iOS 15.2 is here — 11 biggest new features for your iPhone

iOS 15 review: a better iPhone experience
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

iOS 15.2, the latest iOS 15 software update, is here. The new iOS 15.2 software includes a number of upgrades, including a new App Privacy Report, Hide My Email Improvements, Legacy Contacts, Apple Music Voice Plan and more. 

iOS 15.2 also makes it easier to reset your iPhone if you get locked out, and it includes macro photo controls for the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Maps. Apple has recently released iOS 15.2.1. to fix a problem in HomeKit that could set iPads and iPhone into a restarting spiral.

Here's a closer look at the biggest changes for your iPhone. (iPadOS 15.2, the software update for Apple's tablets, introduces similar changes to iPads.)

Notification Summary

how to set up a notification summary in iOS 15

Notification Summary in iOS 15. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Apple introduced the Notification Summary when iOS 15 launched in the fall, but it's kind of a mess. iOS 15.2 fixes things by condensing everything into a single card rather than the current multi-card method. The idea is to keep the summary more relevant and less overwhelming.

Digital Legacy

Apple is tackling the concern of what happens to our data when we die. With Digital Legacy, iPhone users can designate a person who will receive their data upon death.

This includes everything from messages to photos and contacts. The designated person can even get your device backups. 

Nudity detection in Messages

ios 15.2 messages child safety

(Image credit: Mark Gurman / Bloomberg)

Gurman specifically mentioned Apple's latest attempts to curb child abuse online. After the CSAM detection fiasco, Apple instead spent some time on another methods that raise fewer privacy concerns. 

In a November beta release, Apple added the ability to detect nudity in Messages for child-owned iPhones. According to Gurman, when Messages detects a sexually explicit photo in Messages, it will blur the image and warn the child. If the child continues to try to view the picture, Messages will warn them once again.

Regardless, the child will be able to alert a parent within Messages. Parents will need to opt-in to this feature in a family-shared account. It also seems like the iPhone will analyze the messages for explicit images on-device, so it appears that this won't be a privacy issue. 

I'm sure there are adults who would appreciate this feature, too. Be sure to check out our 15 essential Messages tips for every iPhone owner as well. 

Face ID and third-party repairs

We've reported this before, but Apple is changing its stance on repairs from non-partner third-party repair shops. When iFixit did its teardown of the iPhone 13, it learned that replacing the screen can deactivate Face ID permanently. 

Apple confirmed that it had reversed this stance and that a future software update would allow Face ID to continue working with all third-party repairs. We think that update is iOS 15.2 since the software update is adding a Parts & Services screen that shows whether any replacement parts used on your phone are certified by Apple.

Macro mode controls on iPhone 13 Pro

iPhone 13 Pro Max, in front of a background of water

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max have a macro photography mode that kicks in automatically when you get close to a subject. While it's a nifty feature, it can be annoying in some situations and Apple has confirmed that it will be adding an option to disable macro mode.

Gurman says this is coming in iOS 15.2 with a prominent button to let you better control your photography experience.

Find My enhancements

An Apple AirTag, held between a user's fingers in front of a blurred green background

(Image credit: Apple)

iOS 15.2 also has improvements to the Find My network and AirTag compatibility. You will be able to actively search for AirTags nearby versus passively before. It used to be that if an unknown AirTag was on your person, your iPhone would alert you. But now you will be able to check before you leave, for example, to make sure you're not accidentally taking an unknown AirTag with you.

And in the next update, Find My will be able to find an iPhone in battery save mode for up to five hours.

Apple Music Voice Plan

Back in October, Apple announced a voice-only plan for Apple Music that would let you use Apple's streaming music service at a lower rate than its usual $9.99/month subscription. The catch is that the $4.99 voice-only Apple Music plan only works through Siri.

We've gone hands on with the Apple Music Voice Plan and it's actually pretty good. 

App Privacy Report

One of the biggest additions in iOS 15.2 will be the App Privacy Report Apple first promised when it previewed the iOS 15 update over the summer. This dashboard shows which apps are tracking you and what permissions they're using. Specifically, you'll get to see whether apps are trying to use your contacts, mic, camera and location over the past week.

The App Privacy Report a nice step in the right direction for smartphone privacy. If you don't like what the report spits out, you can adjust permissions — or decide to remove the app altogether. Want to give it a try? We've put together a guide to how to set up and use the iOS 15 App Privacy Report.

Hide My Email

During the iOS 15 announcement, Apple said Mail was getting a Hide My Email feature. This would allow you to spoof your email address to maintain some privacy. Just tap the cc field when drafting a new email and the option will appear.

Don't worry about missing out on receiving emails to that spoofed address. Apple will create a new address on its end and forward the messages to you. It's definitely a welcome feature and one sorely needed on most, if not all, email services.

Emergency call shortcut

iphone 13 pro back in hand with wood background

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

On iPhones with home buttons, you could trigger an emergency call by pressing the home button five times. That feature never got translated to iPhones with Face ID, but it looks like iOS 15.2 will finally address that.

Pressing the power button five times in quick succession will activate an emergency call, with an 8-second delay to prevent accidental calls.

Easier iPhone reset if locked out

Resetting a locked iPhone or iPad has been a hassle, but the new iOS 15.2 update makes things easier. As spotted by 9to5Mac, Apple is now allowing users to erase or reset a locked iPhone or iPad without having to connect it first to a Mac or PC. 

So if your iPhone 13 is locked out due to too many password attempts, users can now erase and reset the device from the lock screen. All it requires is an active network connection. 

iOS 15.2 bottom line 

Overall, iOS 15.2 offers a lot of welcome upgrades for iPhone users along with important security fixes. And there's enhancements worth trying out, such as the ability to rename or delete tags in Notes and seeing year to date performance in Stocks charts. We would update ASAP. 

Jordan Palmer
Phones Editor

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He's written about phones for over six years and plans to continue for a long while to come. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. Jordan likes finding new things to dive into, from books and games to new mechanical keyboard switches and fun keycap sets. Outside of work, you can find him poring over open-source software and his studies.