No sooner will iOS 14.5 be dropping and we’re looking towards Apple’s next major software upgrade. Refreshed annually, the operating system for the iPhone and iPad is nearing version 15 and will bring larger changes to the way we use Apple’s flagship devices.
So, what do we know so far? There will be an upgrade to how users handle notifications, a redesigned iPad Home Screen, an updated Lock Screen, and additional privacy protections. This is all according to people with knowledge of the matter, who have remained anonymous for obvious reasons.
The changes currently in development are set to be implemented by iOS 15 and iPadOS 15. It’s said that Apple will announce the software updates – codename Sky – at its Worldwide Developers Conference, which kicks off on 7 June.
These major software updates happen every year to keep users dependent on the Apple ecosystem, as well as sell more devices and encourage developers to create new apps. Usually, these major upgrades drop each September, to coincide with new iPhones. Given that WWDC is several weeks away, Apple could still alter features within that time – or delay them to a different upgrade down the line.
Back to those new features. Apparently, iOS 15 will let users set different notification preferences, such as whether the phone makes a sound or not, depending on their set status, e.g. driving, working, sleeping or custom categories of their choosing.
There will also be an option to set automatic replies to messages depending on status. That will be an improvement over the current auto-reply feature, which is only currently available while driving. Apple has added some unique notifications features such as Do Not Disturb and Sleep Mode, but this will mark the first systemwide feature for changing notifications depending on a user’s status.
The company is also working on upgrades to iMessage, aiming for it acting like more of a social network and better competing with Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp. Those changes are still early in development and could come later, the unidentified Apple sources said.
The iPad line will also have its software upgraded and brings the most significant update to the Home Screen since it first launched in 2010: widgets. These are miniature apps that can display the weather, appointments, stock tickers and other info you might want to see at a glance on your Home Screen. Users will also be able to replace the entire app grid with only widgets.
Refreshingly, privacy protection is big on the agenda. One new feature in the works is a new menu that will show users which apps are quietly collecting data about them. While Apple has increased the privacy of its devices in recent years, thousands of apps have been identified as using trackers to collect and share data such as your phone number and location. Apple’s new feature is designed to weed out those silent snakes.
Apple is also planning a more minor update to macOS after its redesign last year, and updates to Apple Watch and Apple TV software.