It's official: iOS 15 is on the way. On Monday, we got a first look at Apple's next major operating system update at the company's virtual Worldwide Developers Conference. While we just recently saw a lot of new features with iOS 14.5 in April, including the ability to unlock your iPhone with Face ID while wearing a mask, stop apps from tracking you for advertising purposes and choose from four Siri voices, iOS 15 adds even more.
New iOS 15 features include spatial audio and Android and Windows support for FaceTime, easier sharing in iMessage and better directions in Maps. Keep reading for everything we've learned about iOS 15 so far, including when it will be released, how to download it, and some of the new features.
iOS 15 release date: Fall 2021
Apple revealed iOS 15 at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, as is typical. This year WWDC 2021 is all virtual, as it was last year, and is taking place June 7-11. The new OS is now available for developers to test. It will be available to download as a public beta in July.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said the final version of iOS 15 will launch in the fall. It's likely that this will happen in September, alongside the launch of the iPhone 13.
FaceTime upgrades: Spatial audio, support for Android and Windows
FaceTime will offer spatial audio to make people's voices appear to come from their position on screen, making your video chats feel more natural and lifelike. FaceTime will also start to look more like Zoom, allowing users to see all participants in a grid view, schedule calls, and share links to calls that can be accessed via browser on Google Android and Microsoft Windows devices.
iMessage sharing features
iOS 15 adds some new iMessage sharing features for photos, news articles and playlists. When a friend sends you multiple photos over iMessage, they'll appear in a dynamic collage formation that allows you to swipe through them or tap through to view the whole bunch in your photos app. If you want to access the same photos later, you'll find them stored in a new Shared with You folder, as well as mixed in with your own featured photos and memories. You'll also find news articles and playlists shared through iMessage in new Shared with You tabs in your News and Apple Music apps.
Apple Maps gets 3D street data, AR walking directions
Apple Maps gets an upgrade, with more elevation data, road colors and driving directions, rich labels, 3D landmarks and improved night mode. In terms of public transportation, you can also pin nearby public transit stops and station information to your iPhone and Apple Watch devices, and receive automatic updates and notifications as you ride and approach your stop. When traveling on foot, a new augmented reality feature allows users to scan nearby buildings in the area with the iPhone's camera to determine their precise position for more accurate walking directions, which are also presented in augmented reality.
How do you download iOS 15?
If you're part of Apple's developer program, you can download the iOS 15 developer beta now to test your apps. The OS will be available to download as a public beta in July, so you could download it then if you like, but be warned: Betas are usually buggy, and we don't recommend that you download it on your primary device. But if you want to, here's how to download the iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 betas.
Once iOS 15 is generally available in the fall (likely in September), Apple will probably send a notification letting you know you can update. Or, you'll be able to do it manually, by going to the Settings app > General > Software Update.