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Little things make iOS 15 a great update

Apple is releasing iOS 15 for all compatible devices today (September 20) after typically a long beta testing period.

I’ve been using both developer beta software and the publicly available ones on my iPhone 12 Pro and 12.9-inch iPad Pro since their release, watching bugs get fixed and features tweaked, or, in the case of SharePlay, being completely delayed.

It’s immediately obvious that iOS 15 for iPhone isn’t a major software update for the phone. This is unlike iOS 14, which has made the first big changes to the home screen since the very first version.

This is not to say that this is a small update without something interesting – because this is definitely not the case. After using the software over the past few months, it is becoming increasingly apparent that iOS 15 is full of small changes and tweaks that make a big difference.

One Safari change stands out

Apple received a lot of negative reviews for its Safari update in iOS 15, and the huge changes announced at WWDC were gradually rolled back during beta testing. This is great not because the radical redesign missed the mark, but because it shows that Apple listens and makes changes when it becomes clear that something is wrong.

While I won’t go into details of the redesign in general, I really like how you can now easily swipe between open tabs as well as between apps. It’s intuitive, works well, and means I don’t forget about the hundreds of tabs open.

Live Text seems like it was part of iOS from the start

Another small feature that I use consistently throughout the beta testing process is Live Text in Photos. This allows you to extract text and information from an image, such as a phone number on a restaurant sign or an email address on a business card.

I used this a few times while overseas a few weeks ago at some point to get the taxi contact details from a poster they sent me and it worked like a dream come true. I almost couldn’t believe that this feature was no longer available.

UI settings make a big difference in iMessage

I don’t use iMessage very much as most of my chats take place on WhatsApp. I use Apple’s messaging platform sparingly, however, and there are a number of distinctive changes in iOS 15.

I love how it collects all the links people have sent me so I can browse them easily, while the new photo organization makes it easier to flip through the pictures.

Brief description of notifications

IOS notifications have gotten a bad reputation in the past, especially for the way they work on Android.

Apple hasn’t changed much with notifications in iOS 15, however it did a few things to try and end the rather pointless notifications that bother you throughout the day. The new alert summary consolidates all those alerts that do not require immediate attention and bundles them once or twice a day.

If you have a lot of notifications from apps that you don’t want to turn off, but don’t need to see them right away, this is great. I’ve found it to be good for alerts from News Apps, Instragam, and so on. These dashboards can fill up with junk pretty quickly, so it’s worth turning off notifications entirely for the most annoying apps.

iOS 15 works on iPhone

What about iPad and iPadOS 15?

On the iPad front, there are a lot more obvious updates in iOS 15. Most of the big visual features we’ve seen on iPhones running iOS 14 are now on the tablet, including the app library and home screen widgets.

What I liked the most about the new iPad software is the small changes it has made to make multitasking much better.

There is now an ubiquitous three-dot menu that appears at the top of the display in whatever app you use. Tap this and you can easily place multiple apps side-by-side without resorting to gestures. This is a small change, but it has already helped me use my iPad more efficiently.

Another little tweak I’ve already come to love on iPad is Quick Note. This allows you to open a note so you can write on it while you’re in another app by simply swiping around the corner with your finger or Apple Pencil. This means that you can now jot down a note whenever a thought occurs, without stopping what you are doing.

Of course, iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 brought a lot of much larger new features, but it was these small changes that had the biggest impact on me.

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