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9 hidden iPhone features you need to try in iOS 15

Published Sep 18th, 2021 9:01AM EDT
iOS 15 Tips
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

Apple earlier this week announced it will release iOS 15 on September 20th. As we’ve come to expect, the release is scheduled just a few days before Apple’s iPhone 13 arrives in stores. While Apple went over some of iOS 15’s biggest features at WWDC a few months ago, the update has a number of smaller or somewhat hidden features that are worth highlighting as well.

As a quick aside, it’s often overlooked, or perhaps taken for granted, but the fact that Apple has released new iterations of iOS on an annual basis for 14 years straight is nothing short of astounding. And like previous iOS releases, iOS 15 has enough compelling features to make your old iPhone seem completely new.

iOS 15 tips and hidden features

1. Alert sound when going on and off mute

It’s happened to the best of us. You think you’ve muted your phone and keep on talking, oblivious to the fact that you can still be heard. Or, conversely, you accidentally mute yourself and no one else can hear you. iOS 15 aims to alleviate this minor frustration. With iOS 15, an alert will sound anytime you tap the mute button. Think of it as something of a small confirmation tone that you’ve either muted or unmuted yourself as intended.

2. Block tracking pixels

It’s not on by default, but this iOS 15 tip allows users to block tracking pixels. These pixels, if you’re unaware, are hidden within emails and allow marketers to discern when an email was opened and how long it was open for.

If you’d like to block senders from taking advantage of tracking pixels, there’s an easy solution. Go to Settings > Mail > Privacy Protection. From there, toggle on the “Protect Mail Activity” switch.

3. Push notifications for rain

Sometimes you just forget to check the weather before you head out. And sometimes, you end up getting caught in the rain as a result. With iOS 15, users will be able to receive push notifications for impending weather events.

4. Enhanced Apple Maps directions

With the new Apple Maps, users can finally access directions with specifications for specific arrival or departure times. Google Maps has had this feature for a while, so it’s nice to see Apple finally catch up in this regard.

5. Unlimited iCloud storage when updating

This is a particularly nifty iOS 15 feature. Now when you buy a new device and are looking to transfer all your data, you can take advantage of unlimited iCloud storage to facilitate the transfer.

Apple notes: “iCloud‌ will grant you as much storage as you need to complete a temporary backup, free of charge, for up to three weeks. This allows you to get all your apps, data, and settings onto your device automatically.”

6. Eliminate pesky notifications when gaming

This capability is part of Focus, a new iOS 15 feature we covered at length over here. Put simply, users running iOS 15 can set things up such that notifications and calls can’t come through when in a gaming session.

To do this, go to Settings > Focus. Next, tap the “+” button whereupon you can select Gaming. From here, you can determine which types of notifications should be allowed when gaming.

7. Copy and paste text from photos

With Live Text under iOS 15, users can copy and paste text taken directly from photos. iOS 15 essentially has built-in OCR functionality. In turn, iOS 15 can even take a photo of a handwritten note and transcribe it for you. Even cooler, iOS 15 can discern text in other languages and translate it for you. This will undoubtedly be helpful for people traveling overseas.

8. Drag and drop files between apps

iOS 15 will be a bit more desktop-esque. The new iOS update will finally allow users to drag and drop files between applications.

9. Locate a lost or stolen iPhone even if it was erased

This iOS 15 feature will let users locate a lost or stolen iPhone even if it was erased. Additionally, Apple notes that “the Hello screen will clearly show that your device is locked, locatable, and still yours” as to prevent someone from inadvertently buying a stolen device.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.

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