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This is the single greatest thing about iOS 15 and no one’s even talking about it

Published Jun 9th, 2021 9:04AM EDT
iOS 15 Features
Image: Apple

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Even though WWDC 2021 arguably brought us the most boring WWDC keynote we’ve seen in nearly two decades, the reality is that we’ve gotten somewhat spoiled by Apple consistently releasing exciting new software for years on end. In other words, Apple’s software announcements at WWDC this year may have been less enthralling when compared to what we’ve seen in the past, but that’s not to say that the keynote was completely devoid of substance.

Of course, it goes without saying that iOS 15 — as we’ve come to expect — was the main attraction at WWDC this year.  And while Apple naturally highlighted iOS 15’s more impressive new features — with SharePlay, enhanced FaceTime functionality, Live Text, and revamped Notifications being just a few examples — not a lot of people are talking about the fact iOS 15 is compatible with devices that go as far back as the 5-year-old first-generation iPhone SE and the 6-year-old iPhone 6S.

Apple, to its credit, has made a point of ensuring that even iPhone users running devices from years ago can still take advantage of the company’s latest and greatest software technologies. And while this may seem like a minor point, the ramifications are greater than you might think at first glance.

For one, a suite of new software features and performance enhancements can often make an older device feel like new. And second, by ensuring backward compatibility on devices that were released as far back as 2015, Apple can make sure that older devices receive the same type of security protections afforded to newer devices.

In case you missed it, the full list of iPhones capable of running iOS 15 reads as follows:

  • iPhone 12
  • iPhone 12 Mini
  • iPhone 12 Pro
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 6S
  • iPhone 6S Plus
  • iPhone SE (first and second generation)

On a somewhat related note, Apple with iOS 15, for the first time, will allow users on previous iterations of iOS to still download security updates. Word of this functionality first surfaced this past March and was confirmed by 9to5Mac earlier this week:

Users will have the choice to stay on iOS 14 and receive important security updates, or upgrade to iOS 15 to take advantage of all the new features.


iOS always has high levels of adoption from its user base, but some groups prefer not to upgrade right away. With this new feature in place, those people will no longer miss out on bug fixes and security updates.

All told, this is a great approach from a security perspective given that some iPhone users are sometimes hesitant to update to a new iOS if their current system is already running smoothly.

Lastly, if you happened to miss Apple’s WWDC keynote this year, make sure to check out our list of the 10 most exciting new iOS 15 features set to arrive later this fall.

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.