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The iOS 15 public beta is currently available, and official release is planned for the fall of 2021. If you want to try out the public beta, you can get it here, but it’s advised to download it onto a nonessential phone. It’s a test beta, after all, so it likely has bugs.
Apple’s newest iPhone software offers lots of updated features. So many, that it’s easy to feel a bit overwhelmed! So let’s just focus on Apple’s video conferencing app, FaceTime. Video calling is the new normal, and enhancements to FaceTime are a major selling point for iOS 15. Here are a few important features of FaceTime in iOS 15, and how to use them:
It’s safe to say that SharePlay will be a gamechanger in the Apple ecosystem. With this feature, you can watch a show or listen to a song in real time with a friend or group over FaceTime. Virtual Ted Lasso watch party? Yes, please.
You’ll be able to see each other’s faces and reactions as you watch a show or listen to an album together. Playback stays in sync, and volume automatically adjusts to voices on the call. So when your friend says, “I totally saw that coming,” she won’t be cut off by the movie score’s volume.
In order to use SharePlay, every device involved needs to be running iOS 15, and have subscriptions to the streaming platform you plan to use. In true Apple fashion, this feature is intuitive and user-friendly! Here’s how it works:
- Start a FaceTime call.
- While still on the call, open your streaming app of choice.
- Play a show or song.
- Your phone will prompt you with the choice to SharePlay the media you’re currently enjoying or to “Play only for me”.
- It will also display the message “‘[untitled app]’ may be able to determine who uses SharePlay together in the app.” This just means to watch a streaming service together, you all need to be subscribers to that service, like TV+.
- Tap “SharePlay.”
Apple will automatically play the show or music for every device on the call in sync. Everyone on the call will have control of play/pause, queue and other playback features. Unfortunately, your iPhone cannot dispense popcorn.
Sharing a FaceTime link with non-Apple users
If you’ve ever been unable to FaceTime a buddy because he uses an Android or Windows phone, you know how frustrating it can be. With FaceTime links, you’ll be able to invite everyone to your FaceTime call, iPhone and Android alike.
While opening up FaceTime to the broader smartphone community is a huge step in the right direction for Apple, we wish the actual FaceTime app could be available to Android phones. In the meantime, at least one iPhone will be needed to host the call. Here’s how:
- Open the FaceTime app.
- You’ll notice two large rectangular buttons: “Create Link” and “New FaceTime.”
- Tap “Create Link”
- This will open a box with sharing options. You can copy/paste the link anywhere you’d like, or share it through apps, like email or Slack.
- After sharing the link, you’ll see a list of “Upcoming Calls” in your main FaceTime app menu.
- When you’re ready, tap the link you created and then tap “Join.” This starts the call!
Android and Windows users will be directed to a web app on their default browser. They do not need to have an Apple ID to join. They’ll just put in their name, and join the call!
FaceTime links do not automatically expire, so they have to be deleted manually. When you’re ready to delete, just swipe left on the call link icon and tap “delete”.
With FaceTime in iOS 15, Apple is playing catch-up. Services like Zoom have supported screen sharing for quite some time, while FaceTime has not. Until now.
Whether making a presentation for work, or helping your grandma figure out how to find her grocery list in the Notes app, you can allow someone on the other end of a FaceTime call to see your screen. Here’s how:
- Begin a FaceTime call.
- At the top of your screen you will see a new FaceTime control panel for iOS 15. The button on the far right is a “screen share” button (a rectangle with a person in the bottom right corner of it.) Tap it.
- It will then prompt a “Share My Screen” button – tap it. After a short 3, 2, 1 countdown, your phone will begin sharing its screen with others on the call! Navigate to Safari, Notes, or whatever app you want to display on your call.
Just like portrait mode on an iPhone camera, this feature will visually blur your background while you’re on a FaceTime call. Now you will be the focus of your screen, not your dog eating leftover cereal in the background.
To take advantage of portrait mode, you’ll need to be using an iPhone with an A12 Bionic chip or newer. (That’s an iPhone XS, iPhone XR, iPhone 11, iPhone 12, or iPhone SE from 2020) With one of those devices, and iOS 15, enabling FaceTime Portrait Mode is simple!
- Tap the FaceTime icon to open the app.
- Make a FaceTime video call.
- When the call has begun, tap the small square with you in it. This will expand your window and show all your options.
- Just tap the “Portrait Mode” button in the upper left corner, and your background will be blurred!
There’s also a “video effects” button in the iOS 15 control center, creating another easy way to enable portrait mode.
Audio Options: Voice Isolation & Wide Spectrum
We’ve all seen the stressed parent trying to keep their kids quiet while on FaceTime. Maybe you’ve been that stressed parent. If you need to blur out background noise, FaceTime in iOS 15 has you covered. Voice Isolation filters ambient sound and singles out your voice. Here’s how to enable it:
- Tap the FaceTime icon to open the app.
- Make a FaceTime video call.
- Swipe down from the top right of your iPhone screen (or swipe up from the bottom if your iPhone has a “home” button). This will open the Control Center.
- Tap the “Mic Mode” button.
- Select your mode, in this case “Voice Isolation”
But maybe you need to hear the whole room. If you’re in a conference room with several meeting members, or the whole family is gathered around a single phone to FaceTime grandma, you’ll want to hear each voice with equal clarity. Wide Spectrum gives you that option.
After pressing the “Mic Mode” button, you’ll notice three options: Standard, Voice Isolation, and Wide Spectrum. For every type of FaceTime call you make, there’s an audio option to suit your needs! Also, Portrait and Mic Modes are compatible with any video conferencing app, like Zoom or WhatsApp.
The iPhone 13 Pro Lives Up to Its Legacy [Review]
In releasing new iPhones, Apple seems to follow a pattern; one big, game-changing innovation, followed by a season of incremental improvement. The iPhone 13 lineup is an incremental improvement; taking what we know and love from the iPhone 12 models, and enhancing it. But in this case, Apple made small upgrades where they count the most – a shrewd decision.
The iPhone 13 Pro comes in a lineup of four phones released simultaneously – the iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Mini, iPhone 13 Pro, and iPhone 13 Pro Max. While the iPhone 13 Pro price and the iPhone 13 Pro Max price are heftier (starting at $999 and $1099 respectively), they justify the cost with quality performance that we’ve come to expect from Apple.
With a stunning camera, mind-blowing battery life, and unsurpassed performance, the iPhone 13 Pro further deepens consumer trust in Apple’s star product. And it strengthens its already prominent position in the handset game.
The iPhone 13 Pro camera captures vivid images and Cinematic Mode videos
All four iPhone 13 models include a camera that’s been upgraded from the previous generation. But the iPhone 13 Pro (and Pro Max) cameras truly stand out.
Three 12MP lenses, including a telephoto lens with 77mm focal length and 3x optical zoom, are equipped with advanced sensors that capture more light, allowing for more detail. As per Apple’s MO, the deft balance of hardware and software allow the iPhone 13 Pro to take some of the sharpest images of any smartphone.
Macro Photography is another enhancement of the Pro camera. Enabled by the iPhone 13 Pro’s ultra wide lens and autofocus, your phone can capture objects two cm away or closer with insane precision – making a butterfly’s wing look like a stained-glass window. It’s a dazzling addition, but it has a hiccup.
Macro mode turns on automatically, without giving you an option to disable it, and this can get annoying. Apple says they’ll include an on/off trigger for macro mode in a future software update. In the meantime, the pros (pun intended) of this capability outweigh the cons.
All of the iPhone 13 models also include Cinematic Mode. This feature essentially works like Portrait Mode, but for videos. Capturing 1080hp at 30fps, the iPhone’s intuitive software spots your subject and blurs out background images. But you can also shift subjects (while filming or in post), creating immersive depth of field effects.
This feature still has kinks, and you’ll get the best results in well-lit environments. But it’s a blast to use, and puts advanced videography in the palm of your hand. Watch out Scorsese, there’s a new crop of filmmakers coming up.
When it comes to display, iPhone 13 Pro stuns with ProMotion
The iPhone 13 Pro sports a 120Hz OLED display. And for the first time, your iPhone can automatically adjust the refresh rate, depending on what you need out of it. It’s what Apple calls ProMotion. That means for everything from graphics-heavy gaming to Instagram feeds, the screen looks crisp and responsive.
It feels amazing to use; powered by the A15 Bionic chip, this phone seems to run seamlessly. It’s also pretty darn bright! At one thousand nits, your phone can finally be useful outside on a sunny day.
Apple also made some noise about narrowing the notch at the top of the display. It’s 20% smaller. While it’s still there, and still annoying to look at, the notch is necessary for the iPhone’s TrueDepth front-facing camera. It’s not only important for FaceTime and selfies, but necessary to unlock your phone via facial recognition. Which raises another point…
Many of us hoped that Apple would bring back some form of fingerprint unlocking, as it’s been difficult to unlock your iPhone while wearing a mask. But the folks at Apple aren’t ones to go backwards. A feature that came on iOS 14.5 allows a paired Apple Watch to unlock your phone, but it just doesn’t prove as helpful as we hoped. So it looks like mask-wearers will have to use passcode entry for now.
The iPhone 13 Pro has drastically improved battery life – it’s no joke
Long-lasting battery is right at the top of everyone’s list of things they want from their smartphone. Designers added a bigger battery and focused on efficiency to deliver a considerable battery life improvement to the iPhone 13 Pro.
According to Apple, it lasts an hour and a half longer than the 12 Pro, but you can get as much as three bonus hours. That’s especially impressive considering the power needed to run the iPhone 13 Pro’s display and 5G connectivity. (The Pro Max offers an even longer battery life.)
Unfortunately, the iPhone 13 Pro is still laggy when it comes to charging speeds. Only topping out at 20W when plugged in, you’re gonna need some time if you want to charge this thing all the way up. It’s a bit of a bummer, considering how fast competing devices can charge.
The iPhone 13 Pro performance is blazing fast, thanks to the A15 Bionic
Apple is very proud to have the fastest chip in a smartphone. Their A15 Bionic leaves Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 in the dust, and reaffirms that those geeks out in Cupertino have legit silicone skills. So it’s no surprise that the iPhone 13 Pro’s performance is second-to-none. This phone can handle gaming, multi-tasking, and 5G network speeds. It’s powerful.
With minor, but meaningful adjustments, iPhone continues to keep an edge on the competition. Living up to its legacy, the iPhone 13 Pro is one of the best smartphones we’ve ever seen.
The Best New iOS 15 Features You Should Know About
iOS 15 packs quite a punch. When it comes to added features, this software update is loaded! So much so, that it can be a lot to process (for you, not your phone). For help navigating through some of the coolest new things your iPhone can do from Maps to FaceTime, keep reading!
For starters, you need an iPhone 6s or newer to install iOS 15. Some of these features require an iPhone XS or newer, and others require an iPhone 12 or newer. If you’ve been wondering whether to install the update, buy a younger generation iPhone, or both, these features might convince you.
Focus Mode helps you tune out distractions and pay attention to the task at hand
The iPhone is a culturally revolutionary device. As a society, we’ve become extremely addicted to these small computers we carry around with us. Apple acknowledges the tech-absorbed little monsters they’ve created. And what’s more, they’ve taken steps to help us control our obsession, and use it for good. How generous, right?
Focus is a new feature of the iOS 15 update that allows you to customize notifications based on location, time of day, and even more personalized factors. By creating and customizing Focus Modes, you can allow notifications from certain contacts or apps, while blocking others. So you won’t get a notification from your Dungeons and Dragons group while you’re at work. Find out how to set up a Focus Mode and get… focused!
FaceTime in iOS 15 now includes Shareplay, grid view, Portrait Mode, and more
Finally, FaceTime has caught up with Zoom. iOS 15 makes it more convenient than ever to stay within the Apple ecosystem when video conferencing. Whether watching Ted Lasso with friends over FaceTime or video-chatting your entire family crowded around a single phone, the updated FaceTime enhances your experience with the app. New features include:
- Compatibility with non-Apple users
- Screen sharing
- Portrait Mode
- Voice Isolation & Wide Spectrum
The ability to FaceTime with anyone, whether or not they have an iPhone is an update for which countless FaceTimers have long been asking Apple. And with Shareplay, you can listen to your favorite music or watch your favorite show with fellow fans, even if they’re not physically with you. Find out how to use these new iOS 15 FaceTime features to one-up your video-calls.
Safari gets a facelift, and Tab Groups just might change your life
Safari has a nifty new design. And while some folks are taking a minute to warm up to the revamped look, it’s got some cool new tricks. One of the most notable is Tab Groups. Using Tab Groups, you’re able to organize your tabs into folders. Here’s how it works:
- Tap the the tabs icon in the bottom right corner (two overlapping boxes)
- The middle of the tab bar at the bottom of the screen will announce how many tabs are open, with a downward arrow – tap it
- Tap one of the “+” buttons to either create an new empty tab, or create one from the current open tabs
- Name your group and save!
Your new tab group will show up whenever you press the tab icon. You can add new pages to it, and delete it if you no longer need it later on. These groups work across your devices, so you can have the same tab groups when using Safari on your Mac.
(P.S. Another great new trick on Safari is simply swiping down on a page to refresh it. You’re welcome!)
The iPhone, a Brief History
In the iPhone 13 reveal that Apple called “California Streaming”, CEO Tim Cook declared that “iPhone has forever changed the world.” Way to go big, Tim. And in truth, it’s not all hyperbole. The iPhone revolutionized mobile phones, and shaped the global perception of what a smartphone looks like.
Making many small upgrades and a few large-scale innovations over the years, the iPhone has held its place as a trend-setting, industry leading smartphone. It accounts for well over half of Apple’s revenue, making the Cupertino, Calif. tech giant the most valuable company in the world. And it all began with the iPhone in 2007…
The iPhone – the third revolutionary product in Apple’s history
Steve Jobs announced the iPhone at Macworld conference in January of 2007. Smart phones like the Blackberry were already beginning to catch on, and rumors had circulated that Apple would get in on the smartphone game. Master marketer that he was, Jobs artfully communicated the iPhone’s features to a room full of Apple heads beside themselves with excitement. The giddiness was palpable.
He explained that Apple had been fortunate enough to release three revolutionary products in its time: the Macintosh, the iPod, and now the iPhone. He wasn’t wrong. iPhone boldly ditched mini keyboards, opting for a state-of-the-art touch interface. It included a camera, turning everyone into a photographer. It also put the internet in everyone’s pockets, arresting the attention of smartphone-owners for generations to come. After the iPhone, everyone was trying to catch up to Apple.
3G, the App Store, selfies, FaceTime & Siri – what’s not to love?
The iPhone 3G brought the App Store, busting down the door for millions of apps, not to mention the advent of social media. The iPhone 4 gave us that front-facing camera, so everyone from the President to your great aunt could take selfies. We became instantly and utterly obsessed. FaceTime came at the same time, cementing video chat into Apple’s ecosystem.
Today, we take Siri for granted. But this friendly voice-assistant was a giant breakthrough in its time. Included in the iPhone 4S, Siri arrived in 2011 (Alexa wouldn’t come for three more years). And who could forget the first time they learned that Siri could tell a joke?
Going from a curved, to straight-edged, back to curved, and back to straight-edged design, the iPhone’s style has always kept us on our toes. And we have Apple’s ever-savvy marketing and cult-like following to thank. Moving the headphone jack from the top to the bottom then taking it away altogether made big waves too.
The iPhone 6/6 Plus generation broke sales records and remains the best-selling touchscreen phone to this day. It was also the first generation that included two models of the same phone release, a trend that Apple has continued and even built upon.
iPhone X sets the standard for the modern iPhone
iPhone went straight from generation 8 to the iPhone X (aka iPhone 10). So I guess seven really did eat nine. iPhone X reimagined the smartphone once again. As Android competitors began to rival Apple in both quality and innovation, Apple undertook an ambitious new project that would future-proof the iPhone. Released in 2017, the iPhone X was a giant leap forward.
Apple had consistently asserted that it envisioned a device that was all display. Ditching the home button altogether, the entire iPhone X was one big beautiful screen. Its camera captured better quality images than anyone thought you could get out of a phone camera. It introduced OLED to iPhone hardware. And it also unapologetically asked a hefty $999. Apple had always been known for pricey stuff, but a grand?! The X’s indefatigable performance indeed justified the price.
The iPhone 11, 12, and (now) 13 models have all basically built upon the X’s breakthrough design. The cameras have only gotten better. The chips inside have only gotten more powerful. And they continue to fly off the shelves. The iPhone remains a torchbearer for elegant form, dynamic function, and marketing phenomenon.