Once a year, Apple releases a major update to its iOS software, bringing interface tweaks, security fixes and, best of all, a raft of new features to iPhone owners around the globe. If your iPhone supports the update, you can install it for free.
In this article we discuss the next such update: iOS 15, which will be released near the end of 2021. We outline the release schedule for iOS 15 and explain how to try it out before the public release; we also speculate about the design changes and new iPhone features you can expect from the new software.
When will iOS 15 be released?
iOS 15 will be announced and demonstrated at WWDC in June 2021, and released to the public in autumn 2021 – most likely September.
Apple has a steady release schedule when it comes to iOS. The headline features are shown off at WWDC in the summer (usually in June), a series of beta-testing versions are rolled out over the next three months, and then the final version of the software is finally released alongside the new iPhones in September.
The coronavirus pandemic made this a little different in 2020, with the iPhone event moved to October, but we fully expect Apple’s software department to return to the normal schedule this year.
If you want to try out one of those pre-release beta versions, sign up to Apple’s Beta software programme, which gives you access to the unfinished software builds ahead of time so you can help with bug-testing. But this comes with risks and shouldn’t be used on your main phone as it can become unreliable or even stop working entirely.
Here are all the iPhone models we expect to support iOS 15:
- iPhone 7
- iPhone 7 Plus
- iPhone 8
- iPhone 8 Plus
- iPhone X
- iPhone XS
- iPhone XS Max
- iPhone XR
- iPhone 11
- iPhone 11 Pro
- iPhone 11 Pro Max
- iPhone SE (2020)
- iPhone 12 mini
- iPhone 12
- iPhone 12 Pro
- iPhone 12 Pro Max
- All iPhone 13 models
In 2020 Apple spoiled us by ensuring that all the iPhone owners who had been able to run iOS 13 could also run iOS 14. But rumours have already begun circulating to suggest Apple won’t be able to pull off the same feat with iOS 15.
The oldest iPhones on the current supported list, in terms of technology, are the iPhone 6s, 6s Plus and the original iPhone SE. All of these use the A9 processor, and it looks like iOS 14 will be the end of the line for that particular silicon. That still leaves a considerable list of devices that will get at least one more year, as outlined above.
As the iPod touch comes fitted with an A10 Fusion processor, it’s very likely that this will also make the step up to iOS 15.
We discuss the iPhones that will get iOS 15 in more detail in a separate article.
What new features can we expect in iOS 15?
With the full unveiling of iOS 15 still far off in the distance, there’s little in the way of solid news regarding the new features that Apple will include when it updates the iPhone software. Unperturbed, we’ve scoured the internet, tapped our various sources, and taken a look at our own wish list to predict what’s likely to appear when WWDC rolls around in the summer.
Expanded choice of default apps
iOS 14 introduced a feature that Apple users have been requesting for years, with the ability to select their own default apps as opposed to the Apple variants. Sadly, this wasn’t a complete overhaul, as the change only applied to email and browser apps.
We’d like to see Apple expand this to include at least calendars and messaging apps in iOS 15. So, if you prefer Fantastical to Apple’s Calendar app or Signal to Messages then this would be a dream come true.
If you haven’t yet played with the feature in iOS 14, here’s a guide to changing your iPhone’s default apps.
Presentation mode in FaceTime
Among other things, the year 2020 will be remembered for everyone becoming reliant on video-conferencing apps. This experience highlighted the limited scope of Apple’s FaceTime platform.
One feature that makes it a lesser option than, say, Zoom or Skype is the lack of a presentation mode. This means that if work colleagues want to share their screen in a meeting, they’re out of luck.
Adding this to FaceTime would make it a much easier choice for Apple users who want to stick with the platform but still get some work done.
Of course, we hope not to be spending quite so much time at home in 2021, but it would be good for FaceTime to beef up its capabilities anyway.
Widgets on the Lock screen
Another innovation that arrived in iOS 14 was widgets. These has proved a favourite with iPhone users already, but one obvious omission is the ability to have them on the Lock screen. This would save people from having to unlock the device and navigate to the widget’s location, while giving the Lock screen additional controls and information.
To see how the existing feature works, check out our guide on how to use widgets in iOS 14.
That’s all of the iOS 15 rumours for now – but the leaks will ramp up as we approach WWDC, so be sure to keep returning to this article for updates and additional details.