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iOS 15, iPadOS 15 Review Roundup: “The Most Incremental and Iterative iOS Release in Years”

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Apple’s latest operating system, iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, landed on devices today. Here’s a review roundup taking a look at some of the new upgrades.

The Verge starts its review off by calling the OS updates “the most incremental and iterative iOS release in years,” and that the updates don’t really change your experience much:

Looking at the changes and additions in Apple’s latest mobile software, there’s not much to point to in major design changes or UI overhauls; at the same time, Apple doesn’t seem to have made the kind of game-changing performance and battery life improvements that defined quieter updates like iOS 12, or iOS 10’s changes to how it lets third-party apps hook into the OS.

Ars Technica was impressed by the addition of “Focus,” where users can set up different profiles that show notifications in personalized ways:

iOS 15’s major new feature addition is Focus, whereby a user can set profiles like “work,” “sleep,” or “home” that display different apps and notifications depending on what the user is doing. It also redesigns notifications and adds numerous new features to Messages and FaceTime, among other things.

iPadOS 15 includes those same features, and it also brings iOS 14’s application library view and anywhere-widgets to the tablet.

Tom’s Guide notes that the new SharePlay feature is a big upgrade, noting that the ability to add Android users to FaceTime calls is a small crack in Apple’s walled garden:

iOS’s 15 revamp of the FadeTime video messaging app would go down as one of the most prominent changes in iOS 15, though the biggest addition isn’t available with iOS 15’s debut. That would be SharePlay, the much ballyhooed feature that lets you watch videos, listen to music and share your screen with everyone else on a FaceTime call. SharePlay won’t appear until a later update as Apple fine-tunes the capability that will be available across iPhones, iPads and Macs.[…]

One last addition to FaceTime will benefit people who don’t have an iPhone. Apple is extending FaceTime to Android and Windows, too, though with a browser-based interface and not a dedicated app. You can now schedule FaceTime calls by creating shareable links. And just in case you’re concerned that someone uninvited might crash your call, you not only have gatekeeper powers over who can enter a call, but you can also boot people out 30 seconds after they join if they turn out to be an imposter.

TechCrunch also noted that third-party app-makers like Google have rolled out a number of new updates to go along with iOS 15 and iPadOS 15:

The biggest change involves how Gmail, Meet, Tasks, Maps, Home and many of Google’s other applications will handle notifications. Should you have iOS 15’s new Focus Mode enabled, Google says prompts that don’t require your immediate attention will go to the Notifications Center where you can deal with them later. More timely reminders, such as those Google Maps sends you when you’re trying to navigate somewhere, won’t be silenced, and you’ll see them as they’re sent to you. Google says its goal was to make notifications “as relevant and timely as possible.”

Gizmodo praised the ability to finally add extensions to Safari:

When you think of browser extensions, you usually think of Google Chrome, but Safari supports the shortcuts, too. Now extensions are coming to Safari on the iPhone. In Settings, tap Safari then Extensions to see what’s already installed and which extensions are currently enabled, then pick More Extensions to find some new plug-ins to add to the list.

Wall Street Journal was a fan of some of the newest security upgrades:

We’ve all been there: You’re asked for your email address on some random website and you think, “I’d prefer not.” With Hide My Email, you can create unique, random email addresses that forward to your personal inbox. You can create as many addresses as you want and disable them at any time to stop the sender from reaching you.

To get it, you need to be an iCloud+ subscriber—aka Apple’s new term for those who pay for iCloud storage. In addition to Hide My Email, there’s a new Private Relay option, which encrypts your web browsing and hides your IP address when you use Safari. Your activity is sent through two internet relays designed so that no one (Apple included) can see what sites you’re visiting.

Any iPhone or iPad featuring an A12 Bionic chip or newer will support on-device Siri with the release of iOS 15. That’s most of the latest iPhone and iPad models.

While it may be a functional and convenient upgrade, the new iOS and iPadOS simply aren’t the most revolutionary upgrades we’ve ever seen from the Cupertino company.

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