With WWDC officially in the rearview mirror, it's obvious that iOS 15 is more about polishing up last year's features than it is boldly treading new paths. That shouldn't be too much of a surprise for anyone paying attention to Apple's software — the company usually follows a tick-tock release for hardware and software alike. iOS 15 brings along some nice enhancements, especially for anyone deep inside the Apple ecosystem, but there's always room for improvement. As someone who cycles back and forth between Android and iOS, there's plenty of things I wish had changed in this year's version.
Google often seems to prefer iOS over Android, with its iOS apps getting the latest features before their counterparts on Android. But in the case of the latest Google Photos update on iPhones, things are reversed. iOS users are only now getting the new photo and video editing interface that's been available on Android since April.
One of Apple's biggest strengths has always been the long-term software support offered for its family of devices. Case in point: the iPhone 6s that was released back all the way back in 2015 will still get the latest version of iOS later this year. But more than just bringing so many users access to the latest software, Apple's decided to start offering a meaningful choice, and all devices receiving iOS 15 will soon have the option to stay on iOS 14 without skipping important security patches.
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Last weekend, I made my way over to the Westfield Century City Mall for a fresh pair of glasses — and an iPhone. I walked over to the Apple Store, talked to the very nice gentleman at the door... and was turned away because I didn't have an appointment to spend nearly $800. I was told I could come spend a whole lot of money, but that I'd have to wait four hours to do so. Then, I did what I should have before I set foot out the door that morning, and opened Chrome to the Apple website on my Galaxy S21 Ultra, bought the iPhone, and set it for pickup at store I'd just turned tail from — for just an hour from the current time.
I admit it: I was a mobile payment naysayer for years. I always felt that the conversation around tap to pay was a lot of rigamarole — after all, how hard is it to get out your wallet? But, as credit card terminals slowly evolved around the US, so too did my troglodytian attitude about them. I had my phone out when I was in line to check out regardless most of the time, so why not? And then, the whole last year... happened. Mobile payments went from a passive preference to a very active one for me, and many more businesses here in the States that had lagged behind adoption finally ponied up for contactless.
Apple finally unveiled its long-awaited competitor to the Tile tracker at its big event yesterday, and the AirTags seem like an instant win. For just $29 you can make sure you never lose your keys again, and if you have more money than sense, there are also some ludicrously expensive Hermès strap options. While you might think they only work with iPhones, that's actually not entirely the case.
Google has just announced four "new" features for the Google Assistant, including some new Routine functionality, the ability to pay for takeout orders via a little Duplex magic, and a feature for lost iPhones. As usual, some of these are new-new, others are things Google's been silently testing for a while and which many of our readers may have already been using for some time.
The very first time I ever used Android, it was loaded up as a live bootable partition on a MicroSD card shoved into my HTC Fuze. I'm sure the Windows Mobile installation on the phone's internal storage felt very jealous, because the rest is history. Samsung is hoping for something similar with its latest project: an interactive, web-based demonstration of Android made specifically for iPhone users.
Lots of Google products begin life as a public beta. In some cases, that can last years, and it's a major milestone when they leave that branding behind. Today Google Fi's VPN graduates out of beta status. Not only does that mean it's getting a new spot in a redesigned "privacy & security" section of the Google Fi app, it also means it's coming to iPhones.