Over the past few years, it’s become more apparent that Apple’s big WWDC reveal of new iOS and macOS releases are more about providing an overall roadmap of what the company has in store for the entire major release cycle, rather than a list of features that are going to land when the first version arrives in September.
We saw the first hint of this in iOS 10, which didn’t release the promised Portrait mode for the shiny new dual-lens iPhone 7 Plus until iOS 10.1 arrived a few weeks later. This strategy was in full swing by the time the iOS 11 cycle began, with a whole slew of features that were revealed at WWDC 2017 — such as Messages in iCloud and AirPlay 2 — that didn’t actually show up until iOS 11.4 arrived well into the following spring.
Since then, it’s been pretty safe to assume that when Apple shows off a new iOS feature at WWDC that doesn’t mean it’s coming right away, and a careful reading of Apple’s iOS 15 Preview Page shows that this year is no exception. Continue reading to browse 5+ features that Apple doesn’t expect to have ready for iOS 15.0 in September.
For the past few years, Apple has clearly been on a mission to replace our physical wallets. Features like Apple Pay already mean you can leave your credit cards and loyalty cards behind, and the Wallet app can also already handle boarding passes, venue tickets, and even student ID cards.
Last year, Apple took that to another level with Car Key, and iOS 15 promises to expand that into just about every other kind of key you might need, from your home to the office to the hotels where you stay.
This promises to be a pretty massive expansion, but it looks like at least the home key part of it won’t necessarily be arriving in iOS 15.0, with Apple noting that it’s “coming in a software update later this year.”
Of course, that’s probably not a big problem, since if past experiences with Apple-compatible home accessories are any indication, we likely won’t see the first locks supporting home keys arriving nearly that soon anyway.
Similarly, Apple is enhancing its Car Key feature with UWB support and remote hock and lock/unlock features, but that’s also going to need cards that are actually equipped to work with the new technology. So far, Apple hasn’t said anything about which vehicles will support this, although we can probably count on BMW being first in line again.
That said, hotel keys could be ready to go sooner. During the WWDC keynote, Apple mentioned that Hyatt is already in the process of rolling out compatible locks to over 1,000 of its hotel properties worldwide, and it’s supposed to be available at least some as soon as this fall.
It’s also worth noting that for whatever reason, these keys will all require an iPhone XS or later. It’s unclear why that is, although we’re hoping it at least also includes the iPhone XR. For office and hotel keys, Apple also adds that “device requirements may vary by hotel and workplace.”
Apple already hinted on stage that some of iOS 15’s CarPlay enhancements are going to take a bit longer when it shared its new detailed city experiences in Apple Maps. While these incredible new landscapes should be available when iOS 15 ships — at least in a few key cities — Meg Frost, Apple’s Director of Product Design for Apple Maps, said they wouldn’t be coming to CarPlay until later this year.
This is confirmed on Apple’s iOS 15 Preview Page, which says it will be part of a later iOS update, but it seems we’ll also be waiting a bit before another cool new CarPlay feature makes its debut.
Sometime in iOS 15, CarPlay users will be gaining Announce Messages in CarPlay, a feature that sounds very similar to Announce Messages with Siri which launched two years ago — but notably not until iOS 13.2.
What this means is that Siri will be able to announce incoming messages automatically while you’re driving, saving you from having to notice the banner and tap on the screen when a new message comes in. You’ll be able to turn this on or off in settings, of course, but Apple says you’ll also be able to toggle it off when a message is being read, and Siri will remember your preference — which is obviously very handy for privacy reasons when you’re travelling with someone else in the car.
Digital IDs in Wallet
The second big piece of the wallet-replacement puzzle that Apple is working on is replacing the need to carry physical ID cards, however that’s understandably going to be a tougher nut to crack from a regulatory point of view.
So it’s not all that surprising that digital IDs are listed as being “available late 2021.” Apple has said it’s working with several U.S. state governments to enable this feature, but there are still likely a few technical and security hurdles to overcome before it’s fully ready to go live.
Similarly, the TSA is also expected to allow the use of Apple Wallet stored digital IDs directly at security checkpoints, but this will almost certainly require upgrades to the TSA’s systems, and it may be a while before it’s rolled out to every U.S. airport.
It’s safe to say that the new “ID in Wallet” feature will be a fairly gradual rollout, likely facing an even slower adoption than Apple Pay did when it first launched in the U.S. six years ago. However, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and we’re encouraged that Apple is taking that first step into a fully digital world.
App Privacy Report
One of Apple’s biggest privacy features for 2021 is a new “App Privacy Report” that will provide some actual insights into what an app may be doing on your iPhone or iPad.
This is a considerable step beyond the App Privacy Labels that Apple introduced to the App Store last year. Those relied entirely on self-reporting by developers to indicate what data is collected, and while they’re still useful to help you decide whether you want to download an app in the first place, iOS 15 will show you what the app is actually doing once it’s on your device.
This will include things like seeing how often an app has accessed your location, camera, or microphone, as well as sensitive data like photos and contacts. It will also provide tracking similar to what’s already available in Safari’s new Privacy Reports to show what other domains your apps are contacting, helping you to identify how many trackers are working away behind your back.
This one definitely looks like it’s going to be an iOS 15.1 or iOS 15.2 addition, as Apple notes that it’s “Coming in a software update to iOS 15.”
Hide My Email
It’s not really an iOS 15 feature by itself, but it does seem that the new iCloud+ Hide My Email service is also “coming in a software update later this year.”
This will allow iCloud Mail users to generate unique, random email addresses that forward into their personal inbox to protect their privacy and anonymity.
While there will undoubtedly be an iOS 15 component to this, since it’s not very useful unless you can easily generate these email addresses on-the-fly, this update probably requires upgrades to be made on the iCloud backend as well.
It’s interesting, however, that the new iCloud+ custom domains don’t have a similar footnote beside them, so this may involve more work on the iCloud side, or perhaps it is just a matter of waiting to release it until the user-facing parts of it are ready to go in iOS 15.