Thursday, October 21, 2021

Apple’s iOS 15 update has arrived and these two new features are the real deal

We’ve all been overwhelmed by the insane volume of and quality of iOS software updates over the past couple of years. It feels like every half-decent app gets an update to a new version of iOS at some point – and even then, a lot of them don’t show up. But just as we enter the less-active part of the app generation cycle, I’m guessing Apple is getting ready to unleash their next batch of goodies. The public beta for iOS 15 came and went today, and it looks like two big improvements that we’ve been waiting for are coming: Apple’s new Health app and a new developer API for the Photos app.

Apple launches iOS 15 for iPhone and iPad with big new features Read more

The new Health app was heavily previewed at WWDC last year, and Apple has been slowly releasing it into the wild in a beta release over the past few months. Now, Apple appears to be at the point where they feel the beta release is good enough to start testing on a broader audience. And I’m eager to see exactly what’s in it for me.

The Health app will ship with iOS 15, and lets you keep track of everything from your diet to your fitness. The entire thing is logged into what Apple claims is “a new Health app”, and will integrate with Apple HealthKit and other cloud services like 12 Health apps, iOS support for glucose monitoring apps, and smart speaker integration from both the Amazon Echo and Google Home. The log will show you everything from hydration levels to sleep deprivation to what your iPhone’s sensors are saying about your heart rate.

It’s a big deal because it’s going to change how we interact with our tech – you’ll be able to view your fitness stats right on your Apple TV and control them via Siri. You’ll be able to use a similar feature to view performance data from your MacBook with the Health app. It’s not clear yet if Apple will be giving app makers the ability to sync that data with their own apps, but it seems likely that some early adopters will.

The second new API is a huge deal, because that means you can now make photos you shoot work just like apps and websites do on iOS: start with a photo you want to save, then add smart photo filters to adjust exposure, speed, blur, and more, then edit it with editing tools, then send the results to your app of choice. It’s the simplest way to turn your snaps into something that doesn’t exist anywhere else on your iPhone.

This will also change how developers make iOS apps by encouraging them to integrate these automatic photo-editing tools directly into their creations. The most obvious beneficiaries are the camera apps in your camera roll, but also those third-party photo apps you already have. So it seems likely that this will be the sleeper hit of iOS 15: eventually, apps on iOS will have to learn to do what the Health app does already if they want to stay with the platform.

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