Apple is known for showing off the larger features inside of iOS releases and leaving out the finer details that are often sometimes the best features. These hidden features have become a mainstay on the Mac and iOS, and we’re here today to let you in on some of the secret hidden features in iOS 15 that everyone should know about.
Many of these iOS 15 features may be small, but added together can completely change your workflow and leave you wondering how you ever lived without them in the first place.
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How to tell Siri to share what’s on your screen
In most applications, like Safari, Photos and more, you can simply activate Siri and say “Send this to someone,” where “someone” is a contact. Siri will gladly respond by creating a new iMessage to the contact in question and attaching a URL or photo to the recipient.
This goes a long way in allowing for more hands-free actions when using your devices. If Siri is unable to get a URL or content to share with the recipient, the virtual assistant will gladly still comply by taking a screenshot to send instead. This is a great workaround for apps that don’t have the ability to easily share content or haven’t adopted this new sharing paradigm in iOS 15.
How to get precipitation alerts in Weather
Weather in iOS 15 has been completely re-written from the ground up using Apple’s SwiftUI technology, and it makes use of some of the Dark Sky technology that Apple acquired a few years back. All of this adds up to one of the best built-in weather experiences Apple or any other OS manufacturer has ever included baked into the operating system.
One of the hidden features in Weather is the ability to get precipitation notifications when it’s about to rain or snow. To get these notifications, perform these steps:
- Open the Weather app.
- Select the List icon (in the bottom right).
- Select the More button (dotted icon in the top right).
- Tap Notifications and then Continue (and Allow on the notification prompt).
- Select My Location to get notifications about precipitation for your current location, or select the toggles for any other saved locations in the weather app for your device (Figure A).
How to translate any text in iOS 15
One of the big new features in iOS 14 was the ability to translate text more easily and efficiently using the Apple Translate app. Apple has stepped up its translation game in iOS 15 by adding the ability to translate any text across the system by simply selecting the text.
We’ll use Safari for this example, but anywhere you can select text in iOS or iPadOS, if you can select the text, then you can translate it.
In Safari, tap and drag across text to select it, then tap the text. In the popover that appears, select the Translate button. Immediately a translate window will appear that translates it into another language, if that’s not the one you’re looking for, then you can select a different language to translate into (Figure B). Tap Copy Translation to copy the translation to your clipboard and share, or Open in Translate to open that text in the Translate app to edit the text or perform additional translations.
How to scan anything into text
Just like translations, scanning is built in across the system. You can use it in almost any input field across iOS to scan a document and use the text as input. To do this, tap into a text field in iOS or iPadOS 15, then tap again to show the text editing popover. In this popover, select Scan Text.
Once you select the Scan Text option, a camera view will open allowing you to position the camera over top of a document to scan the text. Tap the text in the document that you wish to insert to have the camera focus on that section, then tap Insert to finalize the insertion of the text into the text field in iOS (Figure C).
How to choose the text size per app
Users have long been able to choose the text size across iOS through an accessibility feature called Dynamic Type by going to Settings | Display & Brightness | Text Size; however, the text size can now be set on a per-app basis instead of setting it system-wide.
To do this, you’ll first need to enable the Control Center option by following these steps.
- Open the Settings app.
- Navigate to Control Center.
- Add the option for Text Size.
Now open the Control Center while in any app and tap the “aA” button to get a Text Size control panel. Use the slider to enlarge or shrink the text size, and set whether you want this setting for All Apps, or only the one you’re using (Figure D). The system will remember these settings on a per-app basis.
How to enable app recording functionality
Apple has in recent years been cracking down on activity by certain apps that would put user privacy or security at risk on its platforms. In iOS and iPadOS 15, there’s a new feature that lets you easily record all of the app activity to see which apps request system-level functionality like camera, microphone, internet access and more, and be able to download privacy reports to look at per-device.
To enable the app recording functionality, perform these steps.
- Open Settings.
- Navigate to Privacy | Record App Activity.
- Enable the toggle for Record App Activity (Figure E).
To export a report, return to this view and tap the button for Save App Activity. This report can be opened in an app or saved to the Files app for later viewing. The report details the activity from all apps on your iPhone or iPad over the previous seven days. This file isn’t for the faint of heart and isn’t very user friendly as it exports as a JSON formatted file that needs a custom viewer or a well-trained eye looking at the plain text to read it; however, it will log and detail important security and privacy information that can be used to ensure that you’re maintaining a system that’s secure.
How to move Safari’s address bar without leaving Safari
Safari made a drastic change to the user interface in iOS 15. As a result to pushback during the beta testing period, Apple has revamped the design, but it still allows users to decide if they wish to use the old look (with the address bar on top) or the new look (with address bar on the bottom).
You can make this change in Settings | Safari by selecting Tab Bar (bar on bottom) or Single Tab (bar on top). However, you can also make this change in Safari itself by opening the app and tapping on the “Aa” icon in the address bar, then selecting Show Top Address Bar or Show Bottom Address Bar to move it (Figure F).
How to drag and drop between apps in iOS 15
iPadOS has long had the ability to drag and drop files between apps, but now this functionality has made its way over to the iPhone with iOS 15. You can now drag and drop a file from one app into another by dragging an image, URL or other draggable data type from one app, navigate to the Home Screen or Multitasking Launcher, open another app, and drop the text, image, URL or other data type. This gesture works just as it does on iPadOS, but does require some talent as the screen on iPhones are much smaller and keeping a single finger dragging the item while the other hand or finger launches another app can be tricky.