Since iOS 15 dropped last month, AppleToolBox and every other tech news outlet have been covering all of its most prominent features. I wrote an article on the best iOS 15 features shortly after the release dropped.
While writing that article, though, I noticed that there were a lot of new features falling by the wayside. Even I was leaving these features out, as there was just too much to cover at the launch of this software.
Now that a month has passed, though, and we’ve all had time to play with everything new in iOS 15, it’s time to give those other features some attention! Many of these less-discussed features have been some of my favorites. These are great additions that you might not end up using right now, but when you need them, you’ll be glad they were added.
Alright, let’s get into it!
- The best iOS 15 features you haven’t heard about
- Get notifications when you try to talk while muted in FaceTime
- Listen to music with Spatial Audio in Apple Music
- Use unlimited iCloud storage when you’re transferring your data to a new iPhone
- Transfer your data to your loved ones when you pass away
- Take your Memoji personalization to the next level with one of the best iOS 15 features
- Access Spotlight search from the Lock Screen
- You can view a history of Shazam songs in Control Center
- Play relaxing background sounds, like rain or the ocean, right from Control Center with one of the best iOS 15 features
- iPadOS 15 will soon support eye-tracking devices
- Drag and drop text, images, files, links, and Safari tabs between apps
- Spread the word on the best iOS 15 features no one is talking about
The best iOS 15 features you haven’t heard about
Get notifications when you try to talk while muted in FaceTime
First up on our list of the best iOS 15 features is mute notifications. Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve all become much more reliant on video conferencing tools like FaceTime. And a common annoyance with these apps is trying to participate in the conversation only to realize you’ve been muted the whole time.
Well, don’t worry about that anymore! Whenever you start to speak while muted in FaceTime, you’ll now get a notification letting you know that you are muted. This allows you to quickly correct the mistake and avoid seeming unprofessional. It’s also a great way to ensure that your talking points are heard!
This is one of those small details that doesn’t seem like a big deal until you need it. I like this touch-up – now we can all mute ourselves for privacy without worrying that we’ll forget to unmute when we need to!
Listen to music with Spatial Audio in Apple Music
Another exciting new feature in iOS 15 is Spatial Audio. This has been treated as a footnote by a lot of publications, and I can kind of see why. You need AirPods Pro or AirPods Max to be able to use it, and even with these devices, only a small number of songs/albums on Apple Music currently support Spatial Audio.
That said, when you do find an album that supports this feature, you’re going to notice it. It creates an effect that isolates the singer’s voice from the rest of the music. When you turn your head left or right, the instruments stay with your ears like normal while the person’s voice is fixed in space. So if you look to the left, the person’s voice will move to your right ear, and vice versa.
While some people might not appreciate this, I think it adds a cool layer of immersion. I’ve written about this before in my AirPods Max review: I genuinely believe Spatial Audio (or three-dimensional audio) is going to play an increasingly important role in the way we use our mobile devices.
In my mind, it will eventually be like haptic feedback. It functions in the background of the UX but still plays a prominent role. I imagine that one day we’ll look back and, just like with mono audio, feel that stereo audio is missing something after we’ve all adjusted to Spatial Audio.
Use unlimited iCloud storage when you’re transferring your data to a new iPhone
Another one of the best iOS 15 features is unlimited iCloud storage when transferring your data to a new iPhone. I can’t tell you how many friends and family I’ve had who don’t pay for iCloud storage, and as a result, had a difficult time transferring the data from their old iPhone to a new iPhone.
Well now, that’s no longer a problem! Whenever you buy a new iPhone, Apple will temporarily give you unlimited iCloud storage. This will allow you to backup your iPhone in its entirety and copy that backup to a new device. You won’t have to pay anything to do so, so those who don’t want to pay for iCloud storage, back up their photos, etc., won’t need to.
It’s worth mentioning that I do think everyone should use iCloud. The data on your iPhone is arguably the most important facet of your device, and iCloud gives you protection and control over that data. There are plenty of services that make it easy to move your data between iCloud, Google Drive/Photos, and other cloud storage services. And you can download your data from the cloud to physical storage with relative ease. You aren’t as locked-in in 2021 as you used to be.
iCloud is also super cheap, and with the new iCloud+ features, a steal. The only reason not to get it (aside from budget constraints) is privacy concerns. If you can afford the $2.99/month and aren’t worried about Apple snooping over your data, definitely check it out!
Transfer your data to your loved ones when you pass away
Next up on our list of the best iOS 15 features might seem a little morbid. Even still, it’s an incredibly important feature, and I can’t believe it’s taken Apple this long to come up with a solution like this.
You can now establish legacy contacts in iOS 15. Legacy contacts are contacts who will be able to access your iCloud and iPhone data after you pass away. This includes all of your files, photos, notes, and more. To access this data, your legacy contacts will need proof that they are a legacy contact (which they’ll receive whenever you set this feature up) and a death certificate for you.
Once Apple verifies both of these, they’ll send an encrypted zip file of your data to that contact. This data will have an expiration date on it, so the person must save it to a device shortly after receiving it.
This feature hasn’t launched on iOS 15 yet but it will be coming in an incremental update soon. Be on the lookout for it and let your loved ones know to set it up as well!
I think this is an excellent feature, and I’m sure everyone can agree. Hopefully, other tech companies follow suit. I’d like to see the government pass some kind of legislation on the matter so that there can be a universally agreed-upon way of passing data on. As it stands now, I can see many users missing out on using this feature simply because they don’t realize it’s there.
Take your Memoji personalization to the next level with one of the best iOS 15 features
The next item on our list of the best iOS 15 features is much lighter in tone. Memojis are now way better!
You can now access way more features for personalizing your appearance. That’s great to see, especially since Memojis were already so robust to begin with.
Additionally, you can now create outfits for your Memojis! These outfits include options for other cultures, so you can tailor your Memoji to match your cultural garb.
In the grand scheme of things, Memojis are a pretty minor aspect of iOS 15. That’s likely why most outlets aren’t covering this new feature. Still, it’s been a lot of fun to create them. I hope you enjoy it, too!
Access Spotlight search from the Lock Screen
Another small but significant new feature in iOS 15 is the ability to access Spotlight search from the Lock Screen. Before, you could only access it from the Home Screen or Widget Screen.
To access Spotlight from the Lock Screen, just swipe down! This is the fastest way to find your favorite apps, search the web or App Store, and pull up relevant information.
Spotlight still isn’t as solid on iOS as it is on macOS, but it’s getting there! I notice friends scrolling through their pages of apps to find the one they’re looking for, and I would like to use this as an opportunity to deliver a PSA:
You do not need to do this! Whenever you want to pull up an app on your iPhone and you aren’t sure where it is, just swipe down on the Home Screen (or Lock Screen!) and type the name of the app. It’ll pop up instantly.
You can view a history of Shazam songs in Control Center
Every year, Apple makes a few acquisitions. One of the strangest in recent history was the acquisition of Shazam, a popular third-party app that is now baked into iOS, even though it hasn’t been rebranded as an Apple product.
Regardless of how strange the implementation might be, Shazam did get a little better on iOS this year. Not only can you access Shazam and identify songs straight from Control Center, but you can also view a short history of the songs you’ve identified. Just long-press on the Shazam icon in Control Center.
If you’re like me, then you use Shazam all the time to take note of new music. That’s why, for me, this is one of the best iOS 15 features. The worst feeling in the world is Shazaming a song that’s playing in public and missing the Shazam notification after the song stops playing. This solves that problem with a simple solution!
Play relaxing background sounds, like rain or the ocean, right from Control Center with one of the best iOS 15 features
I saw this feature pointed out on Reddit and have been in love ever since. In iOS 15, you can play white noise sounds like rain, the ocean, bright noise, and so on using the Hearing controls in Control Center.
Long-press on the hearing icon in Control Center and tap Background Sounds. Choose the one you want to listen to while you have headphones plugged in and enjoy!
These sounds will play even while you’re listening to music. So, as Reddit user u/Double_Philosopher22 pointed out, you can use this to add a unique texture to your music listening experience.
That said, you don’t have to use this feature while playing music! I’ve been pairing this feature with the Active Noise Cancellation on my AirPods Max to make reading, relaxing, and napping more pleasant and private. A simple and welcome addition to this list of the best iOS 15 features.
iPadOS 15 will soon support eye-tracking devices
This one is technically an iPadOS feature, but I figured this list of the best iOS 15 features was a good place to mention it. Soon, iPadOS 15 will support eye-tracking devices.
Once implemented, this feature will allow users with the proper equipment to use their iPad using nothing but their eyes. According to Apple, this feature shouldn’t require any touching to work the OS, which is hopefully true.
Note, though, that you will need additional hardware to make this feature work. The built-in iPad camera will not support this feature. If you already use eye-tracking interfaces, though, you might already have the hardware you need to get this feature to work. Again, this feature isn’t available yet, so we don’t have a lot of info to go off yet.
It’s exciting for disabled users, though! Every leap for accessibility that Apple makes is a win for everyone.
Last but not least on our list of the best iOS 15 features is drag-and-drop. This is a feature that has been available in iPadOS for a few years, and I’m surprised that Apple added it to iOS so quietly.
For those that don’t know, this feature allows you to drag and drop content between apps on your iPhone. Select a portion of text and hold your finger on it until it floats above the interface. Then with your other hand, swipe away to your Home Screen while keeping that floating text selected.
You can now drop that selection into any text field on iOS that you like. This feature also works with images, files, links, and Safari tabs.
I think this feature is great because it’s so intuitive. I wouldn’t be surprised if lots of users have already been using this feature without realizing it’s a new addition. It feels so natural and works perfectly.
Spread the word on the best iOS 15 features no one is talking about
And that’s it! Those are all of the best iOS 15 features that, as far as I can tell, have been left out of the conversation. They might not be as flashy as Live Text or Focus, but I think they’ll have a big impact on most users. Be sure to share these features with your friends and family so they can start digging deeper into iOS 15!
For more insights, news, and guides on all things Apple, check out the rest of the AppleToolBox blog.
See you next time!