Self-Care Tips

Apple’s Latest Update Helps You Avoid That Guilty Feeling When You Ignore Text Messages—And 3 More Ways It’ll Boost Your Well-Being

Francesca Krempa

Photo: Apple / W+G Creative
On Monday, Apple announced the latest version of its operating system, which is slated to arrive sometime this fall. While past changes have given us fancy widgets and sleek photo enhancement tools, the new Apple iOS 15 update features tools meant to improve user focus and well-being.

"For many customers, iPhone has become indispensable, and this year we’ve created even more ways it can enhance our daily lives,” said senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi in a press release. “iOS 15 helps users stay connected while sharing experiences in real time, gives them new tools to help reduce distraction and find focus, uses intelligence to enhance the photos experience, and, with huge upgrades to Maps, brings new ways to explore the world. We can’t wait for customers to experience it."

After a year of "doomscrolling," iOS 15 offers a number of features that help users "focus and be in the moment." One such feature from the new Apple update, aptly called "Focus," is meant to reduce distraction, expand attention, and ultimately carve out a little "me time" in your day.

"Focus is a new feature that filters notifications and apps based on what a user wants to focus on," said Federighi. "Customers can set their device to help them be in the moment by creating a custom Focus or selecting a suggested Focus, which uses on-device intelligence to suggest which people and apps are allowed to notify them."

Need some help resisting the urge to open Instagram? Focus is the app for that. This sleek new feature will allow you to set hours where attention is essential, like during work or when you're winding down to fall to sleep. Once your Focus time is set on one device, it automatically syncs with your other Apple products to keep you centered.

And if you're feeling guilty for leaving a good friend "on read," Focus can take the blame: "When a user’s Focus is blocking incoming notifications, their status is automatically displayed to others in Messages, reflecting that a user is not currently reachable." It's like Airplane Mode for your brain.

To learn more about Focus's other cool new features, check out the full release here. Below, read about three more features you'll be ready to download with the latest update.

3 features from Apple's iOS 15 update to improve your well-being

A more natural FaceTime experience

While in-person hangouts are back in action, FaceTime is still a necessity for keeping up with long-distance friends and loved ones. Enter Apple's new FaceTime updates, which make FaceTime calls more natural and, hopefully, less glitchy.

"With spatial audio, voices in a FaceTime call sound as if they are coming from where the person is positioned on the screen, and new microphone modes separate the user’s voice from background noise," reads the press release from Apple.  Users can also expect better video quality overall, as Portrait mode is now available for FaceTime, as well as a new group feature that's perfect for hosting group happy hours (if you're not tired of those yet).

The best new FaceTime feature is that Android users can FaceTime, too. The iOS 15 update makes it easy for Android and Windows users to FaceTime directly from a web browser.

A handful of accessibility-related updates that prioritize inclusivity

iOS 15 also comes with a smattering of inclusive updates in support of accessibility and neurodiversity, allowing for a more personalized experience.

The update will unveil new VoiceOver features for those who are blind or visually impaired. While some visual aid tools already exist on smartphones, iOS 15 will allow users to explore images more closely and hear fine details about people, places, and objects in images. Additionally, "sound Actions customizes Switch Control to work with mouth sounds, and users can now customize display and text size on an app-by-app basis," according to Apple.

iOS 15 will also feature a library of new background noises to help those with learning disabilities minimize distractions and focus better. For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, "Apple is also bringing support for recognizing imported audiograms — charts that show the results of a hearing test — to Headphone Accommodations," says Apple. The new software will now also support bidirectional hearing aids.

'On-device intelligence' levels up everything, from photo sharing to browsing

Quite possibly iOS 15's most technologically advanced update is its "on-device intelligence" that fuels live text look-up, better Spotlight searching, and more.

One feature uses technology called the Apple Neural Engine that allows the camera app to automatically recognize and copy text in photos, like Grandma's homemade apple pie recipe, or your friend's ridiculously long WiFi password. Just snap a photo of the text and iPhone gets to work, storing that information directly in your library.

Also on the photo front, "Spotlight now uses intelligence to search photos by location, people, scenes, or objects," the release says. "Spotlight now offers web image search and all-new rich results for actors, musicians, TV shows, and movies. Enhanced results for contacts show recent conversations, shared photos, and even their location if shared through Find My."

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