Apple store front in New York.
Apple store front in New York.
Image: 123RF / Bernard Bodo

One of the most significant features of the long-awaited iPhone update is the new Focus tool that allows users to prioritise notifications to their schedule, work hours and movements. The major update is expected to roll out with the iPhone 13 and also introduces improvements to video-calls, a new essential when meetings and meet-ups take place in the online realm.

“For many customers, the iPhone has become indispensable, and this year we’ve created even more ways it can enhance our daily lives,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice-president of Software Engineering.

Hardly anyone can imagine 2020’s lockdowns without a smartphone and this update tackles our phone addiction as both an enabler and as responsible guardian; increasing ways of communication and e-connectedness as well as introducing a new tool that limits nonessential distractions.

Group FaceTime introduces a new grid view, where more participants can be seen at once and FaceTime is extended to web use on nonapple devices. iOS 15 introduces SharePlay on FaceTime, a new mode allowing users to share experiences such as listening to music together, watching movies in sync or viewing apps together.

The new iPhone Focus.
The new iPhone Focus.
Image: Supplied

However, the update, in contrast with improved and increased ways to stay in touch and communicate, delivers powerful tools to help users focus, filter through their priorities and reduce distraction. The tool, Focus, is a feature that uses on-device intelligence to suggest which people or apps notify users at what time. Context is pertinent, such as filtering recreational apps and personal communication during work hours or muting unessential work e-mails at bedtime.

As with all convenience and personalisation, the individual is centred, being able to curate home-screen pages that only display specific apps and widgets to reduce temptation in moments of focus. Notifications can be delivered in a custom or suggested manner; where the priority of the message is arranged hierarchically and delivered at opportune times; no pesky e-mails from your boss on Friday nights or break-up texts just before your big meeting. On-device intelligence ensures that important messages will not end up in the summary.

The app also updates the photo app for ease of access and efficiency. Live Text can recognise text in photos; a handwritten love letter can be located with a few keywords. The camera app will also be able to recognise and copy text in the moment. Much like a QR code for a menu, the camera can recognise a Wi-Fi password displayed at a restaurant.

iOS 15 updates an already essential device into a necessary tool to navigate a socially distanced world. Apple provides a solution to frustrated workers that cannot escape their work life after hours or have intimate moments ruined by Miranda Priestly.

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