iOS has a number of new features, but not all of them are easy to discover. Here's our roundup of 15 things you can do with your iPhone and iOS 15.
Translate text from anywhere
Ok, admittedly this function is well overdue, but with iOS 15 you can now directly translate text on websites, apps, messages, etc. To do this, just highlight the text as you would when copying it, then tap Translate instead. A brief message will appear telling you that the text will be sent to the Apple servers, and a few seconds later you will have your translation.
You can also have it translated locally on your device. For this you have to activate the option in Settings > Translate > and enable On device Mode. All that's left then is to download the desired languages and you're ready to go.
Share content with Siri
When sharing a video or website with friends, the process is surprisingly cumbersome. First you have to find the Share button, then select the right app one from a list, find your friend among the contacts and finally confirm the sharing. Not exactly a fluid experience. In iOS 15, Apple introduces the option of letting Siri do this. Just activate Siri and tell her which contact you want to share the content with. It works with pictures, videos, websites, and many other things.
If Siri cannot share the content directly for any reason, it warns you that it can only send a screenshot. One nice touch is that it will take this automatically, saving you the bother. The downside is that you can only share via the Messages app, so if you want to send things via WhatsApp or other messenger apps, you'll need to revert to the manual route.
Record App Activity
The new Record App Activity function is a great way to monitor the behaviour of the apps installed on your device. When activated, it will be record which apps access your location, microphone, camera or photos, and at what time across a seven day period. With this you can find possible data spies or simply get an overview of how your system is being used.
To enable the feature, go to Settings > Privacy > Record App Activity then enable Record App Activity. To check what the apps are up to, return to the same page and this time you'll see the App Activity Report instead.
Set contacts for recovery and inheritance
Your Apple ID and iCloud account are becoming more important every year as it's full of purchases, services, cloud data, photos and more. The worrying thing is if you lose access, say by passing away or becoming incapacitated, then much of this data could be lost forever for your family or the other significant people in your life.
Apple has addressed this with two new features in iOS 15: Account Recovery Contacts and Digital Inheritance. According to Apple, an Account Recovery Contact 'is someone who can verify your identity and help you regain access to your account and all of your data if you ever get locked out.'
Obviously, this should be someone you trust and whom Apple can reach to help you reset your password if you ever lose it. To set this up, open Settings and tap your Apple ID at the top of the page. Then select Password & Security > Account Recovery. You will see an option to Add Recovery Contact.
What about access to all of your content if you should die? In the event of your death, a Digital Inheritance contact is a person who can request access to your data. They can recover your messages, photos, notes, contacts, calendar events, app purchases, and your device's backup, but not your iCloud keychain or licensed media purchases. For more details on this, read how to unlock an iPhone when its owner passes away.
It's probably a good idea to set these two things up with trusted family members soon after you've updated to iOS 15.
Notifications from the weather app
Do you sometimes wish you had been warned about the rain shower that caught you on your way home? Well, help is at hand as you can now activate notifications for your location in iOS 15 and be informed when a storm or any sudden snowfalls are imminent. To do this, go to the Weather app, tap on the three lines on the bottom right corner, then tap the three dots at the top of the screen and select Notifications.
Scan text anywhere
Ok, this may not be a hidden feature per se as it was promoted very prominently during WWDC 2021. Nevertheless, it is somewhat hidden in the controls, which is why we have included it in this list. With the new Live Text function, you can copy text from almost all surfaces in photos or directly in the camera app.
For example, you can point your camera at a phone number, tap the number and call it directly, or copy and paste it into any text field.
To see how this very useful feature works, read how to convert images to text on iPhone, iPad and Mac.
Set text size for each app
If your eyesight is impaired, or like us you're just succumbing to the relentless march of time, this function can make your life a lot easier. It allows you to set the font size in apps individually, making it easier to read those tiny words some developers seem to love. It's also a tool you can add to Control Centre and then access from any app.
To activate the function, go to Settings > Control Centre and select the Text Size option. Then, if you want to change the font size in an app, just go to Control Centre while the app is open. There you will find a new button marked AA for the font size. A large slider lets you make the text larger or smaller, while a toggle switch at the bottom of the screen lets you choose between all apps or just the app you are currently using.
Deactivate Night Mode permanently
The night mode on the iPhone Camera app is excellent, but for some people there are situations where you don't want to activate it. Up to now, it had to be disabled manually, because the feature turns on automatically in situations with poor lighting.
In iOS 15, it is finally possible to disable night mode by default. To do so, go to Settings > Camera, tap Preserve Settings then disable Night Mode.
Adjust the speed of video playback
Apps like YouTube have had variable playback speeds for some time, but the standard iPhone video player does not. In iOS 15, the default player in Safari now finally has some speed controls. While playing a video, tap the menu in the lower right (the three dots) and you can choose from up to five different playback speeds.
The magnifying glass is back!
The text box magnifier has made a triumphant return in iOS 15! In its absence there were of course other ways to see what you were doing when editing text - such as by long pressing the space key, whereupon the keyboard turned into a trackpad and you could place the cursor at the desired position in the text. But now the text magnifying glass is back and works exactly as before (just hold down one point in the text for a long time).
Find your iPhone when it's turned off
Find My iPhone is a great way to find a lost device. But if someone steals your iPhone, all they have to do is turn it off to disable any tracking abilities. You can see the last location of your device (so long as you've enabled that in Settings), but that's not of much help.
iOS 15 now automatically puts a powered-off iPhone 11 or later into an ultra-low power state in which the Bluetooth transmitter remains active, effectively turning the iPhone into an AirTag. Under the slider for switching off the iPhone, a small note indicates that you can find your iPhone when it is switched off. So, if the device goes missing, everything is literally not lost as Find My iPhone can tell you where it's gone.
Faster / slower voice memos
Listening to voice memos on your iPhone has just received an upgrade as you can now choose the speed at which it plays back. To test it out, select a voice memo from your list and tap the three-line icon on the left hand side.
In the menu that appears set the playback speed via the slider, and you can also activate the Skip Silence feature. With this the iPhone will automatically detects any gaps during a recording and automatically fast-forwards to the next louder passage.
Reduce bass on the HomePod
The HomePod has really impressive sound, but the extreme bass has been a major criticism since the speaker was introduced. Now, finally, Apple has responded to the criticism by adding an option in the Home app that allows you to minimize the bass intensity with a simple check mark.
To do this, open the Home app then press and hold the HomePod icon. Scroll to the very bottom and tap the Settings. Next, select Music & Podcasts and activate the Reduce bass setting.
Unfortunately, it's not possible to set the bass individually, so in this case there is only black or white: either lots or little bass. However, your neighbours will thank you if you opt for the latter.
This is a feature that is so natural and familiar that we wonder why Apple only introduced it with iOS 15. If you have a web page open in the Safari browser, you can now simply drag the page down from the top to reload the page, as you can with pretty much every other browser. Alternatively, you can use the refresh button in the search bar as before.
Load / delete apps using the search bar
The search bar has been beefed up somewhat in iOS 15, making it more functional. If you search for an app using the search bar, you will not only be shown whether it is already installed on your iPhone, but also if it can be downloaded from the app store. In the case of the latter, you will see a download symbol appear next to the app. You can also search for an already installed app using the search bar and then delete it by long-pressing the app icon and then selecting Delete.
So, there you have it, 15 hidden tricks that are now part of iOS 15. Be sure to also read does your iPhone get all the iOS 15 features? and find out if iOS 15 will slow down your iPhone? to ensure you'll get the most from Apple's latest software.
We also have all the latest information about iOS 15, including the latest version and any problems people are reporting.
Based on a report from Macwelt.