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Watch: Apple updates FaceTime in new iOS 15 by adding 'spatial audio'
The new update will arrive later this year and brings a host of changes to the phone.
Apple said that the changes were intended on making it easier for people to stay connected, but also to ensure that they could better focus on whatever they are doing at a given time.
As such, it added changes to FaceTime and Messages that make it easier to share content, but also new notifications tools that let users more easily sort through and ignore any particular updates. Apple is also making it easier to engage with content on the phone, including options for photos that will recognise text and let users search for any particular words.
Among the changes are a host of features aimed at making calls in FaceTime more natural, and Apple recognised that video calls have become extra important after the last year. They include spatial audio, so that people’s voices will sound like they are really coming from space; and voice isolation tools that ensure the microphone blocks out all the ambient noise.
The video aspect of FaceTime is also improved, including with the addition of a “grid view” so that users can see a full set of people’s faces, in opposition to the sometimes confusing current view where their heads move around. Apple will also bring portrait mode to FaceTime calls.
Those FaceTime calls can also be scheduled and planned more easily, now. A new feature called FaceTime links allows people to send a quick link that can be chosen and opened for video calls, and that feature will work on Android and PC, too.
A new tool called SharePlay will also let people listen to and watch content during their calls. You can bring music, watch shows or films together, and share your own iPhone’s screen.
That SharePlay feature does not work only with Apple’s own apps and streaming services, and there is an API that can be integrated with other apps. Users can watch TikToks together, for instance, or share a screen while playing a game.
Similar changes are coming to Messages, too, with a similar focus on bringing rich content into message conversations. Sharing pictures into a thread will group them together in a gallery view, for instance, and links that are shared in chats will show up in apps such as News and Music.
There are also new outfits for Memoji.
In addition to those changes, Apple will make updates to the way notifications work. It said they were intended to ensure that users could better focus on what is going on, and ignore the notifications they don’t need.
There will be a new notifications “summary”, for instance, which will take some notifications and wrap them all up so that they can be more easily checked and understood.
The do not disturb feature will also now alert other people that it is turned on. When messaging someone with that setting enabled, you will be told that person is “focusing”, and can therefore ignore them.
But Apple will also add a new “focus” feature, intended to be less extreme than the do not disturb feature. Users can tell the phone they are at “home”, or “work”, and only get notifications from the people and apps that are relevant.
Apple’s built-in machine learning will help with those features. It will suggest which apps should be grouped in a given “focus”, and will watch for when a certain one should be turned on – suggesting the “work” focus when you arrive at work, for instance.
Apple has also brought a broad range of new updates to the Photos app. That includes new tools that can recognise text or particular objects in a photo, new smart ways of creating “memories” from pictures.
There is a new version of the Weather app, which includes a new design that changes for particular conditions, such as windy days or bad air quality, and has new animations in its background. It also has detailed weather maps, some of which appear to have been the result of its recent purchase of the well-regarded Dark Sky app.
The Maps app is also dramatically redesigned, with a new version of the map itself that allows for a special moonlit night view. The transport options are also improved, with new features added to the map to give better detail as someone is driving.
The Wallet app will also get updates, which will allow it to be more easily used for a wide variety of cards and keys, including the ability to unlock everything from hotel rooms to cars with just a tap of the phone. Apple is also bringing identity cards to the app, letting users scan their driving licence and have it saved within the Wallet app.
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