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iOS 15 release date, features, leaks and what we want

iOS 15
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

We're getting ever closer to the release of iOS 15 and that's certainly not stopping the rumor mill from churning. After all, the prospect of an iOS update means more new features for your iPhone, and that's always welcome.

Apple really changed things up with iOS 14 when that update first appeared last year, bringing with it features that users have been asking for such as widgets on the home screen. iOS 14 also added the App Library for automatically organizing your apps and the ability to change your default browser and email client. Even with a promised iOS 14.5 update bringing more changes, we're still expecting further improvements with iOS 15 later this year.

Based on the leaks and rumors thus far, here's everything we know about iOS 15 so far, which will debut on the upcoming iPhone 13 lineup and be available as a download for many other iPhone models.

iOS 15 latest news and rumors (Updated April 22)

iOS 15: Release date and betas

ios 15 wwdc

(Image credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

Apple usually launches the new version of iOS alongside that year’s latest iPhone. This typically happens in September. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Apple delayed the launch of the iPhone 12 series until October 2019; iOS 14 still released in September 2020.

With that in mind, we think iOS 15 will drop in September of this year. However, Apple is very likely to talk about its annual iOS update this summer at WWDC, its annual developer conference. Apple says WWDC 2021 will take place from June 7 to June 11, which is where we'll get a preview of iOS 15. We'll likely learn about developer and public betas around that time, too.

With recent iOS releases including iOS 14, users could install the public beta version to test out the new features, granted they could handle the bugs. There’s no reason to believe that Apple won’t do the same thing with iOS 15.

iOS 15: What devices will it support?

Apple has not officially released a list of which devices will get iOS 15. However, rumors suggest that the new version will come only to the iPhone 7 and above. That would leave the iPhone 6s, 6s Plus, and original iPhone SE out in the cold.

If that holds true, then here’s what iPhones we believe will get iOS 15:

  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone Xs
  • iPhone Xs Max
  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone SE (2020)
  • iPhone 12 mini
  • iPhone 12
  • iPhone 12 Pro
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max

And, obviously, the iPhone 13 series will come with iOS 15 out of the box.

There's a potential silver lining if you've got an older iPhone that might miss out on future iOS updates. The upcoming iOS 14.5 update reportedly gives users the option of separately toggling between regular updates and security updates — the idea being that older phones might still be able to receive security updates, even if the device can't handle a full update. It's unclear if that feature will allow devices that miss out on iOS 15 to still get security patches going forward.

iOS 15: Features

While we don't know a whole lot about what we'll see in iOS 15, we have heard some rumors and seen some leaks. According to a report from Bloomberg, iOS 15 will offer more granular controls over notifications. This means setting up statuses such as driving, sleeping, working, etc and adjusting how notifications and auto-replies work within each of those statuses. 

Bloomberg also reports that iPadOS 15 will include widgets for the iPad home screen, something that is long overdue. The publication claims it'll be the biggest change to how users interact with the tablet since its launch.

iOS 15 might also include a new privacy menu so that you can see exactly what information apps are gathering about you. In theory, this might be similar to the privacy labels in the App Store.

While it may come with iOS 15 or with a later update, Apple seems to want to iMessage to take on some more useful, social features. Bloomberg says that the company wants to take on WhatsApp and if anyone can do it, it's Apple.

iOS 15: What we want to see

We’re bound to see a lot of new stuff in iOS 15, but nothing is set in stone just yet. That’s why we have a little wishlist of things we want the new iOS to have. There are still some things Android does well that iOS could benefit from.

Improved notifications: This has been a pain point for iOS for a long time. It’s something that Google continues to refine in Android and we’d really like to see Apple take some of those lessons learned and apply them to iOS 15. Notification triage is a nightmare on iOS. Inline replies are sorely needed for apps that support them. Grouping needs adjustment to not bury important information. Actionable notifications, like deleting an email, should be clearer and more intuitive.

ios 14 siri

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

A better Siri: Let’s admit it, Siri isn’t that great. Sure, it’s improved quite a bit with each new iteration, but it lags significantly behind Google Assistant. Apple has a lot of room to grow in this regard. We’d like to see better speech recognition and better native answers. Pulling up web searches is fine and all, but part of what makes Assistant so useful is its ability to answer a lot of your questions directly. Siri just can’t compare, and we want to see that change.

Allow more default apps: With iOS 14, Apple finally let users choose their own default browsers and email clients. This was a very good step in the right direction. However, we’d like to see Apple continue to let loose a little bit, starting with changing the default SMS. Using iMessage is fine, but being able to switch to something like Signal to have all chats in the same app. Other app defaults would be welcome, too, like music and video. (iOS 14.5, coming out this spring, will let you pick specific music apps to play a song, but Apple has said this isn't a way to set a default music player that's not the built-in Music app.)