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The Flux beamo is a $1,500 laser cutter with simple but powerful software – TechCrunch

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Laser cutters are in a fun place right now. Gone are the days when the cheapest machines were tens of thousands of dollars, and when the “compact” models were roughly the size of a freezer. They’ve gotten affordable enough, and small enough, that a DIY home hobbyist can add it to their toolset without taking out a second mortgage or needing much more than some desk space… but they’re still a rare enough machine that saying “I’ve got a laser cutter!” makes people look at you like you’re a friggin’ wizard.

One of the latest entries into this space is beamo, a compact, 30W laser cutter and engraver built by Flux — a Taiwan-based team you might remember for raising $1.6 million on Kickstarter with its Flux Delta 3D printer/scanner/engraver back in 2014.

As with Delta, Flux is turning to Kickstarter for the launch of beamo. They sprinted past their goal of $25,000 pretty quickly, currently sitting at roughly $350,000 raised with a little over a week to go. The early-bird models are going for $849, with the company pinning the final MSRP at $1,500. Shipping/taxes aren’t included in those prices, and can cost a couple hundred bucks, so factor that in to any purchasing decisions.

While I tend to be a bit hesitant when it comes to crowdfunded hardware (having been burned too many times by products that either never arrived or did arrive only to be total garbage), Flux has been down this road before; in addition to Delta, it also crowdfunded and shipped Beambox (a slightly bigger, pricier, but more powerful laser cutter) just a few months back. In the case of beamo, it seems like the Kickstarter is primarily meant to help get the word out, rather than literally “kickstarting” the process. Production is already underway, and units are already rolling off the line.

Flux sent me one of those early units to check out for a few weeks. I haven’t had it long enough to do what I’d call a “review”; with things like laser cutters with their myriad moving parts and… you know, lasers, new issues can pop up months after you open the box, as components wear and maintenance is required. So consider this more of a “first impressions” kind of thing.

My first impressions, though, are good.

For reference, I’d classify myself laser experience as… moderate. More than most people you’d randomly ask, I’d wager, but less than if it were my job. I’ve put a hundred hours or so into training/creating with those aforementioned freezer-sized pro lasers, making everything from custom etched pint glasses, to bespoke Christmas ornaments, to personalized rubber stamps over the years. I tend to look for excuses to shoot lasers at things.

Getting it running

My beamo unit came ready to go right out of the box, mirrors aligned, moving parts all lubed up. I plugged it in, set up some basic ventilation, ran through about 10 minutes of software installation and configuration and started firing away. It all just worked on the first shot.

Speaking of ventilation: you’ll need it. Laser cutting is basically a tiny, super controlled fire… and that means smoke. Depending on what you’re cutting, that smoke can be super noxious. Cutting wood? It won’t smell too bad, but it’s still not something you want in your lungs on the regular. Etching a logo into felt? It’ll smell like you’re burning a trash can full of hair. Beamo uses a 200CFM exhaust fan to pull smoky air out of the machine, dumping it out through a 4″ exhaust hose that you’ll need to run through a window (or, if you’re feeling extra fancy, a dryer exhaust-style vent through a wall.) Expect to need about 8″ of clearance between the machine and any wall behind it for the exhaust hose and its bends, unless the path to the window is a straight shot.

The exhaust system is decent, but you’ll probably need to fiddle with how the hose runs to get it just right. If you’re venting through a window, you’ll want to figure out a way of sealing up the open gaps around the hose to limit any fumes that might float back into the room. Put time into getting it right. If the room still smells smokey hours after you’ve cut, you’ll want to keep working on your ventilation. You don’t want to breath that stuff in, especially if you’re running the laser more than occasionally.

Beamo’s built-in touchscreen. You’ll mostly control it over Wi-Fi, but you can access some basic functionality and monitor job progress here.

If you’re new to laser cutting, you should also put the time into learning what you shouldn’t put in these machines. Some materials are safe to laser cut, but tend to catch on fire easily. Some materials will just melt and screw up your machine. Other things (PVC!) will straight up emit chlorine gas when you hit them with a laser. If you’re moving beyond the basics of cutting thin wood/acrylic/cardboard or engraving glass, research it.

So what SHOULD you cut? Woods are a good go-to (though you’ll want to limit it to less oily stuff — because, again, fire). Cardboard is fun to cut for things like spray paint stencils. Leather is good, with practice, and you can do all sorts of really neat stuff with acrylic. You can’t cut glass, but you can engrave it; same goes for rubber, though that’s one you’ll want to source from a place that sells materials known to be laser safe.

The thickness of the material you can cut tends to be limited by a laser’s wattage, while height/width is generally limited by the size of the work area. At 30W, beamo’s laser can slice its way through wood about 1/8″ thick; its work area, meanwhile, comes in at 11.81″ x 8.27″. You can make a lot of cool stuff within those bounds, but be aware of them — buying a bunch of material only to get it home and realize you’re a few watts short of a complete cut is a bummer. If you foresee needing deeper cuts or bigger pieces, beefier lasers exist without too massive a leap in price. As examples: Flux’s other laser cutter, the $2,500 Beambox, bumps the laser up to 40W and the work area up to 15.7″ x 14.7″; the $2,500 base model from competitor Glowforge comes in at 40W with a work area of roughly 11″ x 19.5″.

Fire the lasers!

Got everything plugged in, ventilation set up and your materials purchased? Time to cut! Well, almost.

You’ll mostly be controlling beamo through Beam Studio, a free piece of software provided by Flux for Windows, macOS and Ubuntu. As far as laser cutting software goes, I’m really quite pleased with it so far.

Beam Studio is super straightforward, but darn powerful for a free companion app. If you’re looking to cut out basic shapes, etch text or lay down some bezier curves, it can do it. Want to etch a picture of your dog into some wood to make a keychain? Just drop an image onto the work area, scale as desired, then move a slider to tweak the black/white threshold until it looks right. You can work in layers, setting up a raster layer to be etched and then a vector layer to cut it out immediately after.

Beamo has a built-in camera system, allowing you to quickly scan the work bed before dragging and dropping your designs wherever you want them. The first time you connect to beamo, you’ll be asked to calibrate the camera — a process that was considerably simpler than I expected. Put a piece of paper on the work bed, and beamo will fire a quick test pattern into it. Beam Studio will then snap a picture of what it just etched, projecting an overlay of where it thinks the test pattern is versus its scan. Nudge the overlay around until everything is perfectly stacked, and you’re set. You’ll want to re-run this alignment process every once in a while (it’s quick) if you need precise placement.

The camera system here really is incredibly useful. After about 30 minutes with beamo, I was doing things that are at best annoying on camera-less cutters — things like etching a design, cutting it out, then immediately flipping the cut piece and etching on the other side without worrying about precarious placement. I just rescanned the work bed, dragged the image where I wanted it on the freshly cut side B, and fired away.

The camera is quick, but not instant. Scanning the entire work area takes about 60 seconds. If you only need a certain area scanned (like, say, the top half of the work area, or the rough area around something you’ve already cut), fortunately, that’s an option. Just drag the scanning boundary box accordingly.

If you need to do something beyond what the free software can handle (or if you just prefer working in apps like CorelDraw or Illustrator), Beam Studio can import JPGs, PNGs and SVGs.

While more capable than I expected, the software isn’t without its quirks. Beam Studio will try to keep you updated with a progress ticker, but don’t rely on it too much for predicting timing. I’ve had projects shoot up to 40% in the first 30 seconds, only to take five minutes for the rest to complete. There was an occasion or two where the software threw out an error in Mandarin that I didn’t want to dismiss without a quick pass through Google Translate… but for the most part, it was solid, stable and fun to use.

In its base configuration, beamo’s laser is manually focused, meaning you’ll need to focus things by hand each time you place new material inside the machine. Fortunately, focusing it is super straightforward: put material in, rotate a piece of acrylic attached to the laser head, lower the laser head until the acrylic is just barely touching the material, then lock the laser head back in place and lift the acrylic out of the way.

Flux says that it’ll ship a $250 add-on module that introduces autofocus to the mix, but I didn’t get to test that. They’re also working on a $499 rotary add-on that will let you etch designs onto cylindrical items (think shot/pint glasses), but out of the box, it’s flat stuff only.

As with every single laser I’ve ever worked with, working with a new material — or even, sometimes, the same material from a different source — requires some fiddling. You’ll be tweaking the speed at which the laser moves, the power of the laser and how many passes it makes over the same path; you want to keep the power low enough to minimize scorching and maximize the life of the laser, while making sure you’ve done enough repeat passes to cut completely through. Beam Studio comes with a bunch of presets for different materials that can get you pretty close (and you can save your own favorites, once you’ve found them), but expect to experiment a little when you’re working with a new material for the first time. Buy extra material.

As for noise: operating with fans running full force, it’s not what I’d call “quiet,” but it’s not so loud that it’s uncomfortable to sit next to. The company’s specs pin it at around 65 db — louder than your average conversation, but a bit quieter than, say, a vacuum. The fans do whir endlessly when the machine is idling, so you’ll probably want to cut the power between cutting sessions.

If for some reason you need to open the lid while the laser is operating, beamo’s built-in automatic kill switch will cut power to the laser to protect your eyes. Close the lid again and the job can be resumed right from where you left off. While the company says that the acrylic lid provides sufficient eye protection for beamo’s 30W Class 1 laser (though they note that you shouldn’t stare right at the laser beam, lid or not), I absolutely recommend picking up and wearing a pair of CO2 laser safety goggles, especially when it comes time to pop the machine open and do any maintenance. Speaking of…

Foreseeable maintenance

Maintenance is an inevitable part of owning a laser cutter. As noted, I’ve only had the laser set up for a few weeks and everything came well configured, so I haven’t had to go digging under the hood yet. If something suddenly breaks on me during my time with the cutter, I’ll update this post accordingly. But either way, maintenance will be part of the process for owners.

Even if nothing breaks unexpectedly, some of the parts involved are “consumable” and thus expected to wear down with use. The lens, mirror and laser tube, for example, are expected to last about a year with regular use, according to the company’s estimates. The team says those parts should cost about $19, $9 and $139 to replace, respectively, and you’ll be able to buy them through their online store. Plan ahead for those recurring costs, and make sure you’re comfortable with the idea of eventually tearing the machine apart before you dive in.

You’ll also need to keep things clean to keep them operating well. Burning stuff dirties the optics, and dirty optics lead to weaker cuts and faster wear. You’ll want to pop the work bed out regularly to get rid of any debris, and keep all the moving bits lubed. There’s more to keeping a laser cutter working well than say, an inkjet printer.

Overall, though, so far so good. The machine looks pretty great on a table; it’s not quite as shiny and Apple-y as a Glowforge, but it should blend into a home office or studio pretty easily. It’s light enough to be easily moved by two people, and took me all of a few minutes to get up and running. If you don’t mind the occasional software hiccup, can figure out sufficient ventilation, are mostly working on projects that fit within beamo’s wattage/work area capabilities and are down to get under the hood for maintenance, beamo seems like a solid machine so far.



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Google’s foldable phone plans include two devices, Android 12.1 release

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Enlarge / These are the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 devices, but Google’s foldable hardware will reportedly follow in Samsung’s footsteps.

Samsung / Ron Amadeo

A Google Pixel Fold is pretty much inevitable. Samsung’s push on the hardware front is making foldables the next big Android form factor, and the Android Team has already started thinking about foldables by incorporating basic support in Android 10 for the first Galaxy Fold launch. Part of the point of Google phones is to give the Android Team in-house hardware to experiment with and build the next version of Android for. So if foldables are going to be the next big thing, Google’s going to need to make one.

That is pretty much what the rumor mill is pointing toward, with Google reportedly planning to combine the best of both worlds currently available on the market: Samsung-style foldable hardware with an iPad-OS-style dock interface for easier multitasking.

First up, the hardware: the Pixel 6 is a good framework to think about when pondering the upcoming Pixel foldables. Google’s upcoming slab smartphone is very Samsungy, with a new “Google Tensor” SoC co-developed with Samsung’s Exynos division and a Samsung modem with mmWave—the Galaxy S21 doesn’t even use a Samsung mmWave modem. There’s a 50MP Samsung GN1 as the new main camera sensor, and the 120 Hz display will undoubtedly be made by Samsung, too. The foldables will probably have a similar makeup: a metric ton of Samsung hardware DNA with Google software.

It sounds like that’s what we’re getting: Google versions of Samsung’s two big foldable styles, the Galaxy Z Fold and Galaxy Z Flip phones. Google’s Galaxy Fold device—a phone that opens up into a larger-screened tablet—has long been rumored with the codename “Passport.” We’ve seen reports say the device will open up to a 7.6-inch display (the same as the Fold 3), and there have been several “Passport” references spotted in the Android codebase.

Recently, there hasn’t been a ton of news about the Pixel Passport (not the final name), and there have never been live images or design leaks of the device, so we were starting to wonder if the device was still happening. And with the global chip shortage still causing all sorts of chaos, it would not be totally unexpected for Google to push some of its experimental devices to a later date. The latest news from legendary leaker Evan Blass claims the Passport is still coming out this year, though:

The other Google foldable news is from 9to5Google, which says a second foldable, codenamed “Jumbojack,” is coming. Alongside the Fold-style passport, which is a phone/tablet hybrid, this device would be like the Galaxy Flip, a regular-sized smartphone that folds in half like an old-school flip phone. 9to5Google says it found “multiple instances of Jumbojack being used as a tester device” for the various special folding modes of devices like the Galaxy Flip.

On the software side of things, XDA Developers reports the Android Team is apparently cooking up an out-of-cycle update to Android, which would focus on foldable functionality. We have no idea what this would be called, but the community has taken to calling it “Android 12.1,” since it would land in between Android 12 and Android 13. Part of the foldables software push would be an iPad OS-style taskbar interface, which would show frequently used and recently used apps. XDA’s Mishaal Rahman has already enabled the feature in Android 12 Preview 2, but the feature hasn’t improved since then, apparently because it’s being pushed to this mid-cycle release. As Rahman writes:

Google’s internal AOSP codebase contains several improvements to the currently barebones taskbar feature. Code changes that implement the taskbar’s tutorial describe some of its planned features. Firstly, entering the tutorial will show an animation described as a “wave” wherein icons scale and translate up and then back down. The tutorial then explains how you’ll be able to launch two apps in split-screen view by dragging an app icon to one side of the screen, touch and hold to hide the taskbar at any time (docking), and add your favorite apps/predicted apps to the taskbar. Once setup, the taskbar stays on the bottom of the screen but will automatically hide itself when an app enters full screen.

It all sounds a lot like an iPad, which I think is great. iPads completely dominate the tablet market, and the new dock/taskbar interface is great for multitasking productivity. Keep in mind this is going on a foldable phone, so Google is trying to cram iPad-style multitasking into your pocket.

Rahman even found a tiny picture of the feature in Google’s codebase:

It’s not clear when “Android 12.1” would be out, but a good guess is that Google pushes out the foldable Pixels and its foldable software in one big release. If that’s all happening at once, presumably after the Pixel 6 and Android 12 launches, there aren’t a whole lot of months left in the year. Perhaps we’ll pencil it in for December?

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PSA: You don’t have to upgrade to iOS 15

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Enlarge / It’s OK to hit the pause button on iOS 15, if you want.

Andrew Cunningham

Apple releases iOS and iPadOS 15 to the public today, following the announcement at WWDC earlier this year and the customary public beta period. The new software will run on every single iPhone and iPad that could run iOS or iPadOS 14, going all the way back to 2014’s iPad Air 2 and 2015’s iPhone 6S and 6S Plus.

Normally, this would mean the end of iOS 14. If Apple patched a major zero-day security vulnerability in iOS next week, in past years you’d have to move to iOS 15 to get the fix whether you wanted the rest of its features or not. But starting this year, that’s not the case. For the first time ever, if you want to put off the iOS 15 update for a few weeks or months, you can do that without missing out on important security updates. This is because Apple is planning to continue updates for iOS 14—not just for old devices, but for any phone or tablet that runs iOS 14 or iPadOS 14.

This update policy change brings iOS and iPadOS more closely in line with macOS. Apple provides feature updates for the newest macOS release and important security updates for the two previous macOS versions, for a total of three macOS releases at a time. Apple isn’t committing to that same policy with iOS (and the macOS policy isn’t actually spelled out anywhere, as Microsoft does for its software releases), but security updates for even one other version of iOS is an improvement.

Apple will continue to release security updates for iOS 14, at least for now.
Enlarge / Apple will continue to release security updates for iOS 14, at least for now.

Apple

There are plenty of reasons why you might not want to install an x.0 version of a new operating system the day it comes out. Apple’s major software updates are usually tied to the set-in-stone September launch window for new iPhones, and the initial versions can include major bugs that Apple couldn’t fix before it was time to ship the software. You might be concerned about the performance of new software on your old device (though it’s been years since a new version of iOS made older devices feel intolerably slow, which is one reason we aren’t testing iOS 15 on old devices like we usually do). Or, maybe you want to wait for the apps that you rely on to be updated for the new OS, just in case any of Apple’s changes break important functionality.

This policy change will also extend the life of devices that can’t be upgraded to the newest version of iOS or iPadOS. You may not have realized it, but for the last two years Apple has been quietly releasing security-only iOS 12 updates for 2013’s iPhone 5S, iPad Air, and iPad mini 2, as well as 2014’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. None of these devices made the cutoff for iOS 13, but people who didn’t need to or couldn’t afford to buy a new device could continue to use them without worrying about core functionality breaking or about putting their data at additional risk. It’s a responsible move from a company that already provides years more software support than the best Android phone makers.

We will see whether this affects the adoption rate of new iOS versions and how aggressively Apple tries to get people to upgrade from iOS 14 to iOS 15 as time goes on. On the Mac, the first update you’re offered on old versions of macOS is the upgrade to the next version, provided your Mac supports it—you have to click an “other updates” button to see the security updates available for Mojave or Catalina.

Eventually, if you can install iOS 15, you’ll probably want to. There are always a couple of features that are worth upgrading for, whether it’s FaceTime screen sharing, iPad home screen widgets, or even new emoji. And you won’t be able to run iOS 14 forever; Apple will stop updating it eventually, and third-party apps may also stop supporting it as their developers’ attention shifts to iOS 15 and newer releases. It’s just nice to have the option to wait for a while if you want to skip the bugs and teething issues that come with most brand-new operating systems.

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Apple releases iOS 15 with Focus mode and more

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Enlarge / iOS 15’s Focus feature.

Apple

As announced previously, Apple today released iOS 15 for the iPhone, iPadOS 15 for the iPad, watchOS 8 for the Apple Watch, and tvOS 15 for the Apple TV.

Apple has also announced a major annual update to the Mac operating system called macOS Monterey, but that is not one of today’s releases.

iOS 15’s major new feature addition is Focus, whereby a user can set profiles like “work,” “sleep,” or “home” that display different apps and notifications depending on what the user is doing. It also redesigns notifications and adds numerous new features to Messages and FaceTime, among other things.

iPadOS 15 includes those same features, and it also brings iOS 14’s application library view and anywhere-widgets to the tablet.

watchOS 8 and tvOS 15 are smaller updates by comparison. The bigger of the two—the one for the Apple Watch—puts some emphasis on photos, adding photos-related watch face options and new ways to share photos via the Watch. It also supports the aforementioned Focus mode and improves the Messages experience.

tvOS serves up improved HomePod mini integration, a slightly updated TV app, and spatial audio capabilities with supported headphones.

All of these updates are already available globally on supported devices. Apple usually times its major version number OS releases with new hardware launches, and this was no exception. Two new iPads and four new iPhones begin shipping next week. However, the new Apple Watch still has no firm release date.

Find Apple’s release notes for iOS 15 below.

FaceTime

  • Spatial audio makes people’s voices sound like they’re coming from the direction in which they’re positioned on the screen on Group FaceTime calls (iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR and later)
  • Voice Isolation blocks background noises so your voice is crystal clear (iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR and later)
  • Wide Spectrum brings all background noises into your call (iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR and later)
  • Portrait mode blurs your background and puts the focus on you (iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR and later)
  • Grid view displays up to six people at a time in Group FaceTime calls in the same-size tiles and highlights the current speaker
  • FaceTime links allow you to invite your friends into a FaceTime call, even friends on Android or Windows devices can join from their browser

Messages and Memoji

  • Shared with You shows content sent to you by friends in Messages conversations in a new section in Photos, Safari, Apple News, Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, or the Apple TV app
  • Pinned content elevates the shared content you choose and makes it more prominent in Shared with You, Messages search, and the Details view of the conversation
  • Multiple photos sent in Messages are displayed as a glanceable collage or a swipeable stack
  • Over 40 Memoji outfit choices and up to three different colors to customize your Memoji stickers’s clothing and headwear

Focus

  • Focus lets you automatically filter notifications based on what you’re currently doing, such as fitness, sleep, gaming, reading, driving, work, or personal time
  • Focus uses on-device intelligence during set up to suggest apps and people you want to allow notifications from in a Focus
  • Home Screen pages can be customized to match your apps and widgets to a specific Focus
  • Contextual suggestions intelligently suggest a Focus based on your context, using signals like location or time of day
  • Status appears to your contacts in Messages conversations, indicating your notifications are silenced with Focus

Notifications

  • A new look displays contact photos for people and larger icons for apps
  • Notification summary delivers a helpful collection of your notifications daily, based on a schedule you set
  • Notifications can be muted from any app or messaging thread for the next hour or for the day

Maps

  • Detailed city maps display elevation, trees, buildings, landmarks, crosswalks and turn lanes, and 3D views to navigate complex interchanges, and more in San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York, and London, with more cities coming in the future (iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR and later)
  • New driving features include a new map that highlights details like traffic and incidents, and a route planner that lets you view your upcoming journey by choosing a future departure or arrival time
  • Immersive walking directions show step-by-step directions in augmented reality (iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR and later)
  • Updated transit experience provides one-tap access to departures near you, makes it easy to see and interact with your route using one hand, and notifies you when approaching your stop
  • Interactive 3D globe shows enhanced details for mountain ranges, deserts, forests, oceans, and more (iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR and later)
  • Redesigned place cards make it easy to learn about and interact with places, and a new home for Guides editorially curates the best recommendations for places you’ll love

Safari

  • Bottom tab bar is easier to reach and helps you move between tabs by swiping left or right
  • Tab Groups help you save and organize your tabs and easily access them across devices
  • Tab overview grid view displays your open tabs
  • Start page can be customized with a background image and new sections like Privacy Report, Siri Suggestions, and Shared With You
  • Web extensions on iOS help you personalize your browsing and can be downloaded through the App Store
  • Voice search lets you search the web using your voice

Wallet

  • Home keys let you tap to unlock a supported home or apartment door lock (iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR and later)
  • Hotel keys allow you to tap to unlock your room at participating hotels
  • Office keys allow you to tap to unlock your office doors for participating corporate offices
  • Car keys with Ultra Wideband help you unlock, lock, and start your supported car without having to take your iPhone out of your bag or pocket (iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 models)
  • Remote keyless entry functions on your car keys allow you to lock, unlock, honk your horn, preheat your car, or open your trunk on your supported vehicle

Live Text

  • Live Text makes text interactive in your photos so you can copy and paste, look up, and translate in Photos, Screenshot, Quick Look, Safari, and live previews with Camera (iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR and later)
  • Data detectors for Live Text recognize phone numbers, emails, dates, street addresses, and more in photos so you can take action on them
  • Live Text is available from the keyboard letting you insert text directly from the camera viewfinder into any text field

Spotlight

  • Rich results brings together all the information you’re looking for on contacts, actors, musicians, movies, and TV shows
  • Photos can be searched from your photo library by locations, people, scenes, text in the photos or other things in the photos, like a dog or a car
  • Web image search allows you to search for images of people, animals, monuments, and more

Photos

  • New look for Memories with a new interactive interface, animated cards with smart, adaptive titles, new animation and transition styles, and multiple image collages
  • Apple Music can be added to your Memories for Apple Music subscribers, and personalized song suggestions combine expert recommendations with your music tastes and what’s in your photos and videos
  • Memory mixes let you set the mood by selecting from different songs and a Memory look to match
  • New memory types include additional international holidays, child-focused memories, trends over time, and improved pet memories
  • Info pane now displays rich information about the photo like which camera and lens, shutter speed, file size, and more
  • Visual Look Up recognizes art, landmarks around the world, plants and flowers, books, and dog and cat breeds in your photos so you can learn more about them

Health

  • Sharing lets you choose health data, alerts, and trends to share with people important to you or those who are caring for you, including your healthcare provider
  • Trends lets you see how a given health metric is progressing over time and can notify you when a new trend has been detected
  • Walking Steadiness is a new metric that can assess your risk of falling and notify you if your walking steadiness is low (iPhone 8 and later)
  • Verifiable health records enable you to download and store verifiable versions of COVID-19 vaccines and lab results
  • Lab results can now be pinned for quick access and include highlights that show how your labs have changed over time

Weather

  • A new design shows the most important weather information for that location and includes new maps modules
  • Weather maps can be viewed in full-screen and show precipitation, temperature and air quality in supported countries
  • Next-hour precipitation notifications alert you when rain or snow is about to start or stop in Ireland, U.K., and US
  • New animated backgrounds more accurately represent the sun position, clouds, and precipitation (iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR and later)

Siri

  • On-device processing means audio of your requests does not leave your device by default, and means Siri is able to process many requests while offline (iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR and later)
  • Share items with Siri lets you send on screen items like photos, web pages and Maps locations to any of your contacts
  • Onscreen context can be used by Siri to refer to contacts on screen to send them a message or place a call
  • On-device personalization allows Siri speech recognition and understanding to improve privately (iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR and later)

Privacy

  • Mail Privacy Protection protects your privacy by preventing email senders from learning about your Mail activity, your IP address or whether you’ve opened their email
  • Safari Intelligent Tracking Prevention now also prevents known trackers from profiling you using your IP address

iCloud+

  • iCloud+ is a cloud subscription service that gives you premium features and additional iCloud storage
  • iCloud Private Relay (beta) sends your requests through two separate internet relays and encrypts the internet traffic leaving your device so you can browse Safari in a more secure and private way
  • Hide My Email lets you create unique, random email addresses that forward to your personal inbox so you can send and receive email without having to share your real email address
  • HomeKit Secure Video supports connecting more security cameras without using your iCloud storage quota
  • Custom email domain personalizes your iCloud Mail address and allows you to invite family members to use the same domain

Accessibility

  • Image exploration with VoiceOver allows you to get even more details about people and objects, and learn about text and table data in photos
  • VoiceOver image descriptions in Markup let you add your own image descriptions that can be read by VoiceOver
  • Per-app settings allow you to customize display and text size settings only for the apps you want
  • Background sounds play balanced, bright, or dark noise, ocean, rain, and stream sounds continuously in the background to mask unwanted environmental or external noise
  • Sound actions for Switch Control enable you to control your iPhone with simple mouth sounds
  • Audiograms can be imported in Settings so you can customize Headphone Accommodations based on your hearing test results
  • New Voice Control languages include Mandarin Chinese (China mainland), Cantonese (Hong Kong), French (France), and German (Germany)
  • Memoji options including a cochlear implant, oxygen tubes, or a soft helmet

This release also includes other features and improvements:

  • Tags in Notes and Reminders help you quickly categorize your items to make them easy to find, and you can use custom Smart Folders and Smart Lists to automatically collect your notes and reminders based on rules you can define
  • Mentions in Notes enable you to notify others of important updates in shared notes, and an all-new Activity view displays all the recent changes in a note in a single list
  • Spatial audio with dynamic head tracking in Apple Music brings an even more immersive experience to Dolby Atmos music with AirPods Pro and AirPods Max
  • System-wide translation lets you select text throughout the system and translate it with a tap, even in photos
  • New widgets include Find My, Contacts, App Store, Sleep, Game Center, and Mail
  • Cross-app drag and drop function lets you pick up images, documents, and files from one app to another
  • Keyboard magnification loupe magnifies the text when moving the cursor
  • Apple ID Account Recovery Contacts lets you to choose one or more people you trust to help you reset your password and regain access to your account
  • Temporary iCloud storage grants you as much iCloud storage as you need to create a temporary backup of your data, free of charge, for up to three weeks when you buy a new device
  • Find My separation alerts notify you if you leave a supported device or item behind and Find My will give you directions to your item
  • Game highlights of up to the last 15 seconds of gameplay can be saved using game controllers like the Xbox Series X|S Wireless Controller or Sony PS5 DualSense™ Wireless Controller
  • App Store in-app events help you discover timely events within apps and games such as a game competition, a new movie premiere, or a livestreamed experience

This release includes even more features and improvements. For more information, please visit this website: https://www.apple.com/ios/ios-15/features/

For information on the security content of Apple software updates, please visit this website: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT201222

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