot of information about us and iOS 15 doesn’t stray from that.

With iOS 15, users are also encouraged to upload even more private information to their phones. Apple is running a public beta test in their Apple Wallet app where users can upload their driver’s licenses to keep for convenience. While this is definitely a way to make life easier, it’s also unsafe to upload and keep your license on any digital platform.

However, iOS does include a few new features that take steps towards protecting user information. When you open the Mail app for the first time after updating iOS 15, you can opt in to Mail Privacy Protection. The service hides your IP address and privately loads all remote content when using Mail. Furthermore, FaceTime calls are now end-to-end encrypted. This is a great safety measure, especially with the updated ability to make calls between iPhones and browsers.