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iOS 15 will make FaceTime, Messages and notifications smarter | Engadget

At Apple’s developer conference today, the company unveiled upcoming updates to its next mobile platform: iOS 15. Software engineering chief Craig Federighi announced a slew of new features coming to things like FaceTime, Messages and Photos.

Spatial audio will be coming to FaceTime to make the video calling app sound more realistic. Your friends’ audio streams will sound like they’re coming from the side of the screen they’re on. Noise reduction can also make you sound clearer by muting distracting sounds like leafblowers or vacuum cleaners in the background. Using wide spectrum, your mic can pick up your voice as well as the rest of your environment’s sounds. 

A new Grid view lets you see everyone in tiles while FaceTime links are coming to help schedule calls. You can send these in Calendar, WhatsApp and more, and even those on Android and Windows devices can use the links to join your FaceTimes from their browsers. SharePlay will let you watch a video with your friend in a call, and you can keep your movie playing while you explore other stuff on your phone, thanks to Picture-in-Picture support. Apple is introducing a SharePlay API to allow other developers to use this feature and already has support from partners like Disney+, Hulu, HBOMax, Twitch, TikTok and Paramount+. 

In addition to watching a show with your friend over FaceTime, you’ll also be able to see what’s on your phone through Screen Share. 

Federighi also announced updates to the Messages app. Instead of having to keep your unread notifications around to remind you when you receive something from a friend but aren’t ready to check it out yet, the new Share With You feature can help. When friends send you photos in Messages, for example, the relevant images will be saved to your device album. Apple determines relevant images as those that you’re in, so you won’t automatically get screenshots cluttering up your gallery. Share With You also works with Apple Music and Apple TV so that playlists and shows that people send you can be pinned and easily found again later.

Apple is also refining the way notifications work in iOS 15 to make it easier to disconnect when you need. A notification summary gives you a snapshot of all the alerts you’ve missed when you were away, while a Do Not Disturb mode turns them all off. When you’re in DND mode, a status display in apps like Messages will let your contacts know you won’t be getting back to them immediately. 

Federighi also introduced something called Live Text, which seems very similar to Google’s Lens feature. 

After adding credit cards, store loyalty cards and transit or theme park passes to Wallet, Apple’s continuing to add more capabilities. The app already supported car keys for select vehicles, and with iOS 15, you can get hotel room keys starting this fall with over 1,000 Hyatt properties globally. Apple is also bringing identity cards to Wallet. You can scan your driver’s license into the app, and they’ll be recognized by participating states in America. The data is securely encrypted and stored in your secure element. Apple is also working with the TSA to use Wallet IDs in airports. 

The Weather app is also getting an refresh. It’ll feature full-screen high-res weather maps showing air quality and precipitation data. 

Meanwhile, Apple Maps is expanding to Spain and Portugal today, as well as Australia and Italy later this year. The company added a globe view to Maps, and you can zoom into cities to see more details like new custom designed landmarks. Unlike Google’s Street View, this isn’t a photo-realistic rendering but drawings of the area, with impressions including crosswalks, road lanes, trees and overlapping highways. A nighttime mode makes the buildings look like they’re lit by the moon, too. 

Navigations are also getting updates — you’ll be able to pin your favorite transit routes to the top of results. Apple is also introducing an AR-based feature in select cities like London, San Francisco and New York City to let you point your iPhone at buildings to figure out where you need to make your next turn.

This story is developing, please refresh for updates…

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