Apple releases iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 to general public

But the release date for MacOS Monterey has yet to be confirmed.
But the release date for MacOS Monterey has yet to be confirmed. Photo credit: Supplied

Just days after Apple users were urged to update their devices to fix a dangerous iMessage vulnerability, the company has launched major updates to its iPhone and iPad software.

iOS15 and iPadOS15 were announced at the annual WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) in June and have been available for users who are part of Apple's beta program for some time now.

But now the new features, including privacy improvements, a new weather app and updated FaceTime functionality are available to the general public.

Privacy has been a major focus for Apple this year. The controversial App Tracking Transparency feature meant users have to give explicit permission for apps to track them and was released with iOS 14.5, despite complaints from other companies about the financial consequences.

And the Cupertino-based tech company has added more privacy upgrades with the latest operating systems, including 'Mail Privacy Protection' to hide IP addresses so they can't be linked to other online activities, as well as preventing senders seeing if you've opened their mail.

How to update your iPhone/iPad:

  • Open 'Settings', select 'General', select 'Software Update'.

There's also a new 'Hide My Email' option, which creates unique email addresses for apps and websites that forward to the user's own email account.

'iCloud Private Relay', which keeps internet activity private by hiding IP addresses and browsing activity, is also available, although it's still marked as beta functionality and has to be switched on rather than being on by default.

The updated weather app features a new design, including animations that reflect the weather in a user's local area. 

Apple's purchase of the Dark Sky weather app in 2020 has allowed the integration of features from it such as gradient bars and maps for temperature and expected rainfall.

FaceTime, the video chatting app, has also seen several upgrades with iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, including the addition of 'Spatial Audio' so other voices in the call sound like they're coming from the direction in which each person is positioned on the screen.

And other devices can now be invited to FaceTime calls, including Android phones or Windows PCs.

One of the bigger - and more controversial updates - is the relocation of the address bar in Safari on iOS 15.

It's gone through a variety of iterations after negative feedback from early beta reviews and has ended up at the bottom of the screen as a major change.

There's also the ability to create 'Tab Groups' in Safari across both iPhones and iPads, allowing you to organise and switch between tabs easily.

Given the contentious nature of the address bar relocation, Apple has included the ability to switch it back to the top in iOS 15.

Photo credit: Newshub

Other features released include 'Live Text', which allows you to select the text in images like phone numbers and email addresses, and 'Focus', a new way of managing notifications and screen layout depending on the time of the day and what you're doing.

There's also a new 'Shared With You' section added to some apps including Photos, Music and Apple TV Plus. If friends send you photos, songs, TV shows or podcasts, those will automatically be highlighted in the 'Shared With You' section of the corresponding app. 

A release date for MacOS Monterey, the new version of the software running on iMacs and MacBooks hasn't been announced yet. It is currently in beta testing.