Apple Ships iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and watchOS 8

Posted on September 20, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Apple Watch, iOS, iPadOS with 34 Comments

As promised, several of Apple’s most important software platforms are getting major updates today after three months of testing: iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and watchOS 8 are all available now as free updates to compatible devices.

“iOS 15 introduces new ways to stay connected, powerful updates that help users focus and explore, and intelligent features to get more done with iPhone,” Apple says of its new OS version for iPhone. “FaceTime updates provide more natural video calls, Focus helps users reduce distraction, new features like Live Text use on-device intelligence to surface useful information, upgrades to Maps provide brand new ways to navigate the world, and much more.” You can learn more here.

iPadOS 15, meanwhile, is an even smaller update, with an improved multitasking experience, new widget layouts for the Home Screen that match what happened first in iOS 14, App Library (another iOS 14 debut feature), FaceTime updates, and more. You can learn more here.

And watchOS 8 adds new workout types, cycling updates, a new Mindfulness app, new Wallet features, a redesigned Photos app, new watch faces, and new Messages tools. You can learn more here.

I assume new versions of tvOS and macOS are shipping soon as well.

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Comments (34)

34 responses to “Apple Ships iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and watchOS 8”

  1. navarac

    3 months of testing? Really? That much testing? LOL

  2. peterc

    iPadOS 15 Safari bookmarks bar is hopeless. 3 clicks to get to my bookmarks, and then 3 clicks to hide them…. compared to 14.8 this is rubbish. I use safari bookmarks all day long and now the whole workflow is utterly trashed. Loads of people complaining. I’ve downloaded a signed iPadOS 14.8 firmware file but so far cannot install/roll back.


    Anyone here with experience of resetting and flashing iOS firmware any good pointers or links to sites who detail this process properly would be most welcome

    • igor engelen

      Never really paid attention to it until you mentioned this. I get the 3 'clicks' to get to the bookmarks but not sure what you mean with 3 to hide them again. It's just another browser tab that you can close with x on it.


      No experience with going back to an older version.

      • peterc

        Hi Igor, so the problem is that you require 3 clicks to get to your bookmarks, more if you have sub folders etc, you open a bookmark and the "favourites bar" stays open, eating up screen space (in landscape mode). To remove the bar you have to reverse your clicks back. Nuts.


        In 14.8 you simply hit the bookmarks/favourites button on browser which opened the bar, clicked a link and it closed by itself etc. This is not the case with ipados 15, although it is what happens if you hold the ipad in portrait mode? crazy.


        I use safari on the ipad pro in landscape mode next to my desktop and use it all day for workflow use of specific sites whilst working on desktop data projects. it was (past tense) very effective.


        With a 12.9" ipad pro you could probably get away with losing screen space and leaving the favourites bar permanently open, but not on the 11" version.


        My solution... switch browser - using MS Edge with collections can replace it with some adjustment.


  3. nbplopes

    The entire widgets UI / spring board crashed on me 3 times last night on the iPad Pro 2020 12.9 … In 11 years never experienced such a thing in iOS.

  4. hbko

    This is a great release! I am especially happy with the springboard improvements to iPadOS, widgets and libraries. Focus modes are really cool too and they sync between all my devices which is awesome 🤩.

    Of course, the biggest updates come from 3rd party apps, and the App Store is already buzzing with app updates adopting iOS15 features (it's hard to believe it's been 3 months since WWDC).

  5. Chris_Kez

    Lots of small updates but I think it all adds up for me. iPad multi-tasking is significantly improved. The address bar at the bottom of Safari makes it easier to navigate. Live Text is a great addition to the OS. The Macstories 20+ page review highlighted probably a dozen more things I’m looking forward to beyond the highlight features everyone has covered.

  6. crunchyfrog

    I predict iOS 15.01 will follow immediately. 15.3 within a week, may be two.

  7. christophercollins

    Don’t update to this.


    They rushed it out for the new phones. We will probably see .1 increment by Friday and another the next week.


    They do this every year.


    I am in the MacOS beta. Windows 11 is far more bug free than this.

  8. RobertJasiek

    The advertised changes are boring. The important silent change enables Apple's spyware.

    • red.radar

      I don’t fully agree.


      more control over notifications is always welcome.


      however if your expecting technology to deliver the “windows. 95 / iPhone “ waterfall moment I would say those days are gone. This stuff is commoditized and mass marketed. Changes will be slow but deliberate.


      There is still good things to come from refinement. I think the “next big thing / one more thing “ moments are beyond us. But I am ok with this. When that moment comes back around it will be amazing

      • cnc123

        In the sense that's it's not a silent change?

        • waethorn

          CSAM scanning wasn’t enabled.


          Every other Big Tech company has already enabled CSAM scanning in their cloud storage. Microsoft started this technology all the way back in 2009 with PhotoDNA. Google enabled it in YouTube 6 years ago and started “AI” scanning across all of their services 3 years ago, including their mobile apps that connect to them.

          • RobertJasiek

            There are two fundamentally different ways of surveillance:


            1. On the company's cloud.
            2. On the enduser's device.


            As you say, some other big companies apply surveillance on their cloud servers. Presumably, they inform potential cloud users about that in usage terms and agreements. Companies have, to some extent, a right to restrict abuse of their clouds for criminal activities. Laws are hard to interpret inhowfar companies may do surveillance of contents. Potential users can choose to avoid such companies' clouds or, in theory, let courts determine the companies' rights more clearly.


            Apple is about to start surveillance on the (first only somehow USA-bound) endusers' devices. This is fundamentally different because these devices are the endusers' own property and their human rights, basic rights and rights granted by ordinary laws are directly affected and violated.


            Human rights depend on interpretation and were not written for the digital age. Basic constitutional rights and rights granted by ordinary laws differ per country. I cannot predict how US courts will interpret the US constitution and US laws for US citizens and non-US persons. I do know that German basic constitutional rights and rights granted by ordinary laws protect the endusers that are Germans or in Germany from surveillance by companies on the endusers' own devices: such surveillance by companies is a serious crime and does violate German basic constitutional rights of human beings. The German laws are explicit and the German federal constitutional court has made two judgements clarifying the basic rights of dignity and freedom for the digital age as right to informational self-determination and right to confidentiality and integrity of information-technical systems, such as computers or communication infrastructure.


            • waethorn

              Apple said they would only be scanning photos on the devices if they are queued for upload to iCloud. If you turned off iCloud uploading, they wouldn't be scanned. The reason why they do this on the device is because of two reasons: 1) they don't have their own server infrastructure, and 2) the device AI processing is now good enough to do it without relying on cloud services.


              Also, read a EULA sometime. Software is not your property. That's something Microsoft came up with in the 80's.


              If you don't like their terms, be an adult and try to switch to something else. Or don't look at pics of little kids.

              • RobertJasiek

                "Apple said they would only be scanning photos on the devices if they are queued for upload to iCloud."


                Apple might lie, change its mind, be careless with the definition of what is queued for upload to iCloud or program bugs.


                "If you turned off iCloud uploading, they wouldn't be scanned."


                As before. Furthermore, Apple has issued i(Pad)OS updates that change some user settings without prior consent. This can happen to this setting.


                "1) they don't have their own server infrastructure"


                Sure, sure, the richest company in the world does not have its own server infrastructure and cannot pay for one... Rather the reason is that Apple wants to save very much money by letting the endusers' devices be Apple's virtual server infrastructure. Another reason is that extra hardware use of the endusers' devices results in demand for more expensive devices (so that they won't be too slow) and more frequently bought devices (because such results in faster aging of the hardware).


                "the device AI processing is now good enough to do it without relying on cloud services."


                AI is never good enough. AI makes mistakes. Besides, the sampling on which AI relies can be prejudiced easily.


                "read a EULA sometime"


                I did read some i(Pad)OS EULAs and did find, among other things, violations of laws. EULAs are not laws but laws override them. IIRC, in Germany EULAs only found on using the devices themselves are void. This may be different for an EULA of using a cloud because one is not forced to use a cloud and has a chance to read its EULA before possibly using a particular cloud.


                "Software is not your property."


                Typically so. However, this does not mean that an operating system or cloud software might a) abuse one's hardware property as if it were the software owner's property or b) violate any of the enduser's rights.


                "If you don't like their terms, be an adult and try to switch to something else."


                1) This is one possible consequence. Another is to invoke the courts.


                2) I do not upgrade to iPadOS 15 for this reason.


                3) I do not buy new Apple devices for this reason.


                4) I delayed my first iPad purchase for ca. 5 years while I could not find a suitable Windows tablet mainly because iOS file management was even much more terrible than today. Every day while using my iPad for almost 6 years, I have tried to replace it with a suitable Windows tablet but there still is none (ca. 4:3 with significantly reduced reflectance, silent, acceptable battery life). Now, for the reason in discussion, I try to switch even much more eagerly than before but no suitable Windows tablet is in sight. Therefore, currently I must continue using the iPad with iPadOS 14.8.


                5) As long as USA protects endusers' privacy less than Germany, I will never use clouds of US companies or their (even if German) joint ventures. Apple's new surveillance policy affirms my choice for Apple clouds (in Germany or wherever) the most firmly.


                "Or don't look at pics of little kids."


                Children are just the PR tag for introducing surveillance. As they say, an alternative tag might have been fight against terrorism. All this is hardly about what is checked but it is about depriving human beings (us endconsumers) from rights. It does not matter what Apple's intention (to protect rights of children) is but what this amounts to is depriving us (the iDevice users representing a large part of mankind) from rights.

      • RobertJasiek

        Apple announced that the picture surveillance would become part of i(Pad)OS 15. Later, Apple announced that it would start using the picture surveillance only later this year. Therefore, i(Pad)OS 15 enables Apple to start using the picture surveillance and Apple plans to start using it later this year.


        Apple plans to start using it first only for the USA, where it is ambiguous whether that means only US citizens, only interaction with cloud servers in the USA, how iDevices and endusers are distinguished etc. Furthermore, it is unclear when Apple expands usage to other countries or their citizens and how endusers can know at all and in time in advance that they will also be affected.


        The phrase "fake news" is designed to confuse people. "Wrong information", "desinformation" or "lie" would be appropriate words. Is the information that the picture surveillance tool becomes part of i(Pad)OS 15 right or is it wrong because Apple has changed its mind? Is the information that Apple starts using the picture surveillance tool later this year right or is it wrong because Apple has changed its mind?


        From all what I have read, Apple only wants to discuss the topic again but definitely plans to start using the picture surveillance tool later this year despite the broad criticism world-wide.


        Apple's delay has an obvious purpose: it enables people like you to claim that i(Pad)OS 15, as of today, did not enable the picture surveillance tool and have a semantic discussion on what exactly "enable" means. Here it means "becomes part of i(Pad)OS 15 so as to enable start using the picture surveillance tool later this year", when most of the media and tech journalists will already have fallen asleep and forgotten the change.


        • bettyblue

          Apple hate much?


          #tinfoilhat

          • RobertJasiek

            Hatred is the wrong word - strong disliking of quite a few aspects is a better description. Apple contributes both things that can be liked and behaviours that can be disliked. I like it that Apple also offers 4:3 displays, at least reduces reflectance on some devices, emphasises silence of some devices, sometimes provides good battery life, offers good wireless connectivity and contributes to competition in the hardware market. I dislike Apple's attack on rights, the notches and camera bumps, weak file management, Walled Garden, anti-repair strategy and excessive price increments.

  9. pauldain

    tvOS 15 and HomePod Software 15 appear to be out as well.

    • igor engelen

      Didn't check for new tvOS features yet but the thing that immediately caught my attention was better support for AirPods. Can easily switch between the different modes now and enable/disable spatial.

  10. ringofvoid

    So many updates are for apps I just don't use: Safari, Memoji, Apple Photos, Apple Maps, & Apple Mail. This update has me even more seriously thinking of jumping ship to Android.

  11. fishnet37222

    Apple needs to return the functionality of swiping down on a notification when it first appears in order to dismiss it permanently.

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