According to people familiar with the situation, Apple Inc. is preparing a major update to its iOS 15 mobile software that will include an upgrade to how users handle notifications, a redesigned iPad Home Screen, an updated Lock Screen, and additional privacy protections for its flagship devices.
The upcoming major software updates for the iPhone and iPad, iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, are expected to include the in-development changes. The software updates, codenamed Sky, will be announced at the Cupertino, California-based tech giant’s upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference, which begins June 7, according to the people. They requested anonymity when discussing internal matters.
Apple releases major software updates for all of its key devices once a year to keep users glued to the Apple ecosystem, sell more devices, and encourage developers to create new apps. Apple usually releases the updates in September, just before the release of new iPhones. Given that WWDC is still a few weeks away, Apple may choose to change or postpone features until a later release. A spokesperson for Apple declined to comment.
The company is working on a new feature that will allow users to customize their notification preferences based on their current status, such as whether or not the phone makes a sound. The improvement will take the form of a new menu that allows users to choose whether they are driving, working, sleeping, or in one of their own custom categories. The menu will appear on the updated Lock Screen as well as in Control Center, the iPhone, and iPad’s settings menu.
There will also be the option to set up automatic message replies based on their status. This will be a step forward from the current auto-reply feature, which is only available while driving. Apple has already added some unique notification features like Do Not Disturb and Sleep Mode, but this will be the first time the company offers a systemwide feature for changing notifications based on a user’s status.
Upgrades to iMessage are also in the works, with the goal of making it more of a social network and better competing with Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp. Those changes are still in the works and could happen later, according to the sources.
Software updates will be made to the iPad line, which received new iPad Pro models earlier this week. Since the device’s launch in 2010, the company has been planning the most significant update to the device’s Home Screen. Apple plans to let users place widgets — miniature apps that can display the weather, upcoming appointments, stock tickers, and other data — anywhere on the Home Screen, similar to a feature introduced last year for the iPhone. Users will also be able to use only widgets to replace the entire app grid.
More privacy safeguards are also on the way. A new menu is being developed that will show users which apps are collecting data about them invisibly. Thousands of apps have been identified that use special trackers that can collect and share data such as phone numbers and location. While Apple has improved the privacy of its devices in recent years, thousands of apps have been identified that use special trackers that can collect and share data such as phone numbers and location. The new feature is intended to reduce this.