iOS and iPadOS 15 will feature major changes to notifications, home screen

A blue iPhone 12 lying flat on a table
Enlarge / The iPhone 12.
Samuel Axon

Yet another report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has emerged with details of Apple’s future product plans. Citing “people with knowledge of the matter,” the article broadly describes some of the key upcoming features in iOS 15 for iPhones and iPadOS 15 for iPads.

Apple is likely to reveal iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 at its annual developer conference, WWDC, which kicks off on June 7 in an online-only format this year. Typically, Apple then releases these updates in September or thereabouts—timed closely with the annual release of new flagship iPhones. Something close to that same timeline is likely again this year.

Bloomberg’s sources say the upcoming OS updates will allow users to set different notification rules based on their status—”status,” in this case, means some predefined buckets like working, sleeping, or driving, as well as custom statuses that users can define themselves.

A new menu will be available on the lock screen or Control Center, or optionally on both. This menu will allow users to set automatic message replies based on current status and configure whether notifications make a sound in that status, among other things.

Apple also plans to significantly overhaul iMessage to make it “more of a social network” to compete with Facebook’s WhatsApp, though the sources clarify that change could come later than the initial release of iOS 15 and iPadOS 15. The report does not go into any detail about what iMessage changes would entail.

There will also be additional privacy features, including a screen that shows users “which apps are silently collecting data.” And there will be an updated lock screen, though specifics on that are scarce.

These changes will reach both the iPhone and the iPad, the report says, but it also says that Apple will give the iPad “the most significant update to the device’s home screen since first launching the product in 2010.”

However, the iPad home screen updates sound like they will mostly be a matter of bringing the home screen changes that iPhones already got in iOS 14 to iPads in iPadOS 15. Apple will introduce the ability to add widgets anywhere on the iPad’s home screen, just like on iPhones running iOS 14, and the report specifies that users will be able to “replace the entire app grid with only widgets” if they want.

The report focuses entirely on iOS and iPadOS, but it does offer a side note that this year’s macOS update will be “more minor.” macOS is expected to receive its annual update around the same time as iOS and iPadOS, along with watchOS and tvOS.